At least two Olympic athletes from the U.S. are reportedly planning to bring home stray dogs from the streets of Sochi — and that has prompted another chorus of grumbling from the “they-care-more-about-dogs-than-people” crowd.
You know the type — they assume that if you show compassion for dogs, you must have none for people, and they think that is some kind of disorder, and that they must inform the world about it
The truth is, people with compassion for dogs usually have more empathy for people too, and often dogs are the ones that taught them that.
Yet, to read recent pieces like this one in The Guardian, and this one in Slate – or at least their headlines — the writers make is sound like it’s an either/or proposition: One who rescues dogs must not give a whit about humans.
You might look at Gus Kenworthy, the skier who’s bringing home four stray pups and their mother from Sochi, or Lindsey Jacobellis, the snowboarder who’s bringing a street mutt back to the U.S., and see people doing something heroic, good and noble.
But some people — and they’re not all journalists, more often they are nameless Internet commenters — have an innate need to find, or manufacture, a downside, and broadcast it, portraying an act of kindness toward a dog as proof that the world’s priorities have gone topsy-turvy.
It’s true that there are plenty of those in need of attention. It’s true there are people who find dogs easier to love, and easier to help, than humans. It’s true, too, there are millions of homeless dogs right here in America.
But where does one person get the right to question and critique another person’s charitable acts — to whom they should give, exactly what they should save or rescue, and where they should do it?
I may lack the appropriate Olympic fervor, but I am far more impressed by an athlete bringing home a stray dog than I am by how fast he or she can slide down a snowy hill; and I think the dogs will bring them, in the long run, far more joy (though fewer commercial endorsements) than a medal.
The athletes aren’t there to rescue dogs, and they aren’t there to solve human rights problems. Any action they might take regarding one or the other is bonus to be appreciated, as opposed to grounds for criticism.
Yet, a headline in Slate asks the question, ”Why are Olympians putting puppies before people in Sochi?”
(Maybe because the athletes aren’t finding people starving and sleeping in alleys, and couldn’t bring them home even if they wanted. Maybe because it’s easier to toss a dog a sandwich than it is to end government oppression. Maybe it’s because they know the city of Sochi has a contract out on strays, and a company is exterminating them.)
Josh Levin, Slate’s executive editor, wrote that, while he finds puppy-saving commendable, there are far bigger issues in Russia in need of addressing, such as:
“…the country’s 2013 passage of anti-gay propaganda laws, as well as a number of other disturbing transgressions: the fact that more than 50 journalists have been murdered in Russia in the last 22 years; that Sochi’s venues were built by more than 70,000 migrant laborers who toiled ceaselessly in violation of Russian law …”
I’m not sure your average bobsledder is equipped to single-handedly rectify issues like that — at least not during the couple of weeks he’s visiting.
A stray, hungry dog, on the other hand, is something a single person can do something about — whether it’s tossing him something to eat, or slaloming through enough red tape to bring him back to their home country.
So we say “Go Team!”
And good luck with those athletic events as well.
(Photo’s: Jacobellis with the dog she befriended in Sochi; Kenworthy with the four pups he plans to bring home /Twitter)
Posted by John Woestendiek February 19th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 2014 olympics, animals, athletes, bringing home dogs, caring more about dogs than people, criticism, dogs, Gus Kenworthy, home, human rights, humans, Lindsey Jacobellis, olympians, olympic team, olympics, people, pets, rescue, rescuing, russia, slate, Sochi, stray dogs, strays, the guardian
Here is how I greeted my little brother when — after decades of living on opposite sides of the country — he moved to the same North Carolina town I live in:
With a quick one-armed hug, a pat on the back, a bagful of barbecue and some words to the effect of, “Howya doin’?”
Here is how I greeted his dog, a yellow Lab named Roscoe:
With a welcome sign, balloons, flowers, treats, oodles of hugs, playing tug of war, copious amounts of head-petting, belly rubs, laying on the floor and spooning, some of the aforementioned barbecue, and words to the effect of “Roscoe! Roscoe! Hi buddy! You’re a good boy! What a good boy! Yes, you’re a good boy! You’re just a good, good boy! Yes, you are! Yes, you are!”
