Firstly, I will say something very positive about dog owners. You have finally triumphed over evolution and trained your dogs’ sphincters to refrain from despoiling the pavements.

I know this from personal experience. One Christmas I spent many fruitless hours searching the streets of Sutton looking for a fresh dog turd. I’d embarked upon this quest because I wanted to stick a sprig of holly in one. I thought the resulting photo would make a pleasant homemade Christmas card to send to friends and family.

In wandering the streets I could only find one very sloppy specimen, which was visually unattractive and the holly kept falling over in it. I had no intention of waiting for a cold morning, so that it would freeze over and become more photogenic, hence I abandoned my mission and bought a plastic dog poo from a joke shop instead*.

So, fair play to you. You may have ruined my Christmas plans, but you are doing your bit to keep the streets clear of foul-smelling and slippery hound stools. Unless you are one of those dog-owners that decorates the tree in my local park with little plastic bags, or ‘brown baubles’ as we call them during the festive season.

However, a number of you are letting the side down when you take your dog for walkies. Especially if you are sharing the parks and pathways with runners. I understand that, for some of you, standing and watching your dog running around gives you your required 30 minutes of daily strenuous physical activity. It also allows you to catch up on Facebook and nicotine at the same time, but let me give you some guidelines so we can all enjoy our essential exercise.

Here’s what to do if a runner is heading in your direction on a path. You can usually see runners approaching, they are a moving object on your horizon. If they get bigger it means they are coming towards you:

If your dog is on a lead then move it gently to one side. Alternatively you can wait until the runner is almost upon you and give your dog an almighty yank accompanied by a very loud ‘tut’.

When blocking the path try and avoid using the Olde English common law of ‘We were here first’. Granted it served us well in building our Empire, but it has had its day on our own over-populated little island.

If conversing with a group of other dog-walkers, and I accept it is a social activity, please keep one eye out for any runners approaching. I do appreciate that this might make it a little harder to concentrate on the group’s heated debate of important current affairs, such as “Isn’t Kevin in Coronation Street looking old now.”

A new doggy accessory are these very long leads on a spool. These are great for the less energetic dog-walker as the dog can go off for a walk on its own. However please look up from Facebook every now and again to check how many runners you’ve caught with your tripwire.

If you have a dog that is likely to chase anything that moves then please put it on a lead as a runner approaches, lest the dog trips the runner over with its jolly high jinks.

“It only wanted to play” is of little comfort whilst waiting for the ambulance to take the runner to A&E for an x-ray.

While we’re on the subject of medical care you may want to google “capnocytophaga canimorsus”. It’s a particularly nasty bacteria that resides in your dog’s mouth which will again require the runner to spend the best part of a day as a guest of our overstretched NHS. It should be noted that capnocytophaga canimorsus is no respecter of dog size, so even “a little nip” is problematic. Unfortunately you can’t do anything about this bacteria, unless you have found a way to stop your dog from licking its own arse for most of the day.

So, in conclusion, a little bit of consideration goes a long way. Failing that I would advise runners who see persistent ignorers of good manners to heed the words of that enthusiastic jogger Theodore Roosevelt, who advised; “Run softly and carry a big stick.”

*A tip for all you photographers out there. Any plastic replica of a natural item (e.g. fruit, vegetables, burgers etc.) can be made to look as fresh as a daisy by drizzling olive oil over it, indeed it makes it look good enough to eat. My plastic dog’s egg ended up looking like it was freshly laid that morning. Result.

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