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NEWS DESK

Testing times for dogs and their owners

Peninsula Dog Obedience Club president Ken Thomas has concerns for dogs, and their owners, during the coronavirus restrictions. Picture: Yanni

and feeling depressed, maybe the dog is also feeling depressed. Some owners may fear going outside the home due to the risk of COVID-19 and the dog could be pining away from lack of exercise and other dogs to talk to. Club president Ken Thomas says his two border collies, Abby and Jaxx, are sometimes “difficult” and he does not expect training to resume before November. He is worried that the COVID-caused puppy craze will lead to serious behavioural issues for many owners. “My biggest concern is that without training days some owners will suffer anguish and despair,” Mr Thomas said. “Some dogs and their owners miss the discipline of training. Dogs will adopt bad habits, such as jumping up on owners, constantly barking, whining, scratching doors and anti-social behaviour.” He says being locked up and having restricted exercise will impact on dog behaviour. Mr Thomas worries that some club members who are elderly, isolated and live alone are likely to have increased mental issues during the COVID crisis. Members often turn to one another for advice when their dog is misbehaving, and that advice is missing when the club is in hibernation. Margaret Brain joined the club about 33 years ago. She is a committee member and the longest serving member. “For some owners, the long break from classes will mean handlers may have to go back to basics,” she said. “Dogs have to know you’re the boss and you won’t let your dog do whatever it wants.” When asked how younger members have changed over the years Ms Brain said: “The younger people seem more self-contained. They seem to care in a different way than we do.”

By David Forster TIMES are difficult for dog lovers who have been attending the Peninsula Dog Obedience Club at Quinns Park, Burdett Street, Tootgarook. The club, with 300 members, used to be a hive of activity, with members gathering on Wednesday and Sunday mornings for a chat, a cuppa and dog training. Over the years close relationships have built up within the club which is focused on caring for one another. Some dog clubs have a competitive feel and the status of your dog and their breed becomes top of mind. COVID-19 has affected the club dramatically, with live training sessions being cancelled since March. Fortunately, dogs are not required to wear masks while training. Online meetings are being held to assist members, particularly those with puppies and in the beginners’ class. Revenue is down and the club is run by volunteers and a team of skilled instructors. Normally the club has six classes from puppies through to section five for the smartest dogs and their handlers. Some club members are dedicated to training and learning skills such as trialing, tracking and disability support. It is enjoyable watching different dog breeds being trained. The club has a newsletter, and an active Facebook page for members. Members win ribbons when their dogs perform at event days when animal spirits also seem to rise. Many dogs seem happy during the COVID-19 restrictions as owners are either working at home, off work, or jobless and can regularly turn to the dog for cuddles, licks and wagging tails. Less time is wasted on the commute but, if you are out of work

Farm gates going ‘outside’ to source produce be sold at farm gates specifies primary produce grown on the property; produce grown on adjacent properties, and processed goods made substantially from these items. The rules say the sale of primary produce must remain the “core purpose” of the farm gate. The selling of “retail” products is prohibited. “Ancillary activities” allowed at farm gates include providing customers with samples of products being sold; showing customers where the produce is grown and “facilitating an interactive experience” – such as picking your own – and providing customers with basic amenities. Richard Hawkes, of Hawkes Farm, at Boneo, said his farm gate of 15 years was a “hub” for different local producers, but not necessarily those nearby. He said the outlet stocked produce from 34 producers, including apples

Stephen Taylor steve@mpnews.com.au MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire Council is on a collision course with farms selling “farm gate produce” not grown or produced there or on neighbouring properties. While the shire says it is “committed to supporting farm gate sales” and is “working constructively with operators to help them comply with state government planning legislation”, it says it is bound by green wedge legislation specifying what can and can’t be sold. The issue arose when some items for sale at farms – which could be presumed to be products actually grown there – were found to have come from elsewhere. State government green wedge legislation listing products permitted to

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from an orchard five kilometres away. “We try to have a range of produce from all around the peninsula because not every producer is going to be able to run a farm gate,” he said. The sixth-generation farmer said rules governing what can and cannot be sold at farm gates “were from the 1960s”. “We’ve had to adapt to what our customers want,” he said. “They’re coming to our farms to see what produce is grown here and to get the feeling of what farming is. It’s not like going to the supermarket.” Hawkes Farm also sells online and makes home deliveries. Peninsula Fresh Organics, in Baxter, set up its farm gate in 2012 and has sells its own grown organic produce as well as organic produce from other regional Victorian farms. The shire says it provides a “range

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of supports” to farm gate operators, including the development of the Mornington Peninsula Produce (MPP) food provenance brand and the Mornington Peninsula Produce website, with its interactive map of producers across the region. “The shire has a statutory duty to enforce the planning scheme to ensure farm gates retain their uniquely ‘homegrown’ character and do not become like supermarkets, which are not permitted in the rural zoning,” the mayor Cr Sam Hearn said. “We are aware that, like many local businesses, our farm gate operators are struggling to adapt to changing conditions under COVID-19. We are very conscious of this as we carry out our responsibilities to uphold green wedge planning laws.” Cr Hearn said a council review of peninsula farm gate operators revealed

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“overwhelming compliance, however, there are a small number who are not complying”. “We will work to ensure local operators will not face fines or court action as a result of this illegal activity, however council has a legal responsibility in this matter and must continue to seek compliance with the planning scheme.” He said the state government was “reviewing the planning controls needed to maintain the benefits provided by green wedge”. This included how it manages land uses – including farm gates. “The shire has been proactive in encouraging the state to use this opportunity to ensure that farm gate provisions provide the best support possible to our farmers selling Mornington Peninsula produce,” Cr Hearn said. Details: engage.vic.gov.au/gwal

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2 September 2020

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Profile for Mornington Peninsula News Group

Southern Peninsula News 1 September 2020  

Southern Peninsula News 1 September 2020

Southern Peninsula News 1 September 2020  

Southern Peninsula News 1 September 2020

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