In fact, he’d prefer it if you’d keep your dog to yourself — out of the park he wants to read in, away from the cafe where he enjoys his Frappuccino, and definitely not in the gym in which he works out.
It was a case of the latter that triggered a well-written, semi-playful, anti-dog diatribe he wrote for Slate last week.
Manjoo argued that dogs are getting too many privileges. He pointed out that not everybody enjoys their presence, cited health hazards they could conceivably pose, and suggested all those people who take their dogs everywhere start leaving them at home.
Not sharing one’s dog? To me, that’s the equivalent of hiding a Van Gogh behind an ironing board in the basement. Or putting a newfound cure for cancer in a time capsule. Or shielding your eyes — just to be safe — from a blazing sunset.
Still, we’d defend Manjoo’s preference to live life without somebody else’s dog in his face. That’s his right. It’s his loss, but it’s also his right.
Manjoo is Slate‘s technology columnist and the author of True Enough: Learning To Live in a Post-Fact Society. So it doesn’t surprise me — he being caught up in all things digital — that he has failed to catch on to or be captivated by the wonder of dogs.
Microchipping aside, dogs and technology are best kept separate. They don’t always get along, maybe because they are the antithesis of each other. Technology may be the cure for everything, but dogs are the cure for technology. We’ll get back to this point, but first let’s look at what Manjoo said — after an unwanted encounter with a Doberman inside his gym.
“The dog came up to me, because in my experience that’s what dogs do when you don’t want them to come up to you. They get up real close, touching you, licking you, theatrically begging you to respond… I guess I was fairly sure he wouldn’t snap and bite me, but stranger things have happened — for instance, dogs snapping and biting people all the time.
“Why was this dog here? And why was no one perturbed that this dog was here?
“…No one was asking because no one could ask. Sometime in the last decade, dogs achieved dominion over urban America. They are everywhere now, allowed in places that used to belong exclusively to humans, and sometimes only to human adults: the office, restaurants, museums, buses, trains, malls, supermarkets, barber shops, banks, post offices… Dogs are frequently allowed to wander off leash, to run toward you and around you, to run across the baseball field or basketball court, to get up in your grill. Even worse than the dogs are the owners, who seem never to consider whether there may be people in the gym/office/restaurant/museum who do not care to be in close proximity to their dogs. …”
Manjoo admits to not being a dog person, but at least — unlike most anti-dog types — he has a sense of humor about it.
“It’s not that I actively despise mutts; I just don’t have much time for them, in the same way I don’t have time for crossword puzzles or Maroon 5,” he writes.
“But here’s my problem: There’s now a cultural assumption that everyone must love dogs. Dog owners are rarely forced to reckon with the idea that there are people who aren’t enthralled by their furry friends, and that taking their dogs everywhere might not be completely pleasant for these folks.”
And seldom, he points out, does anyone whose dog accosts him say they’re sorry.
“… I can promise you she won’t apologize for the imposition. Nor will she ask you if you mind her dog doing what he’s doing. Nor will she pull on its leash, because there won’t be a leash, this being an office, where dogs are as welcome as Wi-Fi and free coffee.”
The same holds true, he notes, at coffee houses.
Here we should point out that the dog pictured atop this post is mine, and that, in the photo, Ace is enjoying an iced coffee product at Starbucks, offered to him by a customer whose behavior indicated she wanted him to visit her table.
When I take Ace to a Starbucks, or most anywhere else, it’s usually pretty apparent who wants to meet him and who doesn’t, and I restrain him accordingly. I don’t have to compile any data or crunch any numbers, I can just tell. It’s not brain surgery, or computer science.
Even though most people go to Starbucks for the free Wi-Fi, or the expensive coffee, I’d estimate about one of two customers wants to meet my dog. Ace — and this isn’t true of every dog — has a way of figuring that out himself, and generally will avoid those who show no interest in him, unless they are in the process of eating a muffin or pastry, in which case he’s willing to overlook the fact they may not be dog lovers.
What makes the numbers even more impressive is that 8 of every 10 customers at your typical Starbucks are under the spell of their computer device and not at all cognizant of what’s going on around them.
Ace is sometimes able to break that spell, at least he does for me.
As for me, I’d rather have access to Fido then Wi-Fi anyday. Fido will soothe me. Wi-Fi will likely, at some point, make me angry and frustrated. Fido will focus me. Wi-Fi will distract me. Wi-Fi will accost me with uninvited and intrusive messages, and send me alerts, and remind me of all the things I need to do today. Fido will remind me all those things aren’t really that important and can wait until tomorrow. Wi-Fi will take me out of the moment; Fido will keep me in it. Wi-fi has no soul. Fido does, and his presence allows our souls – those of us who have them — to be refreshed. Dogs keep us from becoming an entirely manic society.
