Some young letter writers from T.M. Roberts School concerned about the amount of dog excrement befouling school property have found their message gaining some widespread exposure.
The issue was taken before Cranbrook City Council this week, and appeared in the pages of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman on Wednesday. The students were scheduled to be interviewed by CBC early Thursday morning as well.
It does make one wonder how jaded a dog owner has to be, who watches his or her canine evacuate on the school's green lawn, practically in front of the main front doors, and then walks blissfully on without picking it up.
Perhaps it involves an attitude of subversion - that laws brought down from a body like a municipal government are an infringement of rights - "You're telling me to pick up my dog's droppings? That's like Communism!"
Or, one could be saying to oneself, "What's the big deal? It's going to turn into soil soon enough."
Or yet again, maybe it's such a new, revolutionary concept - picking your dog excrement up off the public walkways - that it doesn't compute yet for some people. It wasn't that many years ago that people could smoke as they wished on buses or airplanes. Resistance to change was so strong that new rules had to be phased in gradually. Remember? No smoking on the first few rows of the bus! As if that made any difference at all! But now, smoking on a bus is inconceivable.
So perhaps picking up after your dog will soon become as automatic a response as stepping outside for that smoke (though we won't be able to do even that for much longer it seems - heh heh).
In any case, for whatever reason the dog excrement is left behind, we're sure the publicity the issue is getting will start the process of change. The dogwalkers in question, if they're paying any attention at all to the news, may think twice next time they're in front of T.M. Roberts.
So there you go - elementary school kids can make a difference.
Now, if the dogs are just being set outside to run free, that's another matter entirely. While it's still infuriating to see a dog, running free and happy, letting loose on your lawn, in some ways you understand that this is just the nature of the dog - that if you gotta go, you gotta go and you'll go right where you are. How unlike the fastidious cat, who will excuse itself and seek a little privacy for its ablutions (likely in your garden, heh heh). Dogs will be dogs, and dog owners will be dog owners.
There are ways that we - through our elected municipal masters - can effect this process of change. An offleash dog park is already in the works - set to be established at some point in the area near the gravel pits off Cobham Road. If anything, this park will be a place earmarked for dogs, so you know that if you go walking there, there's a chance you may step in it, and you'll be less outraged than if you get a shoeful outside your child's school, or when you're in position in the outfield, or when you're getting out of your car in front of the bank.
Other jurisdictions put up public stations offering plastic bags, and alerting dogwalkers to the serious fines involved with not picking up. Kinsmen Park would be an ideal greenspace for two or three of these pole-mounted courtesies.
In these days of war, economic upheaval and melting polar ice, a few wanton dog owners may seem like a small issue, comparatively. But as they say, common courtesy and protocol is one of the foundations of our social fabric. And striving in small increments towards a cleaner community will lead towards a cleaner and healthier society. Like no smoking on buses.