Who will save our libaries from invasion of dogs? – Kevan Christie

Flora the beagle appears to display a keen interest in this particular book (Picture: Greg Macvean)
Flora the beagle appears to display a keen interest in this particular book (Picture: Greg Macvean)
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After several Edinburgh libraries start allowing dogs, Kevan Christie, who loves animals so much he visits his wife’s horse about once every two years, voices his horror at the whole idea.

Word has reached me of a startling new development that has rocked the pet world to its core and could eventually lead to a Planet of the Apes-style takeover if we’re not vigilant.

Flora the beagle appears to show no interest in a book (Picture: Greg Macvean)

Flora the beagle appears to show no interest in a book (Picture: Greg Macvean)

Despite there being barely enough room in some parts of our Capital city to swing a cat because of the amount of dogs on the streets, the cooncil in their wisdom have decided to allow the likes of Lassie and Scooby Doo into libraries.

I for one feel this is a poorly thought-out policy that breaches the red line between us and the canines – never call them pooches – as it’s against the law... or should be.

A three-month trial has already begun in the Central, Stockbridge and Oxgangs libraries which have introduced Dog Friendly Thursdays. As the Fun Boy Three once sang, The Lunatics (have taken over the Asylum).

It’s hoped the move, which I’m led to understand is the brainpuppy of a couple of cooncillors who no doubt own dogs and secretly want to, will ‘encourage’ people to come into libraries.

Fiona Myles, manager of the glorious Central Library on George IV Bridge, was quoted as saying that dogs “can be great conversation starters for people who are perhaps lonely when they enter the library”.

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Thankfully, I remain calm and full of the Zen as I draw this to your attention dear reader and have so far resisted the temptation to write... it’s a library, FOR PETE’S SAKE!

It’s a failing on my part that having studied this at great length I cannot see how the two things – ‘dugs and books’ – are remotely connected.

The whole point of the library is to seek peace and solitude in the world of literature and newspapers, far away from the trials of modern life like hipsters and their nippy wee dugs.

You’re not supposed to talk, although I understand change is afoot as libraries move towards something called a hub and there’s the rub.

Why’s no-one asking about my gout?

Obvious problems include barking, potential biting, dog mess on the floor and general chatter along the lines of “I’ve started him on these chews”.

Everytime you introduce a dog into a social situation they dominate the subsequent conversation to the extent that non-animal lovers, and yes they do exist, feel compelled to leave. This has happened to me on a few occasions when I’ve sat there bemused as to why no-one in the company has asked me about my gout yet.

There’s no way the dog owners are going to be comparing the merits of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens and no attempt will be made to teach the dogs to read so they too may enjoy the library in the way it was intended.

These cherished buildings were never meant for animals and we’ve gone hundreds of years with them operating on a ‘humans only’ basis.

I ask you – where does it end? Why not allow dogs into the swimming baths? I’m sure the babies can take one day a week off at the Commie baths to let the dugs use their pool – we could even allocate them a springboard in the diving section and they can get a wee ‘chitterybite’ in the cafe afterwards. How about letting them onto the pitch during half-time at the football? They could draw the raffle. It will work provided the owners’ carry those little plastic bags for picking up the poo – we could even let the dogs take part in a penalty competition with ‘treats’ for the winner.

Hot water bottles and chocolate

Museums, art galleries, the bingo – fling the doors open to all animals. Here’s Peter with his pet python. Bring a rabbit to work day if you’re feeling lonely. Marvellous, where’s Dr Dolittle when you need him?

Now, I fully understand that dogs bring a lot of comfort to people, including some of the most vulnerable people in society and that’s to be welcomed. Like hot water bottles and chocolate, they make us feel better – although you don’t have to take a hot water bottle for a walk.

But I’m not buying the idea of having them in libraries. Anxious Stockbridge types have already expressed concern that their kids will be unable to use the services due to allergies or fear of dogs.

I understand how young children can be terrified of dogs having spent my formative years across the road from the Bingham housing estate in Edinburgh, which had a fearsome reputation in the 1970s. There seemed to be more Alsatians, as they were known then, than people and this was before they underwent a makeover and we started calling them German Shepherds. Obviously it didn’t help when my dad left the newsagent with the rolls and Sunday papers but forgot to take the pram I was lying in with him. The policy in our house was No Dogs, No Bikes but we had to let our Irish granny Bridget in as she made the tea.

Although not an animal lover, my wife owns a horse which I make an effort to regularly visit at least once every two years – taking him a few extra strong mints. As for pubs, I’d advocate a one-dug rule with the baton being handed down from generation to generation.

I can’t see your hardcore dog owners buying this library shenanigans. You know, the ones who deep down hate people and prefer their golden retrievers and black labs – proper dugs, none of your French bulldog nonsense here.

They’re not going to be trawling round central Edinburgh looking for somewhere to park their 30-year-old Volvo Estates, so they can then take their dogs indoors. So there it is folks: a Unesco city of literature, home to the likes of Scott, Boswell, Spark, Rowling, Stevenson and Welsh is now allowing dugs into its libraries. There’s no-one at the cooncil capable of saying that’s a bad idea in case they appear to be against inclusivity which now stretches to the family pet.