Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Dogs In Suffolk


This post is inspired by the start, today, of  The Suffolk Show. I wrote a slightly churlish Tweet this morning about its decision to ban dogs from the show and thought it better to give vent to my frustrations, once and for all, here, rather than carry on sniping.

I Tweeted before on the subject but that was in the hope of bolstering support for overturning the decision or at least making sure that the subject was prominent when decisions for next year’s show are made. Now it just seems churlish, and I wouldn’t wish to do anything than support the various organisations that are participating, even if  am still a little “frustrated” with the organisers.

What I love about Suffolk, as far as dogs are concerned, is the fact that if any county has achieved a very sensible and balanced attitude to dogs, it is Suffolk. In some places dogs are either spoilt and turned into an extension of their human owners,  or neglected. In Croatia we mostly saw them chained up.  When we walked the adorable, well trained and harmless Springer Spaniel, Rosie, especially off the lead, many Croatians would visibly flinch in anticipation of an attack. Wherever we went, dogs were never allowed into a house almost as if it was a heathen act. In western capital cities some dogs wear pom poms and many have lost their dignity in other respects. However in Suffolk, to me, it appears that dogs are dogs, in harmonious co-existence with humans, each bringing out the best of each other’s qualities.

That being the case, our county show has decided to ban dogs. I think the decision is short sighted but could have lived with it were it not for the justifications given. The most infuriating reason supplied was that it was not in the dogs’ interests to be at the show.  To me, this is Big Brother at its worst. The fact that the show organisers think they can decide for the 99% of sensible and caring dog owners is one thing; the fact that they think they will improve the lives of the 1% of dogs by dictating to their owners for two days is another. I suspect that the 1% is of the type that would leave their dogs alone for far too long while they have fun at the show.

I spent a very happy two days at the show manning a stand last year and loved the fact that it was a family day out, including canine members of the family. Most dog owners didn’t have to be told to make sure their dog had water, or shade, or rest and most of them wouldn’t dream of not picking up poop. Peer pressure invariably prevails on the rest.

There were other reasons of course but I listened to an organiser from the Norfolk Show and, I’m sorry to say, that they seem to have got it exactly right - no dogs in food areas but generally allowed and a creche is provided for up to two hours.

Suffolk is a county that has animals at its heart and a county show that forces dog owners to leave their animals at home for long hours is just not representative of the county. Fortunately there are plenty of other shows that have a happier attitude to dogs, leaving the important decisions to the owners. I do so hope that the Suffolk Show organisers try and find a more constructive alternative to an outright dog ban next year.

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