Of Dogs and Smokers (JB)

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Júlíana Björnsdóttir's picture

In the greater Reykjavík area, two social groups are finding themselves at odds with the authorities: smokers and dog owners.

In Kópavogur, hostility towards smokers has led to a proposal to ban smoking in public places.

The ban would not be enforced by the police but by regular non-smokers who will be given the authority to ban a smoker at their leisure from lighting up in public outdoor spaces.

I am not a smoker and I am pleased smoking is now prohibited in bars, restaurants and other indoor areas. But I do reject the idea of banning people to smoke outdoors.

To smoke right outside the entrance to a building is an act of rudeness. I think it’s polite to keep some distance from the entrance. But it is not my place to ban people to smoke outside their place of work or while waiting for a bus.

I find it strange enough to ban people from smoking in their own car. The majority of smokers are respectful to non-smokers.

Smoking is not healthy and should not be encouraged. But that’s not reason enough to ban people from smoking. What will we ban next... junk food, sweets and even alcohol?

It’s not society’s place to tell a person how to live. Society is supposed to be a model for tolerance, a place where we can be and have the life we choose to live.

So, to the council of Kópavogur I say be tolerant and have faith in that your citizens are decent human beings.

The other group, the dog people, is my group. I am a dog person from the very core of my heart. If I see a picture of a dog that needs a new home or hear of neglected dog, my heart breaks. I feel for the owner who cannot be with the most loyal of companions and for the dog, because dogs too have feelings. Believe me, they do.

Tenants with dogs struggle to find a place to live because for some property owners, a dog is a huge NO.

The scariest thing about my dog Emma is not her temper, her occasional bark or the blast of enthusiasm when we return home from work. No, it’s her love for buttered toast. She goes crazy for toast.

But due to her being the size of an adult Labrador Retriever and her innate curiosity to sniff out the hidden magic this world has to offer, I see people cross the street and pull their kids closer when we are near.

I am watched intensely when Emma goes for number two in public. I always let them down and dutifully pick up her waste and make sure not a scratch of it is left on the pavement.

As I have mentioned in previous columns, dog owners in my community are trying to get the unused space behind the local swimming pool in Vesturbær set up as a dog park.

All we need to make it happen is a fence and a bin, a fence we’ll happily put in place ourselves. But the city says NO, even though two out of three committees say yes.

Yesterday, a number of my friends, that is, other dog owners in Vesturbær, cleaned the park. They picked up human garbage such as paper waste, food containers and yes, even a piece of clothing, in addition to the dog waste they dutifully searched out and picked up.

They filled two large black bags.

These are the people who supposedly make a mess in the community, the people who leave dog waste on the streets and let their dogs run loose.

In my group, there are 76 locals in Vesturbær who live with their dogs, partners and families. We love this community and we want to keep it clean. We respect our dogs so much that we clean up after them and want them to have a place to play freely with their lifetime friends.

After all, the toilet bowl is just too wide for their slim backside.

So, let me urge the political parties now running for office in Reykjavík and Kópavogur to give smokers enough credit to dispose of their cigarette stubs and trust us dog owners to be responsible.

Just because one smoker stands right by the entrance to the Kópavogur library or one dog owner leaves dog waste on the streets, does not mean we are all that inconsiderate and rude.

Júlíana Björnsdóttir – julianabjornsdottir@gmail.com

Views expressed here are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Iceland Review.