Dundalk is a grand wee town whatever anyone from Dublin might say. Other than a properly funded and fully-operational hospital it has all the amenities a modern Irish town could need. But I’ll be brutally honest and say there are two things about it which really rub me up the wrong way: scroungers scabbing smokes off strangers and the amount of dog shite everywhere.
It’s an uncomfortable feeling to be approached by some haggard looking youth, who invariably appears to be about 20 years older than he (and it’s usually a he) actually is, looking to beg a smoke off you. It’s bad enough that the damn cancer-sticks are so outrageously over-priced but then to be forced into a position where you fear getting stabbed for uttering the words “sorry mate, last one” really takes the feckin’ biscuit.
Back when I was a heavy smoker the thought would never have crossed my mind to ask a complete stranger for a spare smoke. A light perhaps but if my own pack was empty, it was time to grin and bear it for a while. Did these numpties decide to leave their dignity on the kitchen table before leaving the house that morning? Or are they missing that chromosome that sparks shame when scrounging off people they don’t know from Adam?
Begging out of dire necessity and the will to survive I can fully empathise with and understand but scabbing a fag in broad daylight, in the middle of the street rather than blootered outside a nightclub at 4am, is just irritating. Depending on the physical appearance or mental twitches of the scrounger, it was also be very frightening. Certainly not an image which paints Dundalk in a great light.
On the other hand, avoiding these bedraggled zombies is considerably easier than trying not to step in dog shite. Walking around the town, particularly on the Avenue Road, is like taking part in Total Wipeout minus the pleasure of a refreshing dip in the pool and a chat with Amanda Byram.
Seriously!! What are people feeding their “furbabies” with in Dundalk? Are ye all throwing a few dried prunes and some All-Bran in with the Pedigree Chum? It’s either that or your beloved pooches are nipping off down the Punjab Curry house for a vindaloo when you’ve gone to bed.
Now it took me many years to feel comfortable around dogs, up to the point where I was happy to dog-sit a vivacious, giddy and hairy lump of a Black Labrador for a good friend last Christmas. Going for the daily leaps around the local green was an enjoyable experience, scooping up warm, soggy shite in plastic sandwich bags aside. It brought home clearly why people love having a dog as part of the household.
However, people who own dogs and cannot bother their arses to pick up the mess after they’ve dropped a few number twos about the place, shouldn’t be allowed them in the first place. Yes, your furry little baby is one of the family, but you wouldn’t let your non-furry, little toddler take a crap in the middle of the street, would you?
One of the most depressingly familiar things I’ve regularly heard from our foreign friends who came to work in PayPal and National Pen etc was their observance at the sheer scale of the dog litter problem around Dundalk. It paints a very bad picture of the town and, in fairness, we’re being let down badly, not just by the inconsiderate owners but by a proper lack of fine/penalty enforcement by the local council.
Maybe, as well as issuing parking tickets, the wardens could also be on the lookout for careless owners and issue on the spot fines? Possibly not idea as I would imagine the majority of the illicit pooping is done when the hounds are being taken for walks in the evenings after work but it could be a start.
Anything that would be a positive step towards preventing the walk to the school or the shop from becoming a game of hopscotch is welcome in my book. And the perception of our little enclave in the Irish north-east undoubtedly would improve. If dog-owners truly loved Dundalk they would bend over and feel the squelch between their fingers.
If you have any strong feelings about this or any stories to tell about being accosted for a smoke in the street, feel free to comment here or on the Feck News Facebook page.