A while ago we considered changing the name of Bruton Walkers to reflect the fact that many of us don’t live in Bruton. We didn’t change it in the end but one suggestion was ‘Bruton Dog Walkers’ as most of us bring dogs. This we felt might exclude those who don’t bring a dog. However there are usually enough dogs to go round for everyone to have a lead to hold if they want. Sometimes there are more dogs than people.
Man has had powerful relationship with dogs for a long time. Evidence of domestication of dogs in Siberia has been found dating back 33,000 years! Dog burials, alongside their humans date back 10,000 years in this country. Recent ideas suggest that whilst Man trained and used dogs, Woman domesticated, named and turned them into pets. In current times a dog might be the only company we have in our daily exercise and in our homes. Dog ownership requires us to go for walks. On many rainy Sundays we have considered cancelling but the response is ‘but the dog has to go for a walk anyway’. A walk with the dog is different to a walk without. You have the company of the dog, and through them and their more refined senses you become aware of a different world. They can smell and track small creatures and hear sounds we cannot. Although with a dog you are unlikely to see these small creatures as they will have run away. Even larger animals such as deer will only be spotted from the rear as they head into the woods.
I was given a copy of ‘Olive, Mabel and Me’ by Andrew Cotter for Christmas. A fun, simple and honest book describing the relationship between two Labradors and their human. The three of them kept us amused throughout lockdown with short videos, Olive and Mable, on You Tube. In the book Mr Cotter writes of his long mountain walks with the dogs and the extra planning it takes to have two canine companions.
Whilst his walks were more adventurous than our perambulations, we still have to make sure we have water on hot days and importantly, treats for good behaviour. The law states that dogs must be under control at all times and for some of the time this will mean, on a lead. Mr Cotter needed to prevent his dogs from falling through a cornice (snow shelf) but we need to keep ours safe from traffic and away from farm animals. A farmer has a right to shoot a dog found worrying livestock and most sheep will run away from a dog, even if it doesn’t chase them. The owner of a loose dog causing a road accident may be found liable for damages so it might be worth checking your insurance.