Dogged On Winter Hill
by James Patrick, Bolton
Christmas Day, 2000. The Morecambe & Wise Show (repeat), The Sound of Music, Quality Street Chocolates, too much food. . . or a walk on Winter Hill. No contest.
We parked the car near Rivington and walked along the shores of Angelzarke Reservoir in fine December weather. Then we climbed gently and steadily up to the summit of Winter Hill with its mass of Aerials and Telecommunications equipment.
As we approached the summit were were caught-up by two guys with Labradors. The black one didn't seem to like me at all and started barking aggressively and bearing its teeth.
I expected the owner to put the dog on its lead. Instead, he just said something about how the dog was friendly and that we shouldn't worry. I don't know much about dogs, but it didn't look very friendly to me.
We hung back and let them pass, but instead of striding off across the summit, they decide to spend time adjusting gaiters and messing about with their rucksacks. As we approached, the dog started barking and snarling again. Then the other dog, a light coloured Labrador, runs up to my partner and jumps right up at her. The owner just shouted at the dog - but offered no apology to my partner.
We got past and started across the summit trying to get away from them. Next thing we know, this bloody dog is barking and snarling again and being generally very aggressive.
This was rapidly becoming intolerable. I politely enquired (with a few choice expletives) whether this particularly brainless dog owner could put his dog on a lead. I pointed out how we had come up here on Christmas Day for a pleasant walk, and were now subject to blatantly aggressive behaviour by his out of control dog.
The man said he had apologised for the dog jumping up at my partner (he had not - he had just shouted at the dog. The dog hadn't apologised either!) and that he could not put his dog on a lead because I hadn't asked him nicely!
Now if he'd put the dog on a lead when it first showed signs of aggression - the whole nasty situation could have been completely avoided. Some people have no consideration for other people at all.
They eventually headed off the summit towards Ramsbottom, no doubt to cause more havoc and mayhem with other walkers, leaving us to continue back down to Rivington in peace.
Why do some people have to be so bloody selfish?
Dog owners are required to keep dogs under effective control at all times. For the avoidance on doubt, The Countryside Code on the Natural England website is quite explicit about what is defined by the phrase 'Keep dogs under effective control'.
Keep dogs under effective control
When you take your dog into the outdoors, always ensure it does not disturb wildlife, farm animals, horses or other people by keeping it under effective control. This means that you:
- keep your dog on a lead, or
- keep it in sight at all times, be aware of what it's doing and be confident it will return to you promptly on command
- ensure it does not stray off the path or area where you have a right of access
Special dog rules may apply in particular situations, so always look out for local signs - for example:
- Dogs may be banned from certain areas that people use, or there may be restrictions, byelaws or control orders limiting where they can go.
- The access rights that normally apply to open country and registered common land (known as 'Open Access' land) require dogs to be kept on a short lead between 1 March and 31 July, to help protect ground nesting birds, and all year round near farm animals.
- At the coast, there may also be some local restrictions to require dogs to be kept on a short lead during the bird breeding season, and to prevent disturbance to flocks of resting and feeding birds during other times of year.
It's always good practice (and a legal requirement on 'Open Access' land) to keep your dog on a lead around farm animals and horses, for your own safety and for the welfare of the animals. A farmer may shoot a dog which is attacking or chasing farm animals without being liable to compensate the dog's owner.
However, if cattle or horses chase you and your dog, it is safer to let your dog off the lead - don't risk getting hurt by trying to protect it. Your dog will be much safer if you let it run away from a farm animal in these circumstances and so will you.
Everyone knows how unpleasant dog mess is and it can cause infections, so always clean up after your dog and get rid of the mess responsibly - 'bag it and bin it'. Make sure your dog is wormed regularly to protect it, other animals and people.
Hope this helps . . .
“I go walking on the fells and have encountered dogs and owners. I am a dog lover although I don't have one at the moment. I was bitten by a black spaniel whilst on Bow Fell with my two young granddaughters. It was after a sandwich I had in my hand, but it also grabbed my hand as well as the sandwich and I couldn't release the sandwich because its teeth were digging into my fingers. Eventually I did let go of the sandwich and the dog gulped it down. The owners were a little way behind and when they caught up with their dogs ( the other being a lab, who was minding it's own business), the lady apologised and told her" little Milly" that she was a greedy dog. I didn't say much, I just wanted them to go, which they did. On packing my lunch away I noticed blood on one hand and when I looked to see where it was coming from, I had a wound on one finger which had been in the dogs mouth. First aid kit out, cleaned and dressed the wound, then proceeded to carry on the walk. The most worrying thing was, my youngest granddaughter was sat down and my hand was level with her face, if she had, had food at the same time, the dog could have gone for hers and possible made a mess of her face. If this had happened at the top of a fell, it's a long way back to the car!!!