No one, if I have my laptop on, will want to come up and pet it, except maybe Farhad Manjoo, who — while not having the least bit of interest in my dog — is probably curious about my gigabytes and apps.
On this much I will agree with Manjoo: There are dog owners who seem unaware that not everybody will delight in their dog, oblivious to the fact that some might find their dog annoying and intrusive. Similarly, though, there are parents of children who don’t realize not everybody will delight in their antics. Similarly, too, there are grown-up people who fail to realize that they themselves are annoying and who we’d prefer not to have inflicted upon us.
Unfortunately, we can’t just ban them. Our choices are limited. We could work on being tolerant – of all ages, sizes, shapes and species, despite their noise, intrusiveness and abrasiveness levels. Or we could go somewhere else. Or we could complain.
Sometimes, when visiting a Starbucks or other coffee place, I wonder if I should lodge an official complaint with management about Wi-Fi — objecting to its omnipresence, and how it seems to be turning people into keyboard-pushing zombies.
“No,” I’d say, “I’m not technically allergic to it, but I’m uncomfortable with it near. I’ve had some bad experiences with it. Sometimes it bites people when they least expect it, and I’m pretty sure it harbors germs.”
“But it’s wireless,” the manager might say.
“Exactly,” I’d say with a huff. “Put a leash on it.”
Posted by jwoestendiek May 14th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, apps, behavior, cell phones, coffee, common sense, computers, culture, devices, digital, dislike, dog, dog friendly, dogs, dominion, farhad manjoo, fear, gyms, hate, laptops, leash, leashed, love, manners, parks, pets, place, privileges, public, rights, slate, society, starbucks, technology, unleashed
I’m not sure this Saturday Night Live sketch is worth the 30-second ad you’re required to watch first, but it has its moments.
All in all, though, it makes me long for the good old days, both when it comes to SNL and when it comes to cooking shows.
Once they were soothing things to watch — one person preparing a dish — so simple, so relaxing, so sleep-inducing. Now they’re mostly cut-throat competitions in which multiple chefs feverishly vie to make the most judge-pleasing concoction. Those who fail get axed, or chopped, or otherwise sent home.
And that may be the unkindest cut of all.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 21st, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, axed, behavior, chopped, comedy, competitions, cooking shows, cut, dan akroyd, dogs, julia child, media, pets, saturday night live, sketch, snl, society, television, top check, top dog chef, video
What your dog sees as humpworthy may include other dogs (male and female), your child, your ottoman, your favorite pillow, your house guest, a stuffed animal, your leg, or anything else he — or even she — can latch on to.
It’s one of those canine behaviors we humans find less than endearing, downright embarassing and highly confusing; and, as a result, our reaction is usually to bow our heads in shame, holler at the offending dog, or pretend it’s not happening.
So it’s good to see somebody boldy jumping on the subject — and getting across the point, among others, that the behavior is totally normal.
Julie Hecht, who manages Alexandra Horowitz’s Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College in New York City, explores the ambiguous and often avoided topic of non-reproductive humping in the latest issue of The Bark magazine.
“From tail wagging to barking, dog behavior is riddled with nuance. A wagging tail might convey ‘I’m quite scared’ or ‘This is the best day ever!’ Like tail wagging, mounting is far more complex than it may appear, and there is not one simple explanation. But there are some likely candidates.”
Hecht holds a master’s degree in applied animal behavior and welfare from the University of Edinburgh, and she’s an adjunct professor at Canisius College. More important than any of that, she’s not afraid to tackle a subject that offends the more prim and proper among us.
So is humping sexual, or part of an instinctual urge — “must … reproduce … now” — to create offspring? Is it a display of aggression, an assertion of dominance, or just a way to relieve some pent up energy? Clearly, it’s not always and entirely motivated by sexual arousal, Hecht notes, for pillows aren’t usually that arousing.
For nearly as long as ethologists have studied dogs, they have taken note of dogs’ tendency to hump outside of reproductive contexts, she writes.
University of Colorado ethologist Marc Bekoff observed way back in the 1970s that young canids — pairs of three- to seven-week-old wolves, coyotes and dogs — were prone to pelvic thrusting, and that females also engaged in some of that behavior.
“It’s what dogs do. It’s a completely normal behavior,” explains Carolyn Walsh, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Memorial University of Newfoundland, who studies the nuances of dog behavior in dog parks. “Both males and females mount, regardless of whether [they are] sexually intact or not.”
It can come from a surge of emotion, anxiety or arousal, Walsh explains.
