Dogs by the Sea
Monday, 30 November -0001

Dogs by the Sea

Dogs do like to be beside the seaside – and on the bed, says Sam Taylor

Written by Sam Taylor
It is said that the Queen was so devoted to Susan, her first corgi, that she insisted on taking her on honeymoon. If Prince Philip hadn’t already had an inkling that he was marrying a doggy fan, he would certainly have caught on quickly.

The British are devoted to their pets. Admittedly, we are not alone. The French outdo us on pet keeping and the Ancient Egyptians were so potty about their dogs that if one died, the owner would shave off their eyebrows, smear mud all over their hair and wail for days. We tend to try to contain things a little more, although the 8.5 million dogs in Britain are one of the main reasons the UK is our second choice for a holiday location. Spain is the first but that’s mainly because it attracts young, free and single people: they soon knuckle to windswept beaches and bags of chips once the puppies come along.

Hastings beach has the advantage of being shingle. The sweeping sands of neighbouring Camber are undeniably impressive, but nobody votes for sandy paws all over the soft furnishings. The beach at Hastings is also tidal, which is a huge help with those who refuse to act responsibly – although it is cleaned every day. Even so, there is a dog ban on Hastings beach between May and September (enforced by dog wardens) in a bid to attract one of the all-important blue flags for cleanliness.

The fact that the council has yet to tackle the issue of the foul water pipe that discharges close to the soon-to-be refurbished pier doesn’t seem to be that high on their agenda. Still, the fisherman’s beach is a law unto itself and you can walk there 12 months of the year – as long as you don’t mess with the nets.

People who end up holidaying in the UK (that’s one third of us) often blame it on their dogs. I’m in that queue. It makes life easier for the dog, we say. He loves the clean air. He’s too old for foreign food. Duffle, our Border terrier, loves a scamper along the cliffs – and why deny him that pleasure? What I do try and deny him is the pleasure of lounging all over the sofa and, more importantly, my bed. He has a basket. He knows this because I am always shouting: ‘Basket! Basket!’ But I’m beginning to wonder if the sea air is affecting his eyesight. Apparently, dogs can identify their owner on a beach a mile away if the owner is waving their arms. Really?

Next week: Condensation

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