Sometimes I think dogs were created so that men might be able to show emotions.
I am happy as heck that, after 40 years living in different states, my brother and I are occupying the same one. I freely admit that. But do I show him that? Of course not. I reserve my shows of affection for his dog. Maybe that’s what most men do. At least it’s what this one does.
In greeting a friend I haven’t seen for years, in visiting my father, or mother, or sister, I tend to act, on the surface, as if I just saw them yesterday. I don’t get teary, or engage in long embraces, or scream or jump up and down. I don’t effervesce, for my personality is a decidedly non-carbonated one.
I don’t get as visibly excited about people as I do dogs, but I think the reasons for that go beyond the fact that I’m of the non-bubbly male persuasion.
It’s only natural to have some inhibitions with humans. For one thing, you can’t automatically, 100 percent, trust them. For another, we tend to worry what another human might think of what we do or say. But mostly, they don’t reciprocate quite like dogs do. No other animal does.
If a long lost friend were to madly wag his tail upon seeing me again, it might be different. That might lead me to rub his belly, making him show even more delight, leading me to wrestle on the floor with him, or play some tug of war with a pillow. But being human, we’re content with a hug or handshake, and then using our words, which we — especially us men — generally keep a leash on as well.
When a dog makes me feel all warm and mushy inside, not only can I let it out; it’s hard not to. Scientists would probably say it’s because loving on a dog triggers the release of some chemical holed up in some body part.
But I think it’s mostly just human nature. We all want somebody to lay some love on. Dogs are the easiest creatures on which to lay it, and the most likely to clearly and immediately show they appreciate it. Dogs aren’t going to reject you, or judge you – no matter what stupid thing you say, or what sort of baby talk you’re babbling.
Somehow, with dogs, that dividing line between the love you feel, and the love you feel comfortable exhibiting, doesn’t exist.
But back to Roscoe, and, oh yeah, my brother.
His partner, James, moved here for a new job about a year ago, and he’d been sorely missing Roscoe, who he considers his dog. This week they all drove from Arizona. Roscoe, despite some concerns about how he’d do on the road, behaved wonderfully and seemed to like the cross-country trip.
They arrived in Winston-Salem earlier this week and Roscoe seems to be adjusting nicely, though he did run through a sliding screen door, not realizing it was there. (Did I mention he was a yellow Lab?)
I visited as they continued unpacking Tuesday, and on the ride home started thinking about the disparity between the love I showed Roscoe and the love I showed my brother (even though, I’d argue, bringing barbecue shows pretty much love). I didn’t exhibit, or verbally express, how happy I am he’s here.
I only showed Roscoe.
I’m that way with all dogs — even those I’ve just met. If I were to behave when meeting a human as I do upon meeting a dog, I would probably be arrested. But I can’t help but wonder whether I should come a little closer to that, and let my feelings out more when around humans, especially those I hold dear.
Maybe that’s another among the infinite number of purposes dog serve: to be surrogate recipients of the excess, bottled up, or otherwise unexpressable love that we — or at least some among us — hold back.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 11th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, behavior, brother, dog, dogs, emotions, expressing, family, feelings, home, labradors, love, men, moving, pets, roscoe, surrogates, yellow lab
Dogs. (Then again, they see the bright side in pretty much everything.)
With their owners spending more time at home, the pets of furloughed federal workers are likely getting more attention, more dog park time, more time to snuggle while watching daytime TV on the couch.
Let’s just hope no one gets too used to it.
The shutdown, while already hurting some pet-related business, is helping some others. The Huffington Post reports that business is booming, for example, at Muddy Mutt, a self-serve dog wash next to Shirlington Dog Park in Northern Virginia.
“I’m getting more business because people aren’t working,” said Andrew Low, owner of the Muddy Mutt, where dog owners commonly bring their dogs in after romping in the river. Low said the business is usually quiet during the week. But since the furlough? “Twenty-five on Monday, 14 on Tuesday, 23 yesterday… We don’t even ever come close to that.”
The furlough might be bad news, though, for professional dog walkers in the DC area.
