The Un-Doggers and no I am not talking about the group of people that are known as 'Doggers' and frequent more or less the same places as the 'Un-Doggers' or even the 'Dog Walkers', I am talking about the 'Un-Doggers' the middle aged people often accompanied by small children that are extended family to whom they are treating to a nice walk in the country.
The weather hasn't warmed up, in fact today it is positively freezing, but the hedges are are trying to change colour from the grey bleak tones of mid winter to the fresh hues of green that signal the return of Spring. Daffodils are opening their yellow heads and turning them towards the sun's weak rays on days when the sky is blue and cloudless, Snowdrops are nodding quietly under the hedgerows listening to the birds chattering over the price of bedding they are foraging for to build nests for their impending young, the tractors are ploughing the fields ready for the farmers to plant their crops. Even the dog walkers are starting to remove some layers of winter walking clothing, heralding, indeed, the coming of warmer days.
The 'Un-Doggers' must not be confused with the fishermen, the hardened blokes that walk the banks of the river in waders, thick Aran jumpers and flat caps dragging behind them on trolleys enough equipment to catch a small fishing fleets quota of sea crab. Their rods over their shoulders as they work their way across the muddy fields in search of the break in the barbed wire fence that has been cut by someone before them making access to the river bank easier than negotiating the kissing gates in place. It should be noted that whilst cutting the barbed wire fences, or any fences, is unethical and most likely unlawful it is handy for the fishermen and also for the odd dog walker that is trying to remain upright on the river path that has been flooded several times over winter and is now a bog of quick sand and therefore so much easier to walk along the fields edge.
Neither should the 'Un-Doggers' be likened to young lovers, those couples whose ages vary from the older teenager or twenty-somethings wanting some time alone together away from parents or siblings to the older couples, newly mated, that are trying to rekindle their youth and hopefully not jar a hip or pull a muscle whilst negotiating the well worn paths through the woods.
The last group to not be associated with 'Un-Doggers' is the joggers, those people who feel that dressing up in bright vivid colours and charging through the countryside not stopping to admire the catkins bursting open or the ducks washing in the river their heads dipping below the water line sending ripples out across the water, the sun catching the droplets and creating tiny rainbows that glitter like jewels, to be a good activity for a weekend. No, joggers, runners and even the kayakers and rowers they too are not 'Un-Doggers'.
'Un-Doggers' are those people that dress in white jackets, light beige trousers, shoes rather than walking boots or wellies. (I know joggers wear trainers but they are usually covered in mud so therefore they are not 'Un-Doggers'). They have camera's around their necks and their young are dressed in bright fabrics, all clean and iron pressed their fluffy hats new for the season, occasionally you get a child with bright clean, brand new wellingtons but as a rule they are few and far between. They flap their arms in the air when they see a bee or wasp and pick the bluebells that cover the ancient woodland floor because they are pretty, only to dump them further up the path as they have tired of carrying them so far. Their children scream and shout and point at the nice 'doggy' as if it is a foaming at the mouth wolf from the hidden depths of the woods. The adults berate the local mud splattered, dressed for the time of year, dog walkers that their dogs should be on leads as their small people don't like dogs, all this whilst waving their cameras and handbags in the air. They never move to one side to allow you to pass or even restrain their squawking off spring from grabbing tails or ears. They encourage said off spring to bark at the 'doggies' to make friends - honestly this really has happened to me! - and even throw a stick because 'all doggies like sticks'. The 'Un-Doggers' have even been known to say that the country paths through the woods should be paved for easier access.
I do appreciate that not everyone likes dogs or even animals as pets, cows give them nightmares and sheep stink, which does beg the question of why they walk in areas that are frequented by dog owners and farm animals? If, I was to walk my dogs in town or through a children's play area of course I would have them on the lead, although why I would want to walk near a play area when I don't like other peoples kids (didn't like my own much when they were little!) but they are in the open fields, they are well behaved, friendly dogs that like to roll in the mud and have a good time. They will walk behind you waiting for you to step to the side to allow them to pass. There has been many an occasion when a group of us dog walkers meet up and we have as many as 8-10 happy dogs running around, chasing, barking, playing, rolling in mud... they are having a good time, should we see a party of 'Un-Doggers' we call our dogs and move to the side, wishing them a pleasant walk. So please, when you see a dog walker, restrain your off spring, don't let them bark in the faces of my dogs, don't throw sticks its dangerous and for goodness sake its a dog not a doggie!
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