HECKLER

<em>Illustration: Simon Letch</em>

Illustration: Simon Letch

OK, YOU know who you are.

You, like me, walk your dogs in Centennial Park, probably every day. I am sure you are a good dog owner and I'm sure you love the park. You appreciate the beauty of the green space and know we are lucky to have this peaceful oasis in the busy eastern suburbs.

We are all aware of the rules of good behaviour in the park. We keep our dogs on a leash in proscribed areas; we don't let them bother people. We even keep them out of the way of the bike riders and the horses. We all know that we share the park with many users.

As you know, one of the basic rules in the park for dog owners is that we must collect our dog poo (DP) and not leave it spread across the landscape.

The park authority thoughtfully provides us with black disposable bags and lots of garbage bins to make it easy to comply with this rule.

So, as a good dog owner, you collect your bags and pick up the offending DP, and everyone can see that you are doing the right thing. Next, you only have to get rid of the loaded bag. You may have to walk a few metres to a bin to do this.

But you just can't maintain your good behaviour can you? When no one is looking, you drop the bag on the ground, under a bench, even in the crook of a tree, sometimes within 20 metres of a bin.

What gives? You were doing so well until now.

Some days I have collected eight bags of DP while walking my dogs. I must point out that I don't take them to add to a secret collection at home. I walk a few metres at the end of my walk and put them in a bin.

What causes these lapses of behaviour in otherwise right-minded dog owners? I have a theory. You are conscious of being seen to do the right thing, and you actually go to the trouble of collecting the stuff so that everyone can see you being a good citizen. Then you are just too lazy to continue with playing by the rules.

You are more concerned with looking like a responsible dog owner than actually doing the right thing. You wouldn't like to be seen as a bad dog owner.

You wouldn't want to give dog owners a bad name. Especially your name.

I'm sure you don't lose any sleep over your behaviour and leave the park after your walk knowing that some stupid do-gooder will come along and finish the job for you.

Well frankly I'm getting heartily sick of it.

Pauline Paton