Just walking without the dog

During one of my periodic bursts of activity, I walked in the countryside the other day. On my journey I met several people – all of them with dogs.

I became concerned about the obvious reluctance of people to walk without dogs. What could be putting them off? Perhaps it was the possibility of meeting dogs and not being able to deal with them. I have decided to reassure them.

Dogs in the countryside are not a problem. If they run up to you and jump at you, or place their mouths in the vicinity of tender parts of your anatomy, they are simply playing, or being friendly, in much the same way that lions or polar bears do. You can safely ignore them, or give them a poke with your walking pole, though this is probably illegal unless you are actually bleeding.

Dogs do leave marks of their passing, but the colour of this is not much different from certain types of mud. You should avoid smelling anything that looks like mud. You should not step in it either. If you take these simple precautions, what dogs leave behind is not a problem.

You may meet people carrying transparent plastic bags containing substances that are not entirely pleasing in an aesthetic way and contribute little to the experience of walking in the countryside. These people usually have dogs with them, but this may be a coincidence. Remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If you throw up, try to do so off the path.

I hope this is reassuring and encourages people to go walking without dogs. I would like to make it clear that no dogs were injured in the writing of this article.