Next time, leave your dog at home

The last discussion item to arise at the Sept. 12 Terrace council meeting was the problem of the city having to clean up after dogs brought along by spectators attending the Riverboat Days parade and fireworks on the bridge. Councillor Brian Downie mentioned the situation after praising a well organized Riverboat Days celebration.

Though Downie did not elaborate, I gathered from his brief remarks that people take along their pooches to these events and some fail to clean up after them. This goes against all responsible dog-ownership. Dog owners are expected to pick up after their own animals.

Besides leaving an unpleasant task for city workers, it adds unfair and unnecessary expense to the city.

Dogs at fireworks are probably reluctant spectators at best. A dog’s hearing is ten times more sensitive than a human’s; fireworks can be physically painful to them. If really big fireworks explosions make us cover our ears, or jump with surprise, how would a dog feel when he  cannot comprehend the source of the disturbance or mitigate it?

My dogs, in response to any fireworks, exhibit signs of fear, anxiety and distress. At the first blast the pup dives into the darkest corner of his four-foot long kennel and cowers there until all has been quiet for some time. The older dog abandons his kennel seeking safety under the trees amid thimbleberry bushes and weeds.

I could see my dogs tangling leashes around my knees trying to escape the blasts, frightening small children, maybe causing little folk to fall down by shoving them aside in the dog’s haste to escape.

As for leaving a mess behind for city crews to pick up, why would any dog owner do that? Do they not carry a plastic bag with them, just in case? And if their dog left an impromptu gift, would they not pick it up immediately before someone stepped in it? Judging from the councillor’s concern, not all dog owners pick up after their pets.

Whenever I walk my dogs, I carry a plastic envelope, the type that encases my Chatelaine or Good Times magazines. These envelopes measure only 9 x 12 inches, are sturdy and leak-proof.

I began carrying one of these envelopes after my old dog was caught short on our way to the bush where I unleash them. He had no choice but to relieve himself in the mowed grass at the edge of the boulevard ... in full view of neighbours.

I stood there waitin like the Bronx matrons in their mink coats on early morning walks who look the other way pretending not to notice while their lapdogs crouch in the recessed doorway of a shoe store.

No way could I pretend the  pile wasn’t from my dog. On my return from our walk, I used a plastic bag I had found snagged in the shrubbery to tidy up the boulevard and remove the offending mess to my compost pile.

On the TV series, At the End of My Leash, Brad demonstrated how to train an indoor pup to “go” on command to accident-proof the dog before travelling in the car, visiting someone, or coming in for the night.

I don’t expect my dogs to obey any command to “go”; timing is up to them. I do, though, keep in mind when heading out for a walk that the older dog activates his own internal stop watch the moment he sees me take his leash down from its hook. He counts off so many seconds to reach the bush. If, for any reason, I delay – such as chatting with a neighbour we meet on our way out – I must be sure my pocket holds a plastic envelope. I just may have to use it.

Why would anyone drag a dog along to quake through 30 minutes of booms, sizzles, shooting sparks, and chemical smells? Could anyone possibly think dogs look forward to that? Leave them at home as far from the fireworks as possible.



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