“Dog parks can be quite stimulating, and for those who are highly aroused physiologically, mounting behavior could easily come out. There can be such a buildup of social motivation and the desire to affiliate that some of that energy spills over into the sexual motivation system. You see sexual behavior coming out, but it’s mostly out of context.”
Hecht also interviewed Peter Borchelt, a certified applied animal behaviorist in New York City, who pointed out, “There are only so many behaviors a dog has access to, and dogs do what is part of their species-typical behavior. It is something they know how to do.”
Many dog owners equate humping to dominance and control, but it can also be a friendly and less than lecherous attempt to get another dog to play. It may be a cry for attention, a way for dogs to gauge the bond they have with other dogs, or to test just how much a play partner is willing to tolerate.
“This is the idea that dogs perform potentially annoying behaviors like mounting to test the strength of the recipient’s investment in the relationship,” said Becky Trisko, a behaviorist and owner of Unleashed in Evanston, Ill., who has studied dog-dog interactions in the dog daycare setting.
“It’s like saying, ‘How much will you put up with?’ ‘How much do you really like me?’”
Despite all the dirty connotations we humans attach to pelvic thrusting, with dogs the behavior seems — while stemming from various emotions — to be more of a celebration of life than anything else. Cooped up in houses all day, a trip to the dog park, or even just seeing the leash come out, can get dogs excited to the point that something else comes out. Humping, or even an erection, it seems to me, isn’t all about sex when it comes to dogs — that’s just how we’re prone to interpreting it.
We humans equate it with sexual lust, but, with dogs, humping might just be a natural way to celebrate, like the high-fiving or chest-bumping of frat boys, or that “woo-hoo” noise girls make when they get together.
Looking at it through a less tainted lens, one could even make the argument that the behavior — humping, not woo-hooing — is more charming than it is revolting.
For the dog, joy is joy; and embarassing as it might be for us to see any overlap between sexual pleasure and just plain happiness, dogs don’t seem to get all bogged down in what might be the appropriate expression of their various happy and excited emotions.
Is that dirty? Or is there a certain purity there? Do dogs have their emotions confused? Or do they have it right?
None of this is to say you should try it at home, at the corner bar, or anywhere else. Civilized society dictates we don’t engage in that behavior. It’s only to say we shouldn’t get too bent out of shape when our dogs hump.
Rather than punishing a dog for exhibiting glee, it makes more sense to gently redirect the behavior. Watch closely at the dog park and you’ll see that many dogs — the humpees, as opposed to the humpers – do that themselves, with a growl or snarl.
My dog Ace does not tolerate it — whether it’s him being humped, or another dog. He feels the need to break it up, and, should he see one dog mounting another, he will generally rush over and do so.
I’m not sure where that behavior comes from.
Maybe he has become too human.
(Painting by Lachlan Blair, from his father Stuart Blair’s blog)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 6th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aggression, animals, arousal, barnard college, behavior, behaviorist, boys, canines, carolyn walsh, causes, chest bump, children, civilized, control, cushions, dog, dog cognition lab, dog park, dogs, dominance, embarassing, embarassment, ethologist, excitement, female, girls, glee, happiness, high five, humans, hump, humped, humping, humps, humpworthy, instinct, interpretations, julie hecht, legs, male, marc bekoff, mounting, people, peter borchelt, pets, pillows, play, reasons, reproductive, sexual, socializing, society, the bark, urge, woo hoo
At least that’s how your dog sees you, says Scientific American.
Unlike their wolfish ancestors, who hunted for their food, domestic dogs have become socially attached to humans, and see us as the route to dinner. Hence, those long, soulful – and, we must insist, no matter what scientists say, loving – stares we get when feeding time comes near.
To which we, being tools, generally respond.
Scientific American takes a look at how wolves and dogs have come to differ — when it comes to the source of dinner and more — in the 15,000 or more years since the domestic dog came into being.
The article focuses on a study done several years ago at Eotvos University in Budapest — aimed at determining whether the differences between dogs and wolves, socially and cognitively, were primarily genetic or experiential.
Scientists hand-raised a group of dog puppies and a group of wolf pups, starting six days after they were born.
For the first months of their lives, the wolf and dog pups were in close contact with human foster parents. They lived in the homes of their caregivers and slept with them at night. They were bottle-fed, and then hand-fed, and the human caregivers carried them in a pouch so that both wolf and dog pups could participate in as much of their daily activities as possible.
Both dogs and wolves traveled on public transportation, attended classes, and had extensive experience meeting unfamiliar humans.
At 9 weeks of age, plates of food were shown to both the wolf and dog pups. But the only way either could get it was to have eye contact with the human experimenters.
After the first minute, the dogs began to look at the humans. The wolves never seemed to catch on, staying focused on the food they couldn’t reach.
