The subject of dogs can be a very tricky subject in the many lines of work in the countryside. Integral to some ways of life and purely recreational to others, they are part of the family and quite rightly, treated as such. However, the effect on the environment can, in some cases, be dramatic. I, however, do not want to talk about that in this post but I would like to share an experience that I had recently.
Last week I was in the highlands of North wales, gallivanting around Snowdonia with my dog in tow. We were heading up into the Carneddau, a quieter section of the hills and solid sheep country. I had head phones in and was running along, panting on an uphill when I glimpsed a farmer coming along on his quad bike. He was every bit a welsh sheep farmer and addressed me in his native tongue which, unfortunately, I do not know a lot of, so stared back blankly.
I was half expecting him to confront me. I don’t know why as I wasn’t doing anything wrong but panic swept over me that I may somehow have strayed from course and was in the wrong area or had made some transgression somehow. What actually happened was that he thanked me for having my dog on the lead which led to a pleasant conversation about his sheep and farming in Wales.
Now, I had passed two signs that had asked me to put my dog on a lead. I was also in sheep country during lambing season so the thought of letting my dog loose did not occur to me. Unfortunately this is not the case some of the time and he regaled me with stories of sheep that he had lost due to dog attacks recently and how he had shot five dogs, much to his regret. I took this with a pinch of salt as the propensity to over exaggerate is (in my experience) often a little common in this line of work. However, what I took away from this experience was the fact that on my reserves I often ask people to put dogs on lead to protect ground nesting birds or livestock but what I don’t do is thank the majority of people that do keep their dogs under control.
So thanks, to all those responsible dog owners and their lovely pooches for enjoying our reserves with care and giving nature a chance. This also goes out to those who do not walk dogs but again, enjoy nature whilst treading lightly.