Another encounter again with two black spaniels, was on Scafell Pike. These two dogs were not on leads and they were trained. When their owner spoke those dogs stopped dead in their tracks and didn't move until they received their next command.At one point they were all behind me coming down from the summit and as norm it was a little crowded. I was taking my time because I didn't want to slip. I turned around and apologised to the guy for holding him up, to which he replied, It was okay, he was taking his time, but he didn't want his dogs to bother me or get in my way. I replied that neither applied and congratulated him on having well behaved dogs. It was a pleasure to see him and his dogs enjoying themselves and also considering others around them. Every dog owner should realise not everyone likes dogs. I do and I enjoy seeing them walking freely, but there are times when this is not possible and as previous commnts have said, all dogs have teeth and they know how to use them. Your dog may be friendly but like humans, if they feel threatened they will react, also they do come from wolves and they all still have a little of the wild instinct in them. Please, dog owners, keep your dogs under control at all times, not for your sake, but for your dog's sake. Don't condemn them to a death sentence through your ignorance and stupidity.
This year (2013) the farmers in the lakes have reported an increase in lambs dying, not just because of the snow, but because dogs have "wanted to play". The lambs have become separated from their mothers and have perished because they couldn't find their way back. Also reports of teeth marks on the necks of lambs which could have led to their death. There is talks of banning dogs on the fells altogether. This is a shame because 99% of dog owners who do walk their dogs on the fells are responsible. The small minority will spoil it for the majority. I have been thinking of getting a dog to take with us walking but It would be on a lead at all times because firstly, it probably would chase livestock, until trained and secondly, the fells have big drops and cliff edges and a dog running blindly could easily run over the edge of any precipice. I just had to let off steam, and also to say, since my dog bite I have had three course of antibiotics because of various infections. the last one, an abscess needed two lots of strong antibiotics. The doc questioned me, trying to fathom why suddenly I was getting infections, when I mentioned my encounter with the dog, he insisted that I had a tetanus injection asap after my abscess had cleared. I'm still battling with it and it is now 12 months since I was bitten and still no tetanus injection. So please do think of others when out walking your pooch.”
Marie Mccall, Leyland
“I have three Labradors and have owned Labradors for as long as I can remember. All have been trained and socialised and have been friendly dogs. Then I got Dan. He was a lovely puppy and gets on brilliantly with my other dogs but hates and fears dogs he does not know. He has never bitten or attacked but barks and runs towards them before running away. My long winded point is this. When I take Dan out for a walk he is always on the lead if he can come in contact with other dogs and I always apologise if he has a bark at someone elses dog. The good news is, he is getting better around other dogs, with extensive training, and if he has his ball he doesn't even notice they are there. I try to be considerate of other people and their pets. I wish other dog owners would too. Don't hate us all; some dogs have issues and some owners are trying to do the right thing.”
“I agree aggresive dogs should always be on the lead but some people just don't like dogs and don't want them to be off the lead. Its usual these people that have awful children that annoy me !!”
Sharon Reilly, Preston
“I have a one yr old beagle bitch whom I have trained to be off the lead. She returns to me once she has seen another dog in the field. She is friendly and generally nonchalantly unaware of walkers without dogs. However, she does leave my sight and stays roughly 20m ahead. If a dog is aggressive it must be on a lead and mussled if it has had a history of aggression. I have a incredibly submissive but adventurous dog and I'm fed up by pathetic dog owners who worry other outdooring people'”
Sam Howson, Redhill
“I have had a recent experience of a loose snappy dog. On July 8 this year, I walked from Carnforth Station to Arnside Station, the walk including the Lancaster Canal and Fairy Steps. The walk was great, apart from an incident with a small black mongrel at the disused canal locks above Tewitfield. This dog suddenly appeared in front and started barking and jumping up. I kept saying "Down, dog, back to your owner" without any success, then another trick I have learnt - "Pah! Pah! Good dog" (which has actually worked with other dogs) but again to no avail. Finally the owner appeared with several other people and put him on a lead. I said "Can you please keep him on a lead, he's been barking and snapping". He said "I have done". The point is he could do that to a child and put him/her off dogs for a very long time!”
David Dawber, Lytham St Annes
“As I always say 'there's no such thing as a bad dog, just a bad owner'.”
Rob Howden, Leicester.
“I read the Dogged on Winter Hill article (above) and couldn't help thinking that I knew exactly how the hikers felt.