“In one sense, this is a remarkable example of tool use. Only in this case, the humans were the tools, and the dogs the tool-users,” the article notes.
In a second experiment, involving opening a bin, dogs spontaneously interacted with humans, while the wolves all but ignored the human caregivers.
“Despite the fact that they had been fully socialized, the wolves treated each of the situations as physical problems rather than social ones. Only rarely did they ever attempt to engage in a communicative problem-solving interaction with a human. It’s not that wolves are unintelligent; it’s quite the opposite, in fact. Wolves are cooperative hunters, skilled at negotiating within their own social networks. It’s just that even after being raised by humans, wolves simply do not see humans as potential social partners.”
Posted by jwoestendiek May 1st, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, behavior, cognitive, differences, dog, dogs, domesticated, domestication, experiment, feeding, food, genetics, humans, hunting, interaction, nurture, partners, pets, science, scientific american, social, socialization, society, tool, wolf, wolves
I eat meat.
According to an article in the upcoming issue of ESPN magazine, by senior writer David Fleming, that makes me a hypocrite.
Or so he seems to be saying as he ponders why so many people continue to criticize the quarterback, as opposed to getting on the Michael Vick bandwagon to root root root for the dog killer and his amazing on-field comeback.
Fleming attempts to get to the root of the lingering resentment against Vick by examining psychological and sociological factors that he says have resulted in an “uniquely American ethos — one that has transformed dogs into our version of Hindu’s sacred cows and one that exposes a deep-seated hypocrisy regarding animal cruelty.”
Certainly, the status of dogs has risen in the past 50 years. Maybe, as he suggests, suburbanization, the rise of technology and human loneliness had something to do with it. But it’s not a strictly American phenomenon, and it has nothing to do with religion.
What it does have to do with — and Fleming totally neglects this — is that dogs have earned their place. There is a heirarchy in the animal kingdom, and dogs have, by virtue of their record of accomplishment, risen to the top of it. Research has shown, despite what Fleming says, the many ways dogs benefit us, that their cognitive skills go beyond anything we ever expected, and their service to humanity far exceeds that of any other species.
But, to hear Fleming tell it, it’s as if dogs, with no underlying reason, suddenly and unexplicably became the most loved of animals:
“Never mind that there are no definitive studies for or against the idea that having pets makes for happier people or that many anthrozoologists question whether dogs are capable of feeling or sharing what we cherish the most about them — unconditional love. Our pooches do make us feel loved, and that easily trumps fact or reason.”
But dogs, in case he hasn’t noticed, do far more than make us feel loved. They have, to put it bluntly, risen above the herd.
Maybe it’s politically incorrect, or worse, to say that dogs occupy a level above the rest of the animal kingdom. But, in truth, how many seeing-eye chickens do you see out there? How many search and rescue turtles do you know, or seizure-detecting turkeys, or bomb-sniffing pigs?
As George Orwell wrote in Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”
Some animal rights purists don’t see it that way, and maintain the value of all animals is the same. In the article, Peter Singer — seen by some as the founder of the modern day animal rights movement — backs up what seems to be the author’s point: People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, and if you eat McNuggets or Big Macs, or any meat, you’re a glass house dweller.
In the reasoning of Fleming and the experts he quotes: (A) If you eat meat you have no right to criticize Michael Vick for killing dogs; (B) People who care about the welfare of dogs have no compassion for the welfare of people; and (C) Dog lovers should be helping the needy humans of the world.
Fleming’s article, like the book it quotes from — Hal Herzog’s “Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s so Hard to Think Straight About Animals” — sees society as having put dogs on a pedestal, and sees that as a symptom of our moral ambiguity when it comes to animals.
It’s all a bit reminiscent of the alarm sounded in “Petishism, Pet Cults of the Western World,” the 1968 book by Kathleen Szasz that looked at our preoccupation with dogs as something close to a psychiatric disorder.
True, we humans do some outlandishly wacky things in the name of love for our dogs, but to view the status dogs have achieved — sometimes with our help, sometimes despite it — as something fraudulent, unearned, or not to be believed is both superficial and uninformed.
There seems to be a rising tide of those who, like Szasz four decades ago, fret about the standing and privileges dogs have been afforded in western culture. Why, it’s almost as if — they say, as if it boggles their minds — we’re treating them as children.
Well, think about it. We created them. We domesticated them. We insisted they no longer be wild. We usurped them of their survival skills. We bred them into shapes we liked. We made them do chores, and put them in our handbags, and entered them in contests. We made them what they are (dependent on us), and elevated them to where they are (in our beds, on our sofas and atop the animal heap).
Given that, in my view, we have an obligation to rear them properly, much like children — and not to drown them, bludgeon them, electrocute them, shoot them, dispose of them in Dumpsters when they become inconvenient, or make them fight each other until death.
