IT SEEMS there’s plenty of support for moves to introduce a registration scheme for commercial dog walkers.

I’m glad about that.

When you’re out and about it’s easy to tell the responsible dog walkers from the ones who are only in it for the cash, and wouldn’t know one end of a dog from the other.

The latter type are bad news for any dog at any time, but especially very hairy ones when it’s time to feed them a biscuit. The decent operators are the ones who have only as many four-legged clients as they can handle, and who clearly know a thing or two about getting them to sit, stay and not get all the leads tangled up as if they were dancing around a maypole.

They also have their pockets stuffed with little plastic bags and often carry one of those sticks for chucking tennis balls great distances.

The other kind tend to be spotted on the pavement, being dragged along like a competitor in a dog sled race who’s (a) forgotten their sled and (b) not realised that you’re only supposed to use huskies.

Passing motorists know to slow down and cover their brake pedal like a Western gunfighter covering the six-shooter on their hip, because at any moment the dogs might make a break for it and head straight into traffic.

Should the worst happen, the prospects for the dogs wouldn’t be good, but the prospects for the driver would be even worse once the inevitable online footage reached halfwits all over the globe.

If I had my way, it wouldn’t just be commercial dog walkers who had to be licensed. I’d like to go back to the old system of every owner having to licence their dog, preferably in some sort of arrangement involving microchipping.

The only system preferable will have to wait the few decades it’s going to take before advanced computer technology allows us to communicate fully with our pets.

I’m not sure I’d want to communicate with cats in case what we suspected all along turned out to be true, and they really were plotting to kill us as soon as they worked out how operate tin openers and central heating.

Dogs are a different matter, though.

Once we learn how to communicate with dogs, we’ll be able to change the rules and oblige the dogs to prove the humans in their lives are suitable owners.

This might cause some dogs heartache in the short term, but it would ultimately be for the best.

“Dear Fido,” a letter from the licensing authority might read, “we have studied your request to licence a human.

“We regret to say that the human in question is not suitable. As you are no doubt aware, you belong to a breed which is known for its loyalty, its strength, its large size and its very powerful jaws.

“While this would not normally be a problem, we can’t help noticing from the photo you provided that he appears to be some sort of troglodyte whose knuckles are skinned from being dragged along the ground.

“We have reason to believe that if we granted the licence you would end up being encouraged to look dead hard and bite people.

“Accordingly, we enclose a list of nice, responsible potential owners with three-digit IQs and no deep-seated insecurities.”

Another letter might begin, “Dear Trixie, we must decline your application as your potential owner is unsuitable.

“We note that you belong to a small breed which has lately become popular with certain Z-list celebrities, and is now a must-have among the sort of people who give a monkey’s cuss about Z-list celebrities.

“This leads us to conclude that you would be pampered for only a short time before a new breed came into fashion.

“You would then be neglected and left to go yipyipyipyipyipyipyipyipyipyip all day every damned day and annoy the hell out of any sentient life form in the immediate vicinity.”

Family research can damage your health ONE of many things to like about the Central Library is its ongoing series of workshops about all manner of subjects.

The other day it ran a couple devoted to genealogy, led by an expert from the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre.

If you went along and were inspired to trace your family history, good luck.

Be careful, though, as genealogical research can cause painful injuries to loved ones. I know this for a fact.

A few years back I was doing some research into my own family tree when I happened to discover an online version of some census records of the mid-19th century.

Most branches of the family were in Yorkshire and other bits of the north at the time, which was more or less where I expected to find them.

They had a very rare surname, which made things a lot easier.

One direct ancestor, though, did not live in Yorkshire or anywhere near Yorkshire.

I won’t say precisely where they lived, but it’s a place which even to this day has a bit of a reputation as far as the gene pool goes.

Some say it’s not a gene pool at all, or even a gene puddle or a gene soup, but more akin to a stew - the sort you can stand your spoon up in.

My ancestor had the best part of a dozen children, all of whom were listed, with typical Victorian tact, as imbeciles, idiots or lunatics.

Later census records indicated that all had had children of their own, who obviously included an even more direct ancestor.

It was at this point in my researches that I heard a thump and a small cry of pain.

The love of my life, looking at the screen over my shoulder, had been silently laughing so hard that she fell and hurt herself.