Christina Bell, owner of Doggy Daze DC, said that business is down by about half since the shutdown went into effect. JJ Scheele says her business, Dog Walking DC, has also taken a hit.
“All the walkers are down anywhere from one to three dogs,” Scheele said.
At Just Walk DC, a dog-walking cooperative, Meg Levine said the decrease of customers, three days into the shutdown, has been slight. But between government-employed pet owners having more time, and less income, a protracted shutdown could hurt dogwalkers badly — not to mention the rest of the country.
“There certainly is a sense of frustration from a lot of my clients, who feel that this is just needless roadblocking,”Levine said. “For the most part, we are continuing to chug along and feeling very hopeful this will end soon. I like D.C. when it functions. Oh, this town.”
(Photo: Dog walker Meg Levine, courtesy of Just Walk DC)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 4th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, business, dc, dog walking, dogs, dogwalkers, dogwalking, economy, effects, employees, federal, federal government, furlough, furloughed, government, government shutdown, home, pets, politicians, ripple, shutdown, washington
Stubbs, the cat who serves as honorary mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska, is back home and recovering from injuries inflicted by a town dog.
Stec said Stubbs will be cared for at a house connected to the back of the store for a few days before returning to his regular sleeping spot — in his bed on top of a freezer. There, Stubbs sleeps in a mushing sled piled with furs of fox, caribou, beaver and lynx.
Stubbs was mauled by a loose dog in Talkeetna, 115 miles north of Anchorage, on Aug. 31. The attack left Stubbs with a punctured lung, a fractured sternum, bruised hips and a deep gash on his side.
Stec said she knows the dog that attacked Stubbs, and that she reported the attack to animal control officials.
The community of 900 elected the orange and beige cat mayor in a write-in campaign 15 years ago. There is no human mayor in the town.
Stubbs greets customers at the store, but also ventures over to the tavern next door, where he often is served a water and catnip concoction in a wine glass. The dog attack was not his first scare. He has been shot with a BB gun, fallen into a fryer vat and once rode on a garbage truck before jumping off, the AP reported.
The cat’s popularity has increased since his hospitalization. Two walls of the general store are covered with cards and letters to him, donations toward his medical care have come in from around the country, and get-well messages have been posted on his Facebook page, which has almost 22,000 “likes.”
On Facebook, Stubbs reports : ”While at this point in time it is impossible to know whether my attack was politically motivated, I do hope that the government will seriously consider providing me with some Secret Service protection in the future to assist in preserving my remaining 8 lives. I am thankful for the opportunity to continue leading the great town of Talkeetna onwards to brighter tomorrows.”
(Photo: Stubbs’ Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 12th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alaska, animal hospital, bitten, cat, cat mayor, dog, home, honorary, injured, lauriestec, mauled, mayor, nagley's general store, recovering, released, stubbs, stubbs the cat, talkeetna
There might not be any town as intent — you might even say obsessed — with wiping out dog poop as Brunete, Spain.
First, officials in the town on the outskirts of Madrid launched a social awareness campaign, aimed at encouraging pet owners to pick up after their dogs.
Part of it included a remote control pile of poop on wheels, which approached citizens bearing the message “Don’t leave me, pick me up!”
“The amount of dog poo on our streets dropped considerably as a result,” a town spokesman is quoted as saying in this article.
When “volume” started rising again, the town opted for a sneakier approach — though it, too, has an in-your-face element.
In February of this year, officials in the town of 10,100 assigned 20 volunteers to patrol the streets in search of dog owners who don’t pick up after their dogs.
Upon seeing an offense, the undercover volunteers approach the owners and strike up a casual conversation — not mentioning the poop, just feigning interest in the dog and asking about its name and breed.
Once the dog walker departs, the volunteer would pick up the dog poop and put it in a box. Then, using the town’s database of registered dogs, they find out the address of the dog walker. Then they’d deliver the surprise package by hand to the pet owner’s home, along with an official warning.
If that weren’t embarassing enough, they film the reunions between dog owners and their dog’s poop.
Brunete Town Hall estimates the program has reduced the amount of unpicked up dog waste by 70 percent.