If that belief is is outlandish, call me an outlandish, politically incorrect, meat-eating hypocrite.
“People should look at what they’re eating and what they’re spending their dollars on and what kind of animal abuse they themselves are supporting,” says Singer. “And if they haven’t taken a good look at that, I don’t think they have much right to criticize Vick.”
I hate to argue with a hero, but they have every right. You don’t have to be a saint to point out a sin. Sometimes, if something enrages you to the extent you must speak out — no matter how long ago it happened, or what kind of house you live in — you’re going to hurl a stone or two.
You don’t have to be Mother Teresa to be entitled to do so.
If there are any sacred cows in this whole big picture, in my opinion, they would be the professional athletes, particularly the ones who consider themselves above the law. They, with help and repeated stroking from outfits like ESPN — Vick not only appears on the cover of the magazine, but the entire issue is devoted to him — are turned into mythical heroes, bestowed with untouchable status, and glorified out of all proportion, all for playing silly games for exorbitant salaries.
I have absolutely no problem idolizing dogs more than them.
Posted by jwoestendiek August 26th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal rights, animal welfare, animals, article, breeds, david fleming, dogfighting, dogs, domestication, espn, evolution, george orwell, hal herzog, heirarchy, hypocrisy, idolatry, image, kathleen szasz, lingering, magazine, meat, michael vick, news, nfl, peter singer, petishism, pets, place, resentment, sacred cows, society, sports, status
This year fewer than 4 million unwanted dogs and cats will be euthanized, down from as many as 20 million before 1970, the Associated Press reported this week.
That figure’s still nothing to brag about, but it’s a massive improvement, and a testament — not just to surgery, but to the work shelters, rescue groups and animal welfare organizations do to encourage adoptions.
Most animal experts, though, according to the AP story, believe spaying and neutering has played the biggest role in reducing the number of unwanted, euthanized pets.
Nearly every public shelter, private rescue or animal welfare organization in the country now donates money, space or time to low-cost spay and neuter clinics, and spaying and neutering, in addition to becoming a requirement for most adoptions, has become the law in some states, counties and cities.
Spaying and neutering have also become less traumatic — for pets and owners.
“Now they make a one- or two-inch incision and use self-absorbing sutures” that mean a much quicker recovery for the animals, said Stephen Zawistowski, science adviser for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
Zawistowski recalled when he got his first dog spayed 50 years ago, “she had an incision that must have been a foot long and was sewn up with what looked like piano wire.”
In addition to eliminating shelter kills, spaying and neutering can make pets easier to manage, less aggressive and healthier, said Andrew N. Rowan, president and CEO of Humane Society International and chief scientific officer for the Humane Society of the United States.
The first public spay and neuter clinic in the U.S., according to the AP story, was opened in Los Angeles in 1969.
What makes the figures all the more impressive is that the decline in the number of animals being euthanized each year comes even as the pet population has boomed. There were about 62 million companion pets in 1970, versus about 170 million today, Zawistowski said.
In years ahead, sterilizing a dog or cat may not always mean surgery. Work continues on pills, implants and vaccines that render cats and dogs unable to reproduce.
Dr. Gary Michelson, a billionaire orthopedic spinal surgeon and founder of Found Animals, posted a $25 million prize in 2008 for the creator of an affordable chemical sterilant, and has put up another $25 million for grants to scientists doing the research.
“When we first saw grant proposals coming in, we saw old ideas that had been laying around for 15 or 20 years. What we are seeing now are proposals based on cutting edge science — areas related to cancer and stem cell research. The level and sophistication of the science has moved to a higher level,” said Zawistowski, who is on the prize board.
In 2003, the FDA approved the first sterilant for male dogs. But at about $50 a shot, Neutersol was too costly. It was reworked, the price was cut to about $6 a dose and it was again approved by the FDA under the name Esterilsol. After trials around the world, it is expected to be available in the United States later this year.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 6th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: andrew rowan, animals, aspca, cats, chemical, clinics, contraception, dogs, esterilsol, euthanasia, euthanized, found animals, hsus, neuter, neutering, neutersol, perceptions, pets, pills, reproduction, rescues, shelters, society, spay, spaying, stephen zawistowski, sterilizing, surgery, unwanted
Ace and I finally got around to doing one of the things that was on our to-do list during our travels — attend a Minor League baseball game.
Across America, dog-friendly baseball games are growing more popular. For several years, many Minor League teams have been sponsoring them, and the big leagues are starting to catch on. At least 15 Major League ballparks are holding dog-friendly games this season.
Just 30 minutes down the road, in downtown Greensboro, the stadium was a gem, the traffic was non-existent and parking was plentiful (and only $3).
