It's that time of year again that people are letting their dogs run loose and taking lovely long walks in the country for some fresh air and to enjoy the scenery. The problem starts when they let their dogs run loose and often unsupervised. I know how tempting it is to let them run free and watch the joy of a dog running through the fall finery but please consider this... Just because you think a field is empty doesn't mean it actually is. We farmers move livestock around all the time. And your dog running on the other side of the bushes could be worrying my sheep even if you can't hear it. Startled and running sheep do not always make a lot of noise. Your dog could cause my sheep to have abortions hours after you've gone home to your nice cozy house. And you'll never know. Even if your dog mauls an animal you might not realize. I know that your dog might be perfectly behaved at home but if the hunting instinct kicks in they will chase sheep, and sheep having no natural defenses, they just run. It just leads to a frenzy of adrenaline and the hunt is on, almost always ending badly for the sheep. If sheep are given this sort of fright or brush with death as they see it, they will often abort the lambs they are carrying. And nobody knows about this but the shepherd and possible the vet.
This is why it's an almost universally accepted law that if your dog, no matter how cute and fluffy, is caught on my land worrying my livestock (chasing them, being in their field, mauling them) I have every right to shoot your dog without compensation to you and in fact I could even go as far as to sue you. Most farmers won't sue, and are loathe to shoot a dog. So please do us all a HUGE favour and keep your dog controlled on a leash. And remember that public footpaths and bridleways are on average 6 feet wide so your dog is supposed to stay within that area. Nobody knows what their dog will do 100% of the time until the first incident occurs, it's just the way nature is, unpredictable.
The rules about shooting dogs apply in most countries in the world so this really is a universally applicable post. I think that out of just general respect for your fellow human beings that we could all try to be considerate and get along. We farmers welcome you to the country, and leashed dogs are fine but of course it's always a bad few who spoil it for everyone. I know that this will upset lots of animal lovers out there and I understand, I really do. But what about the rights of livestock? They're animals too. Farmers will always try to scare off or catch a dog and find its owners if they can. We love dogs too and most farmers consider them indispensable, working dogs and family pets alike. But ultimately it's your responsibility to be a responsible pet owner. If you're generally a good neighbour then there isn't too much to worry about. We've had at one time our sheep escape, cows escape and the pigs escape. It happens. But we just round them up and bring them back home, repairing any havoc they've wreaked while out. Similarly, if a dog or other farmers livestock wandered onto my place I'd try to return them home. This neighbourliness is what living in a rural community is all about. It's dogs chasing livestock that cause problems. In the UK the rules say this "The dog owner commits an offence if (a) their dog is in a field with livestock worrying them, Worrying means attacking livestock, or chasing livestock in such a way as may reasonably be expected to cause injury or suffering to the livestock or, in the case of females, abortion, or loss of or diminution in their produce; or (b) their dog is not under control in a field with sheep, even if he was not worrying them, but a police dog, a guide dog, trained sheep dog, a working gun dog or a pack of hounds are all excluded. (Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953).
Here's a good clip from Adams Farm on Countryfile from September 2013 about dogs.
That's all I have to say for now about dogs. Next up....dealing with raccoons.
On a personal note:
It's starting to rain a little so my chances for getting laundry dry today are looking less than promising. But other good things are happening. We still don't have much money raised for the trip but I know it will will work out in the end. We still have 4 weeks to go. And lots of things we can sell. Stephen will be back from the mainland tonight so tomorrow we will be back at work getting things ready.
We are getting closer to making plans for a BBQ fundraiser too. We're going to make all our own sausage and then invite all our friends over. Smokies and a bun by donation...sound good? We'll expect you all to come and tell all your friends. I'll post more details as we get closer to the date.