Welcome to this week’s editorial, It doesn’t require much foresight to know that a cute Tibetan Mastiff puppy will grown into a very large dog. “Let’s get a puppy” was the cry. All the kids wanted was a puppy, fur, fun, four legs and a happy disposition. The parents however wanted image, something that would gain attention, prestige.. and without thinking too much more went for the breed they thought best reflected who they were. So rather than selecting a rescue dog that was small, easy to manage, affordable to feed and best suited the small family budget and still left room in the back seat of the car the family decided to purchase a Tibetan Mastiff pup. And even though it was expensive they were told they could afford it.
Others however warned them to be careful. They were reminded they had a fixed income that was already stretched and that they had extended themselves on loans already but they went ahead and ordered the dog. Too proud to take advice and not willing to hear anything other than their own bent they ignored the concerns. It soon became obvious that the dog was demanding and had to be constantly fed. They gave it food but it wanted more. It became too big for the dog door so they had to make modifications. These took money away from other family budgets. Soon the dog was being subsidised from the holiday savings, the kids excursion money and even the money in the jar in the pantry. The animal was insatiable. Rather than improve the image of the parents they soon found that people were laughing at them for their poor choice and for failing to heed advice. When the family asked for financial help everyone said “no, we can’t afford to pay a single dollar more towards you poor decision”. The dog itself was not to blame. It had come with great recommendation from the breeder and now the family were stuck with it. In the end the family went hat in hand to the money lenders and pleaded for more. The money lenders drafted a contract that would commit the children to paying off the debt over their life time as well. They called it an Intergenerational Loan. That sounded OK to the parents. But the children didn’t like it. They reminded the parents that all they wanted was a small dog, with four legs to play with that was easy care, affordable and performed just as you might expect of a dog. The story of the Tibetan Mastiff is much like the story of the new Aquatic Centre. Back in the distant past someone said “it would be nice to have a heated public pool”. The idea gained support and people envisioned a smallish pool, affordable, easily accessible, that would be a nice place for those who wanted to bob about. It was agreed to establish a group, raise some funds and build it. But then along came the movers and shakers and before you know it the little heated pool has become a splash pool, a lap pool, a toddlers pool, a therapy pool and a waterslide in a building that is 120m x 80m in size that also has a 500 seat theatre, a gym, a café, meeting rooms and a visitor information centre. Those who know about these things see a parallel between this $51m edifice and a Tibetan Mastiff and are beginning to sound the alarms. There have been attempts to remind “those who decide” that the original idea was for a heated pool to supplement the town pool, a 50m purpose built pool that performed the simple function of providing a sport and leisure venue. The heated pool people just wanted a heated pool. They didn’t want to see the 50m pool destroyed. But like all things the request for a simple pup has now grown to ordering the biggest dog you could imagine. But sadly the owners will not be the council, the owners will in fact be you and I, and if the beast needs feeding then it shall be fed and if we need to borrow, because we do not have the income to feed it, then that too will happen. If we know all this however why is it that we are being forced along a path to buy a bred we can not afford when all we ever wanted was a pup?…. Or in the case of Batemans Bay a heated pool for oldies to bob in. And as for the performance centre…. No one wants a tacked on, ill thought performance space that is not built for purpose, defies all expert financial advice and is simply the whim of a knee jerk decision with very little true community consultation that has such a poor business case as to be highly questionable from the outset. It appears that there aren’t too many people who actually want the Mastiff … and instead long for the affordable, fit for purpose pup. Until next Lei