Those are some of the reasons I find Minor League baseball so much more of a pleasure: The prices, for tickets or concessions, aren’t exorbitant. The crowds aren’t huge. The fans aren’t obnoxious. It’s just much more laid back.
On Tuesday night, the tickets were $6 each, and a “pooch pass” ran $3. Beers were $1, hot dogs, too. There was no extra charge for the sunset.
Everybody seemed happy, at least on Natty Hill, the grassy knoll in left field set aside for fans bringing their dogs.
What I liked best about it was seeing so many people bonding with their dogs, and bonding with other people’s dogs, and bonding with other dog’s people.
Minor League baseball, particularly on dog nights, offers a sense of community — something that seems to be fading away in America. We’re more connected than ever, thanks to gadgetry, but somehow more insulated, too. We’re “communicating” more than ever, but not saying much at all.
The Greensboro Grasshoppers, the Delmarva Shorebirds, the Bowie Baysox, or the Toledo Mud Hens (and we’ve got to mention the Reno Aces) may not be the solution to that, but it’s nice to have a venue where you can look a person in the eye and exchange words.
Or, if you prefer, spend some time quietly connecting with your dog.
Either way, the dog’s there for you — whether you want to meditate or congregate.
In my book, when it comes to being social, a dog is much better than a BlackBerry or cell phone, Facebook or Twitter or Match.com — for the connection you make with a dog is much more clear and pure and genuine.
If dog nights at the ballpark weren’t already win-win enough, they also raise money for local shelters and rescues. All “pooch pass” fees at the Grasshoppers’ Tuesday night game went to Red Dog Farm, an animal rescue network based in Greensboro.
The Grasshoppers were holding two dog-friendly games a season, but this year dropped down to one.
We missed out on the pre-game doggie festivities, as Ace felt the need to make his mark on the streets of downtown Greensboro. Even though parking was right across the street, it took us more than 20 minutes, with his frequent stops, to get to the gate.
One inside the stadium, he stopped to meet some of the adoptable dogs Red Dog Farm had brought to the game. At first he had to check out every dog he encountered — and there had to be over 100 at the game — but eventually he became more selective.
Sitting on a grassy hill in left field — filled with people and dogs — proved a little problematic for him, as he kept sliding down. But we spent most of the time wandering around — me hydrating on $1 beers, Ace patronizing the many bowls of water placed about.
One red bucket in particular intrigued him. He thought he saw something at the bottom of it, and repeatedly submerged his entire head in it, not realizing all he was seeing was the raised surface at the bottom of the bucket.
A crowd gathered to watch and take pictures.
During nine innings of baseball, I answered the question, “What kind of dog is that?” 36 times; the question of how much he weighs at least a dozen; the question of how he got his head all wet about 10.
Back on our blanket on the hill, we enjoyed a sunset on one end of the stadium and, as the game came to an end, watched the moon rise like a pop fly over the other.
We’ll close with a baseball trivia question: Who was the first canine ever ejected from a baseball game?
Answer: Yogi Berra, a mascot for the Greensboro Grasshoppers. He was showing his ball retrieving skills between innings in a 2009 game (despite a stomach virus) when he stopped for a bowel movement on the field (an event noted in news reports and memorialized on YouTube). The home plate umpire, apparently offended by the act, ordered him ejected.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 15th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, allow, allowed, america, ball park, ballpark, bark in the park, baseball, bonding, communicating, community, connecting, dog friendly, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, events, grasshoppers, greensboro, insular, insulated, major league, minor league, north carolina, road trip, social, socializing, society, sports, stadiums, teams, travels with ace, winston salem dash, yogi berra
Observing my dog Ace over the past year – at the beach, in the mountains, in deserts, forests, city streets, suburban lawns and campgrounds all across the USA – I’ve noticed that he is much more interested in some forms of wildlife than he is in others.
Between our travels and the five years we shared before that, I’ve been able to chart the degree of fascination he seems to hold for different species of animals — from those that seem to enthrall him to those whose appearances produce a reaction more like ho-hum, been there, done that.
When I say “chart,” I am not using the term loosely:
Using a scale of 1 to 10 — 1 being barely piquing his curiousity, 10 being the utmost peak of piqued — I have ranked Ace’s seeming degree of interest in cats, crabs, cows and other creatures. Keep in mind, every dog — based on his genes and environment — probably has a different scale of interest in other species. So your actual dog may vary.
I have no idea how much of Ace’s reaction is sight-based, as opposed to scent-based, but it seems he’s most excited about species he has never seen (or smelled) before, or only rarely sees (or smells), whereas those that are a part of every day, squirrels for instance — abbreviated as SQ in the chart above – are worth little more than a yawn.
