Twice in the past couple of weeks, I’ve been in tears of terror after confrontations with dogs.
Nothin’ new about that, I hear you harrumph, knowing that the older I get, the more of a phobia I develop about the critters. It’s 70 years since the five-year-old me was attacked by two huge (seemed to little Mo) poodles on the bridge over the Culter Burn one Sunday afternoon on a walk with my dad.
I wasn’t bitten or physically hurt in any way, and the owner insisted her animals just wanted to play with me. (As I’ve since discovered, owners always say that.) But these big craiters up on two, lanky legs, barking and pawing at me fair left their psychological mark. A lifetime wary of all dogs. Alas, now, in my dotage, actually frozen with fear whenever one comes near. Nae fine.
Last week, on a wee road near my hoosie, a mannie was obviously teaching obedience to his one – big and black with a look that fair chilled me. He was letting it run off, then calling it back to him. As I very slowly and cautiously approached, the animal bounded towards me.
My adrenaline struck like needles through my body. Pathetically, I screeched: “Please help me – I’m terrified of dogs!” He got to it when it was within a few feet of me, grabbed it by the collar, then started whacking its back, roaring: “DON’T disobey me. Come back when I say!” Tell the truth, I wisnae sure if I was more scared of the dug or its aggressive owner. So much for training…
The week before, another middle-aged gadgie and a fierce-looking pet, also not on a lead and, yup, headin’, growlin’, straight for yours truly. In panic mode, I louped aff the pavement into the road to let them pass, but the owner sussed me oot. “Dinna be scared, lassie. He wouldna hurt a fly. He jist wants to say hello and lick yer hand.”
I didna ken whether to laugh or cry. As if I would cosy up to this huge, slobberin’ mooth and teeth and proffer my palm. Once again, I broke doon, scraikin’ : “Take it away from me, pleeese!” If I’m not already known roon ’n’ aboot for bein’ that feel wifie wie the pet-panic attacks, I should really wear a sign: “I’m Mo and I’m dogphobic.”
The recent series of tragedies involving American XL bully dogs has left me horrified and heartbroken. Poor children and adults mauled to death by these spine-chillingly, threatening-looking grislies.
Originally bred to kill, many of them top the scales at more than 10 stone. Even on a lead, how is an owner meant to control such a monster? Even muzzled, they have no place on our streets. Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf must follow Prime Minister Rushi Sunak’s lead and outlaw the breed as soon as possible.
Meantime, I see XL owners are planning a protest in Aberdeen at the end of this month. I understand their shock and distress at the prospect of possibly losing their pets, but all their protestations about them being harmless are not borne out by the facts. Some time, some place, these animals could be killers.
Aberdeen council needs to focus on the necessities
Not sure if I’ve ever agreed with Marie Boulton before, but I’m right behind her when she warned fellow Aiberdeen cooncillors to ca’ canny on pickin’ prezzies fae a Christmas clubby book. She highlighted the dangers of being so blinded by the delights of pushing ahead with various highfalutin projects – like the £48 million beach facelift – while other bread-and-butter issues in the city might suffer.
She was echoing the pithy comments of the chief officer, John Wilson, who warned that the running costs of the shiny new things could threaten basic but essential public services. Too true. Do we really want to see a repeat of the closure of libraries and a pool while other vanity projects forge ahead?
At present, the infrastructure for some of our primary and secondary schools needs urgent attention. Plans finalised, decisions taken. The whole future of schools in Bridge of Don and Northfield is in the melting pot – two vital areas of the city where the pupils deserve the best we can give them.
Do we need new superschools? If yes, let’s get designing and building them now. Does Hazlehead Academy need to be replaced? If so, get going with it, so pupils can reap the benefits ASAP.
Aberdeen has existed without super-duper new projects for long enough. Sure, lay them out on the designers’ desks. But never, ever go ahead with them if there is any risk to quality of life for residents, young and old, in our neighbourhood communities.
Laurie Mackay is September’s superstar
Allow me to doff my tourie or, better still, raise my vino plonko glass to say cheers to my Super-Person of September. Step forward Laurie Mackay of Save Aberdeen Libraries. My spies tell me she made a humdinger of a speech at Monday’s emergency (aye, that would be right) meeting in the Toon Hoose, amidst the ongoing scandal of the closures.
Her inspired words pointed fingers at the cooncil, having stripped facilities in libraries in order to stymie any reopening. Did anyone NOT think she’d hit the nail on the head?
Go for it Laurie, and all your fellow battling residents. I’ve a feelin’ in my watter you might just win.
Moreen Simpson is a former assistant editor of the Evening Express and The Press and Journal, and started her journalism career in 1970