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Always wise to take note of what mother taught us. We need to apply the wisdom throughout life

Today is a dog day for me: It began with an email from an aggrieved man asking when we are going to appoint a Dog Warden for our local park. His question was energised by his experiences of being embarrassed by large dogs which come to him when he is walking home from town carrying his shopping in bags – one on each arm – The dogs nuzzle in to explore his shopping – both hands committed he feels defenceless. The dog owner usually responds to his calls for help by smiling and shrugging: Dogs will be dogs. Not good enough.

Warming to his theme, he progresses to describe his frustration and distaste that some dog owners do not clear up after their dogs: ‘Piles of dog shit’

We share his unease. There are notices asking people to clean up after their dogs. Leads are not compulsory but dogs are expected to be ‘under control at all times’. What constitutes control when a dog is not on a lead is a question which is not easy to answer satisfactorily to all parties.

There has been an impressive increase in the number of dogs using our park since the start of the pandemic.

Like me, Leon walks his dog on the park at least three times every day. We worry about Susan who is alone since her father died 12 months ago and hardly seems to leave her house. Leon reflects that the people he knows in the cul-de-sac are those who have dogs – They are all out and about at some times during the day – and have at least the one common interest – which usually leads on to talk of other matters. Dogs are good with people and help people to be good with each other.

This was not something denied by Pope Francis in his recent address: Pope Francis says choosing pets over kids is selfish - BBC News

Indeed his words can be read as confirming that dogs and other pets make easy and powerful contributions to the well-being of their owners. ‘Owner’s seems to be not quite the right word, for there is mutuality in the relationship which is a step away from the concept of master and servant. 7 Spiritual Lessons from Your Pet (

Pets can be particularly helpful to people with disabilities – including people with dementia Alzheimer's Disease: The Magic of Pets | BrightFocus Foundation

People have taken exception to the Pope’s words, pointing out that many would like to have children but cannot for reasons of biology- or from considerations of cost: ‘Insensitive’: pet owners react to pope’s remarks on animals and children | Pope Francis | The Guardian

Intertwined with this discussion is the Pope’s concern for children who have no home of their own other than that provided by the care system. He encourages the idea that childless couples might adopt such children, rather than give their time and love to a dog or cat. This is a very complicated matter. I am sure the Pope and his advisors are aware of this. Perhaps his intervention can spark new thinking and more determination to find ways to overcome the fears and difficulties. Why are adoption numbers falling, when there are so many children in need? | Margaret Reynolds | The Guardian

And just to say – households with pets and children are twice blessed. But it is not right for us all

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