There is no shortage of those who believe the saying to be true as right now it has been estimated that there are around 400 million dogs in the world. This population explosion is alive and well in Dubrovnik which has seen a phenomenal growth in dog ownership in recent years.
Scientists believe that dogs were the first animal ever domesticated by man some twelve thousand years ago. Since then they have gone from a trusted hunting companion to being breed for mostly useless reasons and occasionally trained for incredibly important tasks.
Take for example the dog named after our region - the Dalmatian. Now most of us would assume that they were first bred here and that's how they got their name. However, many believe that they originated in Egypt where they were immortalized on the walls of pharaohs tombs. From these first recorded spotted dogs the breed spread into Europe and many believe this was courtesy of Gypsy or Romany people. Whilst there had been a lot of disagreement over their origin, in 1991 the international dog breeders association, the FCI recognised Croatia as the dog's origin and stated that “that the first descriptions of the Dalmatian were found in the diocese Djakovo, in the Croatia, namely in the church chronicles of the Bishop Petar Bakic from the year 1719 and the church chronicles of Andreas Keczkemethy from the year 1737”
Through the ages the Dalmatian has been known by many names; the English Coach dog, the Carriage dog, the Plum Pudding Dog, the Firehouse dog, and the Spotted Dick. But there were breed for a noble purpose which was to be a companion to carriage horses, to help protect them and calm them down. So successful were they at their jobs they were later used by firefighters to help clear the way for their water carriages and to stand with the horses during the fire and help keep them calm.
Now all you dog lovers out there are probably thinking this story is ok so far but wait, it’s about to turn ugly. Not of the poor innocent pooches making but caused by their ignorant owners. I love all animals and as wonderful and valuable as dogs are, they a still animals and like all of us they need to shed waste products. Henceforth known as “business”.
Doggy business is a very serious matter. With the average dog producing 128 kilos of business per year that means a mind boggling 56.5 tons of the stuff is left on pavements all around the world per year. The impact? Well it's a lot worse than you might have expected. According to the American Environmental Protection Agency, given that every gram of dog business has 23 million faecal bacteria, it is as toxic to the environment as chemical and oil spills and rates third on the list of contributors to water pollution.
They have come up with an amazing calculation that the natural ecosystem can only handle two dogs for every 2.5 square kilometres. So concerned are people getting in the good ole Us of A that there are companies (Mr dopoop.com) who will actually DNA the business so you can track down the offending owners who allow their pets to let it go all over the place.
The solution to the down side on the doggy equation is incredibly simple. Even the Dubrovnik local government authorities, who are not famous for making logical decisions got this one right. They have installed lovely new, hygienic stainless steel bins fully equipped with disposable bags. However, the problem hasn't gone away because many dog owners are too ignorant or lazy or both to make the effort to clean up after their furry little companions.
The only reliable research done on the number of people who don't pick up the business comes from the USA where some 40% of owners say they don't see the need to clean up after their dogs. Given this it's fair to say that the figure is about the same for Dubrovnik, although I have my suspicions that it is a lot higher. In my street alone less than ten percent of people pick up after their dogs. In fact, I have decided to rename it Constipation Avenue as I have a theory that somewhere on Facebook there must be the message that this little strip of pathway is the place to bring your dog if he is feeling bunged up. I even see people bringing their pooches by car just to walk along the magic three hundred metres!
So, next time you see an owner busily trying to ignore the stream of offensive material emanating from their pet I suggest you point out one of our wonderful new bins and invite them to do the right thing.
The Wizard of Oz