Independent and FREE - 2021 Best Online Publication

Jane Stephens: we love our dogs and clean beaches

Independent and FREE – 2021 Best Online Publication (Qld Country Press)

Jane Stephens: we love our dogs and clean beaches


Dr Jane Stephens: dog love is like nothing else but owners need to shape up

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There is no love quite like the fuzzy-faced devotion of a dog.

Whether one currently shares our day-to-day, or the echo of their four paws reverberates in our hearts, once you have shared your life with a pooch, you never quite see the world the same way again.

Dog love is different from the feline variety. There is something whole-hearted about a dog and their lust for life and family, and that lack of restraint makes it easier to be overt about loving them back.

Of course, dogs are also out and in the community where cats tend to slink and swan around inside, only interacting when they are alone with their people. There are exceptions, of course – one being a fat, black cat called Max, who lives on my street and is as friendly as a dog.

We love dogs, we need their companionship and presence, and they are a key member of so many Sunshine Coast families.

We are heading in the right direction: the number of pet-friendly cafes are growing and dogs are mostly allowed where people live (even if they rent).

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People are mostly stepping up in helping their canines learn to mind their manners in public. Of course, like toddlers, dogs sometimes forget themselves and go rogue, but those behaviour burps rarely have real consequence.

The dog beaches and off-leash spaces feature increasing numbers of all kinds of dog. Always, I am struck about how we could learn a great deal from them about getting along with others, regardless of shape, size, colour or background.

But we need to continue what we started in dog-friendliness and inclusivity on the Sunshine Coast. And let’s expect more of dog owners.

The revelation that a Sea Shepherd-organised clean-up of the dog beach at Mudjimba last month had elicited a staggering 25kg of dog excrement was gag-worthy.

What possibly made it more stunning was that the poo was bagged up, as if those who left the 180 bags had thought to do the right thing but only got the job half done.

They scooped the steaming pile from the sand, but then what happened? Lugging the bag too much trouble? Bin too far away?

They did their own version of dumping and running, a mass drive-by pooping with silencers, as it were.

It’s just not good enough and I would wager the dog owners knew it at the time and might feel a little abashed about it, particularly now that it has come to public attention.

That so many missed the mark means there is a hole in the system, though, and perhaps the council should review its bin locations and reinforce its behavioural expectations.

We do OK on the Sunshine Coast, except for a handful of militant anti-doggos out there.

But they are few in number and we who love dogs can just feel a bit sorry that they don’t understand a dog’s worth.

Love is always stronger than hate, and where dogs are in the mix, that affection comes wrapped in a goofy, happy package with a wiggly, fuzzy bow.

A dog is a gift that keeps on giving.

Jane Stephens is a USC journalism lecturer, media commentator and writer. The views expressed are her own.