By Heather Driscoll-Woodford
It's no good looking guilty, Elmbridge Council are on to you!
As a dog owner I'm always wary when local councils start planning new laws that might curb man's best friend's right to enjoy life to the full.
So when I read that Elmbridge Council are proposing new dog control orders, I wonder how it will affect folk like me.
They are keen to provide a "safer and cleaner environment", a sentiment which can only be applauded.
But I am hoping the better behaved dog owners among us (yes, I do mean owners) are not penalised in the process.
The orders list a range of actions that would become offences, including not clearing up your doggy's doings, not keeping him on a lead, and taking more than a specified number of dogs onto certain spaces.
Responsible dog owners will already be following a similar unwritten code
The orders are planned for 154 sites.
See the full list here
The proposal has been put forward for consultation with the residents and will replace current byelaws surrounding dogs.
Responsible dog owners in the community will no doubt, already be following a similar unwritten code.
However, will the people who these proposals are aimed at - the ones who leave little piles of poo behind, and let their dogs run riot, actually take any notice?
I'm guessing not. And if they don't, who will police it?
The issue of those walking multiple dogs is controversial too.
For it would seem to suggest that anyone walking more than a specified number, for whatever reason, is more likely to leave an endless trail of puppy ploppies behind, as they go.
But in my experience of meeting fellow dog owners where we walk, folk with more than a couple of hounds in tow tend to be professional (and therefore hopefully responsible) dog walkers.
Or they fall into the category of true "doggie" people, hopelessly in love with the species and again, likely to understand the need to clear up after their pack.
Is singling them out for attention, actually the answer to the poop problem?
Bagging it up
Try the pockets of any of my coats, and like thousands of other dog lovers, you will find handfuls of plastic bags and a few broken dog biscuits.
I'm not one of that rare breed who, having gone to all the trouble of bagging up poop, decides the best place for it, is dangling from a branch.
On a recent walk in Leith Hill, so many trees were adorned with unusual and slightly disturbing "home-made" decorations, it appeared Christmas had come early!
But believe me, for a simple task, picking up doggy droppings is an act that can be fraught with danger.
Take our walk to work this morning, for example, when my fur ball trotted off to do what a man's got to do.
I put my Eco-friendly hessian shopper down by my feet, and took out one of the many pedal bin liners I have on standby.
Gaily whistling, I rolled one up my arm to the elbow, ready for action.
With one final shake of his small behind, he was off chasing pigeons, without further thought to his morning "deposit".
Now, if you have ever been passed through a dog, you will know it is not an entirely pleasant experience.
And things which start off looking quite pleasing to the eye, at the beginning of that journey, can appear vastly different when finally arriving, at the other end. But needs must. I bent down and took the matter in hand.
Dog owners are being told to bag it up and bin it but will everyone take notice
As I was straightening up, a grey squirrel shot past me, only inches from my feet.
Closely followed by my hound, tongue flapping like a badly made flag, eyes out on stalks, as he charged across the dewy grass.
He cannoned into me (therefore disproving all I was saying earlier about dogs under control), before taking off again like a rocket, running round and round the tree where the little rodent had found shelter.
I steadied myself, then looked down, bemused to see a now empty, polythene encased hand.
"What the...? Where on earth did that go?" I spun round, searching the ground for signs. Nothing.
And then, slowly, the full horror of the situation began to dawn on me.
I looked down at my lovely jute bag. Wide open. Still where I had placed it, by my feet.
The bag, that up until now, had only contained my lunch and a good book.
How do you feel about the new dog order proposals?
Are you fed up of owners leaving a mess behind?
Are you one of the owners affected by the rule which bans you from walking several dogs at one of these sites?
Are similar orders already in place in your Surrey town?
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and tell us more.