This year I made two pretty big changes to my life, one was to start walking up mountains (generally being outdoors more) and the second was changing to a vegan lifestyle –both of these things managed to centre around deconstructing pre-established ideas I held and funnily enough many, many thoughts on poo.
So back to the mountains and a vegan lifestyle, the picture I took at the top of this post is really what inspired this article.
This sign is at the entrance to the Glencar Waterfall in Co Leitrim, and yes it is completely outdoors, surrounded by trees and pouring down from a mountainside, the only thing man-made is the pathway up to it, and the sign. Followed closely by the thought process that inspired the sign to be put up – again man-made (human made, I don’t just want to be point the finger specifically at men).
Well what does this have to do with any of the above? It all pretty much comes down to the fact that I am a dog owner. Strange term as I do see her, Missy my nine year old Springer Spaniel, as being part of my family, but legally I am her owner.
As part of our family, we decided because we were going to be walking and outdoors we would bring her with us as we visited various sites around Ireland, until we tried to do precisely that.
More often than not we encountered signs not allowing dogs at all, not even well behaved ones on a lead, with well-behaved owners that did pick up their poo. See we do eventually get back to the poo.
I do understand that not all dog owners are as contentious, but an awful lot of them are, and seeing as in a recent survey it is estimated that 49% of households in Ireland have at least one dog, there does seem to be a lot of family dog members around.
So why are they randomly not allowed in various places that are outdoors?
That’s right, I’m not trying to bring her inside anywhere, I’m not wondering why can’t my dog sit in a coffee shop with me, or why I can’t bring her into a supermarket, no, not at all. I don’t expect to be able to.
But, when I am out walking I would like to know I could bring her, on a lead, with me without, the random idea I will be fined for just having her stand on a piece of grass/land or she may be shot. Yes, we have also encountered those signs! They absolutely shocked me when I first saw them!
In fairness here, they are relating to lands (public and private with access) where there are sheep roaming and there have been stories of the sheep being victims to dog packs.
But, since she (Missy) is never out of my sight, let roam and is contentiously taken care off, because I know where she is all the time, I’m not quite sure why when I arrive to visit a place or look it up online, I am turned away or don’t go at all because of being faced with the No Dog Policy.
It’s not like the other wild animals, and farmed stock, are subjected to the same rules, and they most certainly don’t have someone walking around after them with a poo bag, (try walking up a mountain in Connemara and not stepping into some sheep poo) never mind having them on a lead.
Can you imagine a giant sign saying no sheep beyond this point, and what would we threaten them with? Eating them!!! (And so starts the vegan thoughts, which I will park right here, for another time and place).
Or if a family of wild rabbits turned up to Glencar Waterfall were greeted with a sign, No Rabbits! Fines apply!!!
The sigh could be replaced with a large structure around the area, making the outdoors/indoors, and then no animals could get in, therefore negating their need to be able to read signs. And, I wouldn’t have anything to complain about because it would all be indoors and I would have no expectations of being able to bring my dog in, say just like I wouldn’t in a supermarket.
And sure I don’t want to be in buildings anyway, I just want to be outside with my family, including my dog!!!