If, however, there are two squirrels, and they are chasing each other around a tree, or along a telephone line, making squirrel noises, then Ace’s interest rises to an 8.
He was slightly more interested in the white squirrels of Brevard, but that may be because I didn’t let him out of the car, or because he detected I was more interested in them.
Where we are staying now, in a residential neighborhood in Winston-Salem, N.C., there are tons of chipmunks — OK, not tons, but a whole lot — and I’m pretty sure Ace had never seen a chipmunk before. On Ace’s scale, chipmunks rate a 7. He doesn’t that get excited when he sees one, but when they suddenly disappear from view, going down a hole in the ground, his ears prick up, his head rises, he scouts around with a look of concern in his eyes. Then a minute later he seems to have forgotten about them.
Ducks rate a 2, probably because he sees them often — basically everytime he goes to visit my mother (mom rated a 2 with him, but since she’s gotten into the routine of giving him treats, she’s now a full 10).
Don’t get me wrong. He likes the ducks at Arbor Acres, but they don’t seem to stimulate him as much as they did the first time he saw them.
Baby ducks are another story.
He was fascinated — a 9 on the scale — by those my mother was harboring in her room a couple of years back, perhaps because they were babies, perhaps because they were in her room, or, again, maybe because we were so interested in them.
He seems to be very interested in all forms of babies, with the possible exception of human ones, who rate a quick sniff and only a 2 on the Scale of Interest.
Cats rate the maximum 10. While he has seen a lot, and co-resided temporarily with a couple — Miley, for one – his fascination with cats has never diminished.
No other animal species makes Ace perk up as much as a cat. They tend to avoid him (except for staring contests from afar). In our travels, we stayed with at least three. He befriended those who let him. Those who avoided him only made him more intrigued. The only thing more interesting than a cat in full view, it seems, is an almost hidden one whose, say, tail, is poking out from under a chair.
But I’d probably be wrong.
Rabbits rate an 8 with Ace.
He saw several while we were staying in our trailer in the Arizona desert, and lots more — though they seem a shorter and stubbier, slightly more fluffy variety – here in North Carolina.
I don’t know how skunks rate with Ace, and hope I never find out. I don’t know how bears rate, and would just as soon avoid learning that as well.
As for bugs, it depends on what they’re doing and where they are. A cricket in the house can rise to an 8 on his scale. An ant on the sidewalk rates a 1 or less. A bee or fly hovering around his face gets his attention, but is more an annoyance to be snapped at than a species to be studied.
Cows rate about a 4, while horses come in at an average of 6. Horses in a distant pasture aren’t too exciting to him, but one that’s up close merits his scrutiny. He was all but smitten with, and only slightly wary of, a horse named Goblin that we met in Maine.
Turtles rate a 9, in large part — and again I’m using my human brain to guess — because of their novelty and the way they move, taking a few steps, disappearing into their shells, sticking their heads out and taking a few steps more.
Crabs are a curiosity as well, rating a 5 when they are alive and moving, only a 2 when they’ve gone to the great beyond, leaving their earthly shells behind. Then they are but flotsam, part of the potpourri of beach muck that, while definitely worth a good long sniff, is otherwise like a bad summertime novel. After a chapter or less you move on.
That leaves humans, who in some ways are difficult to rank on the scale.
A baby human, to Ace, is like a crab — about a 5, worth sniffing but not lingering with. A baby’s cry must be checked out, but once it is, Ace no longer appreciates it. A human with a bag — no matter what’s in it — is a full 10.
Humans aged 5 to 12 rate a 7. Adult males rate an 8. Adult females rate a 9. Humans with treats rate a 15.
Homeless people rate an 11. I don’t know if it’s because of more interesting scents, or because they usually have bags. Maybe, too, it’s because they often sit on the sidewalk and dogs seem to appreciate it when humans are at their level.
In every town in our travels that we encountered homeless folk — and that was pretty much every town in our travels — Ace seemed to feel the need to at least say hi, if not take a seat or lay down next to them.
I hesitate to add to all my previous anthropomorphizations — assuming that’s a word, and I spelled it right — but permit me one more unscientific human interpretation of my dog’s behavior.
Most dogs experts will tell you compassion is not in a dog’s emotional repertoire. But this is what I like, and tend, to believe:
I think he can sense when somebody needs a friend.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 13th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, adults, america, animals, anthropomorphism, behavior, cats, chart, children, chipmunks, cows, crabs, creatures, curiosity, dog, dogs, ducks, fascination, females, forms, geese, graph, homeless people, horses, interaction, interest, males, observations, pets, rabbits, rate, rating, road trip, seagulls, social, society, species, squirrels, study, travels with ace, turtles, wildlife
Here’s a new dog treat even more tasteless than the Michael Vick chew toy.
