Why do dog owners think they can take their pets with them everywhere? - Sarah Todd

Men sitting around looking miserable outside shop changing rooms is only to be expected; but buying a dress for this week’s Great Yorkshire Show turned into a right old canine catastrophe.

Since when did it become the norm for dogs to be allowed in shops? It’s marvellous to see guide dogs and other assistance animals at work, but normal everyday mutts now seem to be able to access all areas.

Trying to choose a show-worthy outfit proved difficult with smelly, wet dogs wafting past on leads long enough to lunge a racehorse. There was a chap sitting outside the changing room with not one, but three, dirty great dogs - perfectly positioned for tripping up unsuspecting shoppers.

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This correspondent’s “excuse me” hint for him to get a grip fell on deaf ears and maybe, with hindsight, they were straining at the leash because - yes, you’ve guessed it - there was a dog sprawled half-in-half-out of one of the fitting rooms. Its owner must have heard this shopper come in, but made no apology or the slightest effort to clear the walkway.

'Since when did it become the norm for dogs to be allowed in shops?''Since when did it become the norm for dogs to be allowed in shops?'
'Since when did it become the norm for dogs to be allowed in shops?'

Dogs are like other people’s children; they are alright in small doses but that doesn’t mean this misery guts wants to spend any time with them.

But back to the woman in the changing room, who was explaining in minute detail to her pet that “mummy wouldn’t be much longer”.

It’s the same in cafes and pubs the length and breadth of the country; badly behaved dogs spoiling the experience for everyone else.

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In a cafe, this awful person (me) told a Labrador to “get back” as it was about to trip over an elderly customer. There was an awkward moment when it seemed a genuine possibility that the owner would telephone the police.

Anyway, all the bother was made worthwhile when - as she made her way warily forward to the till - the lady-of-a-certain-age smiled her appreciation and when the coast was clear the girl behind the counter admitted it was a nightmare; that people can get very nasty if their pet’s behaviour is called into question.

Dogs are routinely diagnosed with separation anxiety and owners seem to feel they are infringing their pets’ rights if they dare nip out to the shops or for a meal without them. They should get a grip and stop being so soft.

Anyway, at least dogs aren’t allowed at the Great Yorkshire Show. Spectating, shopping, eating, busy crowds and long hot car journeys aren’t fun for dogs. Full stop.

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Talking of journeys, not content with flooding the lamb market, farmers from New Zealand have been selling their onions to British supermarkets.

A big bag full was spotted in Tesco for 95p; how can that add up into any profit, especially taking into account the cost of sending them halfway around the world?

This week has also seen some traditional artisan crisps (the kind where we’re expected to imagine a hessian apron wearing farmer personally peeling, frying up and bagging his spuds into the tasty treats) labelled in small print as containing non-British potatoes.

The whole area of food labelling needs getting a grip of. Another area of food marketing that doesn’t sit comfortably with this shopper is halal meat.

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It’s not something this diner wants to eat. No big deal or arguments. Even as a relatively tough farmer’s daughter the idea of animals not being stunned before being slaughtered just doesn’t sit easily. It’s an absolute scandal how many microwavable ready meals and menus for schools, prisons, care homes and so-on will contain halal meat. As consumers we should be given a choice; rather than unwittingly eating halal meat. Have it properly labelled so that those who want to buy it for religious reasons can; but it’s only right and proper that the rest of us are given a choice.

The Government needs to get a grip on food and its correct labelling. It’s also fundamentally wrong that the lower the food value the less information seems to be printed on the label. Provenance of food shouldn’t be a right reserved for the wealthy; the epicureans who frequent farmers’ markets and delicatessens. Ordinary, everyday families should be able to see at a moment’s glance where their food is from and how it was produced. It should be a basic human right.

Instead, time and again grey areas such as the use of wholesome words such as ‘farm’ and red, white and blue packaging wrongly give the impression that food is British produced. These cons should be exposed as such.