Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Because I have a dog, I have a community.

Pema and I have been welcomed with open-arms to our new, small beachside community on the Central Coast of NSW. Having moved numerous times in my 40+ years, I have never had so many welcoming chats and invitations within the first week of arriving somewhere - and I've never had a dog when I've moved before.

At the beach this morning, rugged up with hat and scarf, the sunrise was welcomed by the human walkers, but probably unnoticed by the 10-12 dogs who were blissed-out on their morning jaunt. Since Pema is the new girl in town, I keep her on a lead while she gets to know the residents. Once the butt to nose dance is completed, she is free to romp with the other mutts. Meanwhile, those dog owners tell me about the community, about how dog-friendly they are, about the lake and the lagoon (and the flooding), about the best cafe, the Saturday routine of walk than coffee, and they introduce me by name to other dog owners.

We are indeed a social bunch. Many Sydney folks tell me they know other folks by their dog's names, but often don't know the 'owners' name. Thank you to everyone who is working with Barking Mad to make our place as pet owners in the wider society more welcoming. A brisk beachside walk in 9 degrees with playfull pooches (combined with Warrigah Council's 'dogs and beaches don't mix mantra) is all I need each day to keep lobbying and mounting legal challenges for a fair-share of public space.