A San Francisco pet boutique is selling Osama Bone Laden, a stuffed likeness of the slain terrorist that contains a rawhide chew inside.
The website of Best in Show, a trendy pet boutique located in the city’s Castro district, describes it this way:
“The revolutionary, patent pending, dog toy with a yummy rawhide chew bone sewn inside. If you have a dog that tears apart every toy, this is for them! Now, instead of a plastic squeaker you throw away, your dog can enjoy the chew bone for hours or days.”
I’m not sure if the manufacturer drew inspiration from reports that a military dog was along on the surprise assault that left bin Laden dead, but if so, they didn’t waste any time getting the product on the market.
Priced at $6.95, the chew toy depicts the al Qaeda leader wielding a sword and a bandage on his head that says, “Ouch, I’m Ready to Fight.”
Afraid I’ll have to give it a thumbs down, more for reasons moral than practical — though all that fabric would seem to pose choking hazards.
Hunting down bin Laden was one thing, killing him was another. But all the chest thumping, celebrating and bad late night TV jokes, I think, are a little sickening, and a little more shallow and savage than I want the society I live in to be.
Just something to chew on.
Posted by jwoestendiek May 10th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: al qaeda, america, animals, assault, best in show, bin laden, bone laden, celebration, chest thumping, chew toy, death, dog, dog toy, dog treats, dogs, jokes, killing, novelties, osama, osama bin laden, osama bone laden, pets, raid, rawhide, revenge, san francisco, society, vengeance
Opposition is mounting to the new game app “Dog Wars,” and among those speaking out is Michael Vick.
According to the NBC blog, Digital Life, the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, who served 21 months in jail for operating a dogfighting ring, released a statement, in conjuntion with the Humane Society of the United States, against the free app, now available as a free download through Google’s Android Market.
“I’ve come to learn the hard way that dogfighting is a dead-end street. Now, I am on the right side of this issue, and I think it’s important to send the smart message to kids, and not glorify this form of animal cruelty, even in an Android app,” Vick is quoted as saying in the statement.
Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS, added, “Android should drop ‘Dog Wars’ from its online market and join the national movement to save dogs from this violent practice. Because “Dog Wars” actually instructs players on how to condition a dog using methods that are standard in organized dogfighting, this game may be a virtual training ground for would-be dogfighters. Its timing and message are all wrong.”
Meanhile, a petition calling for the game’s removal from the marketplace has been launched at Change.org, the same open petition website on which 150,000 people signed a petition demanding Apple drop a “gay cure” game from its App store.
(Android is an open source operating system created by Google. While Google does not approve every app offered there, it does maintain a website where people can complain about objectionable content in games and apps. You can find it here.)
The Massachusetts SPCA also has spoken out against the dogfighting game app.
“Although illegal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, dog fighting remains a pervasive problem in America and is investigated inby the MSPCA’s Law Enforcement department. Dog Wars is a sickening tool that can be used to recruit potential dogfighters about how to train future victims, perpetuate breed specific stereotypes, and undermine the many years of hard work that animal protection agencies, including the MSPCA-Angell, have contributed to ensure strong penalties against dog fighters and spectators,” said Carter Luke, MSPCA-Angell president
“In the past, dog fighting instruction remained underground; however this ‘game’ brings this knowledge to the mainstream public through a tool attractive to young game players. Similar to the Dog Wars application, real life trainers work to ensure a mean temperament in kind animals from puppyhood, subjecting the young animals to ongoing cruelty and neglect, including living without shelter, enduring bouts of starvation, and sustaining beatings. To improve stamina and muscle mass, trainers also impose exhausting treadmill exercises on their dogs and force them to wear heavy chains around their necks. Identical to Dog Wars, the dogs are fed steroids and stimulants to increase their aggression. Dogs who refuse to fight, or consistently lose, may be shot, hanged, drowned, or electrocuted by their trainers. To further promote viciousness, trainers bait their dogs with intentionally wounded dogs, puppies, cats, and other small animals.
“The training ground that Dog Wars provides has the potential to increase occurrences of animal cruelty as well as violence against humans. In a study performed by the MSPCA and Northeastern University we definitively discovered the correlation between those who abuse both animals and humans. Our research proved that those who abuse animals have the same psychological detachment as those who abuse humans and may harm animals after purposefully injuring people.”
Posted by jwoestendiek April 26th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: android, animal welfare, app, carter luke, cruelty, dog wars, dogfight, dogfighting, game, google, hsus, humane society of the united states, michael vick, mspca, mspca-angell, pit bulls, society, video games, violence, wayne pacelle