Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"I don't need a leash, my dog is trained"

Whenever I hear "I don't need a leash, my dog is trained"...

Not using a leash is a sign that someone needs to check their ego and realize that it isn't all about them. Using a leash means I have a wide enough scope to recognize that the world is beyond my control, and that unanticipated events could happen at any moment.

I wear a seatbelt in the car because it's the law. I wear a seatbelt because I don't just drive on lonely country roads, and I realize there are other cars out there. Because I understand that, no matter how good a driver I may be, accidents can happen. Because I know that road conditions can abruptly change and I need to be prepared if something unexpected happens. Because I know that my elite driving skills can't always prevent shit from happening, and I want to be as safe as I can be if/when it does. Because I know that my wearing a seatbelt helps to protect other people around me, and in a collision I don't want my mangled body to become a projectile and harm those in the car with me.

I use a leash for almost the exact same reasons. It is the law. Unless I'm restricting myself to rural areas, there are other people and dogs and animals out there. Even if my dog is trained and/or friendly, not everyone else is willing or prepared to deal with him. I cannot anticipate what I am going to encounter when I leave my house, there could be distractions I never even dreamed of. There could be a pack of shrieking children, there could be a deranged raccoon, there could be a fucking earthquake. No matter what happens, I will still be attached to my dog.

Using a leash everywhere except designated off-leash areas tells the world: "I am a responsible dog owner, I respect the rules and the rights of other people to feel safe around my dog, because let's face it, a huge percentage of the dog is untrained with poor manners."

Not using a leash in areas where they are required tells the world: "My ego takes precedence over the safety of my dog, the law, and the rights of others. I don't care that my actions reflect poorly on other dog owners, or that the mere sight of my unleashed dog can lead to dogs being banned entirely from certain public places. I am a special snowflake."

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Blue Eyes.

I recently fostered a rescue dog that was...um...unique. He was mostly or all blue Australian cattledog, with blue eyes. This gave him a permanent case of crazy eyes.

Fortunately he was also a wonderfully well-behaved dog, to the point of being boring sometimes. We got tons of applications for him and he went to his new home within a couple of weeks. This freed me from my obligation to provide the rescue with "better" pictures of him...

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


I noticed recently that I like my niece a whole more than I like my nephew. This makes me a terrible person.

It's not his fault, it's just that he has a long was to go before he is nearly as cool as his sister. She was pretty interesting when she was learning how to walk and talk and stuff, but she's way more exciting now that she has ideas and questions and plays pretend. Meanwhile, her brother just turned two, and the walking and talking stuff seems pretty boring by comparison.

It doesn't help that my niece was speech-delayed and then caught up very suddenly, leading me to believe that language acquisition was a fairly expedient process. I totally thought that kids started talking and then used that as their primary form of communication.

Actually, it turns out that language acquisition is a very slow process that begins with the kid pointing at things and making sounds. According to people with kids, this counts as "talking". My nephew has been "talking" for a year now and I still hear nothing but gibberish. The adults he has lived with (my sister, her husband, and my parents up until a year ago) all know what those sounds mean, and can't understand why I don't respond when he babbles a string of syllables at me.

I assume he will eventually start speaking intelligible words like a normal person, but for now our linguistic divide makes it difficult for us to relate. I am perpetually finding things to bring my niece, usually stuff I was going to get rid of and realized she would enjoy. This means I almost always come bearing treasures for her, usually with nothing for my nephew. I imagine at some point I will start finding things for him too, probably when he gets more interesting and less equally amused by binoculars and paper towel rolls. Otherwise I have no idea how I'm going to handle my desire to bring bags of wonderful things just for niece.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Dog Ownership

I can't ever remember not wanting a dog. My entire childhood was spent reading about dogs, looking at pictures of dogs, pretending to train my stuffed dogs, and chasing down passers-by begging to pet their dogs.

I walked all the dogs in my neighborhood. I attempted to catch every loose dog I saw. I desperately wanted a dog of my own, and I was always hoping that maybe wouldn't be able to find the owners and I would get to keep one of those strays, just like in my dog books. Of course, we always managed to find their owners, and my parents really didn't want to deal with a dog so they always had an excuse why I couldn't have one. Our yard wasn't secure enough, dogs were too expensive. They said wouldn't want to feed it or walk it or clean up its poop. Every breed was either too big, too small and yappy, too noisy, or potentially aggressive.

I don't think they ever understood how much it hurt for me to not have a dog. Real, actual pain. It was a constant, aching void. Nearly every day I would find a place and time to quietly cry that I didn't have a dog. I had an imaginary dog that followed me everywhere, something I could pretend was taking up that empty spot behind me where my dog should be. I could never make anyone understand how utterly incomplete I felt, without something that I had never had.

Dogs have been following human beings around for 30,000 years, that's longer than we've had agriculture or permanent settlements. It's longer than we've had writing, and almost as long as we've had language. Maybe it's long enough for people to have evolved adaptations around dogs. Maybe dogs became ubiquitous in human culture because some of us actually need dogs. I really don't have any evidence to back up this vague idea, it's also distinctly possible that I have some sort of mental disease involving dogs. At any rate, when I was 12 one of the dogs I walked regularly was offered to me because her family was moving, and my parents finally, finally let me have a dog.

It has been nearly two decades now, and the novelty still hasn't worn off. It might have actually gotten stronger. I am heavily involved in dog rescue, have competed in dog sports, and advocate for animal welfare and humane legislation. Training my dogs is one of my primary hobbies. I currently work at a dog daycare, and started a dog blog about Awesomedog, Tinydog, and my various foster dogs. Having dogs has been every bit as awesome as I always imagined, if not better.

Monday, June 2, 2014


Whenever I make eye contact with a baby without its keeper watching, I stare at it to see if I can make it cry.