I own 3 dogs and like to consider myself a responsible dog owner. I pick up after my dogs, I don't allow them to run up to other dogs or people, and I make sure they aren't bothering wildlife.
I encounter unruly Labradors and their even more unruly owners more often than any other breed of dog. Why is it that Lab owners seem to think it's OK for their 80lb dog to run up to me or jump on me?
Just because he's friendly doesn't mean that I want his muddy paws all over me!
Also, how do these stupid owners know that my dogs are "friendly?"
The answer is they don't.
Once when walking around Ardingly Reservoir in West Sussex my female who was recovering from a ligament injury was strolling along sniffing at the water's edge when a large, un-neutered male Lab came bounding around the corner.
I immediately grabbed the collars of both my male and female dogs and made them sit. Then I positioned myself in between the Lab and my dogs.
The Lab owner upon seeing that did what most Lab owners do - NOTHING.
I called out that my male didn't like un-neutered males and could she please call her dog or there will be a fight.
She calls back "oh he's harmless."
Well that's not the point is it as I just told you my dog isn't harmless.
Anyway, the woman saunters over while my 2 are sitting being good and I am holding her dog by it's collar (at considerable risk to me I might add) so that it cannot (a) fight with my male, or (b) try to mount my female with a bad leg.
Anyway, the Lab owner comes and grabs her dog by the collar and takes him about 20 feet away then let's him go again. Now for any other breed this distance would be enough for the dog to have lost interest in us...not for Labs!
The Lab heads straight for my female and tackles her from behind trying to mount her. When my male dog saw that he ran over and started attacking the Lab.
So now I have a situation where my female has re-injured her newly healed crutiate ligament, my male dog has become involved in a fight, and I am risking my personal well being to split up a dog fight.
Now the Lab owner finally does the right thing - she puts her dog on a leash. Then, looking at my female who's wailing loudly, she says "is your dog ok?"
"OK? OK!? Does she look bleeping OK?" I shout.
The Lab owner starts to tell me that I didn't need to use such foul language. At this point I am as close as I'll ever get to wanting to strangle someone.
Through gritted teeth I ask her to get her bleeping dog out of my face and get the heck away from me. She stormed off as if I had done something wrong.
Needless to say the last 1.5miles back to the car was very long and very tiring as I had to carry my 65lb female all the way to the car. What a nightmare.
At that moment I was hating dog owners as well...even though I am one!
So, I guess what I'd like to say to all hikers out there is don't tarnish all dog owners with the same brush. There are over 6 million dogs in this country and many of them are owned by responsible individuals.
And to everyone who takes their dog hiking I beg that you respect other hikers, bicyclists, animals, etc.
Remember just because Rover is your best friend doesn't mean everyone loves him!”
Melissa Tuttle, Haywards Heath, West Sussex
“I have to disagree with you there mate. Fair enough I don't like keeping a dog on a lead either but if for any reason a dog starts to bother someone whether encouraged or not it should be 'reeled in' quickstyle as much for the dogs sake as for any other reasons. You don't want the dog to get used to haranguing people.
It doesn't sound from the story that the guy was hassling the dog, but maybe you are the dog owner in question and know otherwise?
I generally get on well with dogs but on a trip a few year ago (West Highland Way) while walking up the Devils Staircase a couple of guys were working repairing the path. One of them had a horse disguised as an Alsatian and as soon as I got within 20 feet it just looked up, saw us coming and started running and barking at us.
We both knew dogs and held our ground and it soon backed down but the owner barely batted an eyelid and returned to his work.
My point would be that as much as I love dogs and as much as I like to see them out in the countryside enjoying themselves, dogs and their owners who can't/won't control them threaten their own right to take dogs into the countryside. Some people don't like dogs and the owner of even a playful dog that jumps on or barks at someone who doesn't like dogs or is scared of them for whatever reasons could be at best re-enforcing this persons fear, at worst, subject to legal implications.
So all dog owners should be especially wary when taking the dog 4awalk in the countryside.”
George Forbes, Falkirk
“I read the comments made by that idiot on Winter Hill (Dogged on Winter Hill).
He was clearly provoking the dog - why else would it bark like that?
Besides Winter Hill is open land and I am perfectly entitled to let my dog off the lead if I choose.
If Mr Patrick doesn't want to 'share the countryside' with dogs perhaps he should choose to walk in his local park and leave the open countryside to us true countryside lovers!”
John Holter, Ramsbottom, Lancashire
NB. You may find the pdf booklet: You and your dog in the countryside produced by Natural England useful.
The views expressed by contributors are not necessarily those held by go4awalk.com.