This event was organised by My Clubmoor, who are a neighborhood development group who are doing a variety of events in the area. It was the second year they had organised a dog show. I was talking to one of the organisers about the background to the event. He reminded me about a horrendous incident some years back when a local man was mauled to death by a neighbors dog, it was all over the local news at the time. The dog was a huge beast who went through the garden fence and attacked the neighbor in his own kitchen. My Clubmoor had a good few dog lovers in their team and they wanted to promote the dogs healthy contribution to society, they felt that a celebration of the sort we were part of was a useful way to teach this.
You would have to be living on another planet not to be aware of the issue of dangerous dogs within our society. The debates in the media and in parliament around the issue are always good copy because so many people in the country have these incredibly strong relationships with their dogs who number more than 8 million. A lot of the proposals for improvements eg re-introducing a dog license are unpicked on the basis that many people are unconvinced that such proposals would be sufficiently enforced, in other words the money available would not match the scale of the task. In the meantime the current status quo makes for some alarming outcomes. According to NHS figures on admission to hospital for dog bites, if you live in an economically deprived area you are 3 times more likely to be admitted than if you live in a more affluent area; Clubmoor matches this profile.
My dad grew up not far from Clubmoor and I was talking to him recently about growing up in the area, something he loves to do. He recalled that the site of the dog show, Clubmoor Recreational ground as an area he had many happy memories, playing sport and hanging out. There is a railway embankment running along side it that heads to the docks and during the war a train carrying ammunition was hit as it passed by the Rec ground. An almighty explosion was heard for miles around, and although their house was about a mile away it resulted in the cracking the plaster of their interior ceilings and this was replicated to most of the houses in the area! At eight years of age he slept through it tucked up in their Anderson Shelter in their back garden. When he reminisces about growing up in that area he paints a picture of a vibrant community and the use of the community venues for all kind of fun activities eg the local swimming baths used to have a wooden covering for the pool allowing for dry activities such as concerts and dances to take place.
We are currently hearing a lot about “creative partnerships” being the key to reducing the cost and improving the value of public services. The city is currently having a consultation about how to “move forward” with regard to green spaces. I have to wonder about the commitment to these principles and the integrity of those key players who are driving this process. Meanwhile as long as events like the Clubmoor dog show can happen were local people who know the needs of the area are able to have some say in organising events I have some hope for the future.