Officials aren’t sure whether it’s the threat of the fine, receiving a package of poop, or getting humiliated on camera that’s doing the trick, but they say the program seems to be working.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 7th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, brunete, campaign, clean up, control, deliver, dog, dog owners, dog poop, dog walkers, dogs, feces, fines, home, pets, pick-up, pile, poo, poop, remote, scoop, sidewalks, spain, streets, town, warnings, waste
Standing amid the devastation in Moore, Oklahoma, Barbara Garcia was being interviewed by a TV reporter when the dog she thought she lost to a tornado stuck his nose out from under the flattened remains of her home.
Garcia was recounting sitting in her bathroom with her dog in her lap when the twister hit, and how, just minutes later, she was picking herself up out of the debris.
“[The house] was there, and it was gone…. I had some stuff on top of me and I started wigglin’.”
Her injuries weren’t too severe, but her dog was gone.
“I hollered for my little dog, and, he didn’t answer. He didn’t come,” Garcia told KWTV News 9 reporter Anna Werner.
“So, I know he’s in here somewhere,” she added, pointing to the pile of debris, and not sounding optimistic about his survival.
About then the reporter spotted the dog’s head sticking out of the rubble.
“The dog! The dog! The dog! Hi, puppy!” Werner said as she stooped down to pet Bowsie, a Scottish Terrier.
“Oh, Oh, Bowsie. Oh, Bowsie, bless your little bitty heart,” Garcia said as she and the reporter pulled some crumpled metal off the dog, allowing him to wiggle his way out of the debris.
“Well, I thought that God had just answered one prayer, to let me be OK,” Garcia said. “But he answered both of them.”
Posted by John Woestendiek May 22nd, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: alive, animal, appears, barbara garcia, bowsie, debris, destroyed, disaster, dog, dogs, found, home, moore, oklahoma, pets, pile, rubble, surfaces, tornado, tornado dog
A dog left tied to train tracks in California last month has found a new home.
Unlike that day last month, when he was secured to the tracks in the path of an oncoming train, he had many options to choose from.
Officials at Riverside County’s Department of Animal Services said they received more than 1,300 emails from people interested in adopting the rescued dog they dubbed Banjo. He was found by a Union Pacific crew in Mecca, where he’d been tied to the rails by a man who told authorities the dog was no longer wanted.
The 11-month-old poodle-terrier mix went home Friday with Jeff and Louisa Moore of Huntington Beach.
“He’s so beautiful isn’t he?” Louisa (above) said to her husband, holding Banjo in her arms for the first time.
Letters of interest came in from as far away as England and Puerto Rico, but animal services officials said the Moores were chosen because they constantly checked in on Banjo via e-mail and live close to the beach and a dog park.
Jeff Moore said he and his wife applied to adopt Banjo after seeing his story on the news and Facebook.
“Tonight we’re just going to go home and hang out,” Jeff told the Desert Sun in Palm Beach. “We have a big field that’s right next to our place that about a dozen of us all go out with our dogs, and they all get along really well, so it’ll be fun introducing him to all the dogs. I’m sure they’ll love him.”
Before the couple left, Jo Marie Upegui, a veterinarian technician at Coachella Valley Animal Campus, explained to them that Banjo liked tortillas and snuggling on the couch and that he feared brooms and men in uniform.
The Moores, who also have a Tibetan terrier named Lali, said they planed to create a Facebook page to keep those interested up to date on Banjo’s new life.
Banjo’s name refers to old traffic signals on rail lines. He was discovered when a westbound train crew noticed a hunched-over man walking away from the tracks, leaving the dog behind. The crew alerted dispatchers, who stopped the eastbound train coming down the tracks to which Banjo was tied.
A 78-year-old man was questioned, but not charged. He appeared confused and possibly suffering from dementia. He told investigators his family no longer wanted the dog and didn’t know what to do with him.
(Photo: Riverside County Department of Animal Services)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 20th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandoned, adopt, adopted, adoption, animal services, animals, applicants, banjo, Coachella Valley Animal Campus, dog, dogs, emails, home, huntington beach, interest, mecca, mix, pets, poodle, rescue, riverside county, shelters, tied, tracks, train, union pacific, unwanted, wanted