We are being overrun by dogs. Now state Planning Minister Anthony Roberts is about to make it a whole lot worse by opening four new off-leash parks – as if the entire state wasn't already off-leash.
Roberts owns two Labradors, so of course he would be in favour. I own none but am beset by dogs whenever I walk in Sydney's parks, whether designated off-leash or not.
I'm frightened of dogs. When they run up to me, I have no idea whether they are here to play or bite. Their owners say things like: "Rex won't hurt you." But if dog owners really could predict what their dogs will do, dog attacks would be non-existent.
If kids were allowed to do what dogs get to do every single day, all hell would break loose.
Take these three examples, where in every case parents would be filled with remorse:
1. Toddler runs amok in the park, runs up to you shouting excitedly and then smears mud all over your pants.
2. Toddler runs headlong on to your picnic blanket, flings themselves on said blanket and throws the world's noisiest tantrum, while rolling around frantically.
3. Said toddler does a No. 2 right next to your picnic blanket.
Yep, that's fur family frolics for you. Every single day. Fines for being off-leash seem no deterrent.
More off-leash dog parks won't make this better. It will just create more spaces where people like me can be certain our walks will be made miserable.
We've been brainwashed to put the needs of these creatures above the greater good because some owners aren't trained. Instead, after confining their darling dachsunds all day to square pockets of terracotta just wide enough for a Weber, owners think dragging Rex down to the park for a bit of Instagraming will exercise their boon companions.
Instead, while the owners are on their phones, the dogs pronk muddily after rain or dustily after sun and then leap on passing strangers who have no interest in them.
These poor animals snuffle and bark and lick and dribble because they need real interaction but their owners smile gormlessly as if to say: "Oh, isn't he sweet." Or they actually say something like: "He really likes you." Ah no. Smearing me with mud is not a sign of affection.
Here is the solution: owners need to be licensed and obedience-training knowledge needs to be a compulsory condition of the licence before they are allowed to walk their dogs in parks.
Paws for thought: we either need tougher licensing laws or more parks which are ex-Rex, for the sake of all of us.
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