Monday, May 30, 2011

A Bad Doggie Treat is Very Bland

Now a Good Doggie Treat

H/T to Carol Gravestock for this scene from the sitcom Modern Family.

(You can watch the entire episode at the link. This scene starts at about the seven-minute mark.)

A young entrepreneur is pitching his get-rich-quick scheme to a successful businessman and his soft-hearted wife

-- Are you aware, last year, Americans spent forty billion dollars on dog training?

That's not true.

-- I was surprised as you are!

We're surprised because it's not true.

-- What is this multi-billion dollar industry missing?

Multi-billion dollars.

-- I have devised a revolutionary way to communicate ...

Aaaggh ... I hate to interrupt your big pitch, but your dog is chewing my pillow.

-- Is fantastic.

It's not fantastic for my pillow.

-- It's the perfect opportunity for me to demonstrate ... the Good Doggie / Bad Doggie Training System!

Whoa, whoa, slow down -- what are we going to do about the pillow situation?

-- Watch and be amazed! Stella here is being a bad doggie ... Stella bad dog bad dog bad dog.

-- Now what does a bad dog get? A Bad Doggie Treat!

You're gonna give her a treat for doing something bad?

-- Ah -- a Bad Doggie treat. When she is good, she gets the Good Doggie treat.

Whoa wha ... What is the difference between the Bad Doggie treat and the Good Doggie treat?

-- Bacon. The Bad Doggie treat is very bland.

But she seems like she likes it.

-- Wait 'til you see the Good Doggie treat!

-- Stella sit! Now, a Good Doggie treat.

-- Yeah -- she's still full from the Bad Doggie treat. But there you have it! The Good Doggie / Bad Doggie Training System! Welcome to the ground floor!

Actually, she's peeing on the ground floor.

Quick, quick, give her a bad doggie treat!

I read the synopsis from Carol's blog to Perfesser Chaos in the car. He was using all his Powers of Spousal Listening, yet somehow missed the part where I told him it was a scene from a sitcom.

To him, the Good Doggie / Bad Doggie System seemed perfectly plausible in the context of the parade of rainbows and fairy farts training fads that shoplift the mantle of "science" while shaming owners until they are helpless milquetoasts and their dogs are rudderless terrorists.

I would like to give some Modern Family scriptwriter props for a consciously wicked sendup of stiletto-heel "dog training." One can only hope. As with other pop-constructed (non)realities, the best way to deflate them is for some ironic media hipster to find them mockworthy.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Photo Phriday: Cow. Dogs.

More later; Blogger is crawling along tonight.

Brandywine Briar Rose and Caledonia Danny Boy. I do not remember the name uf da cow.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Snapshot Sunday: Raptured

"Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads."

I'll take this world, thanks.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Brandywine Farm English Shepherd Gathering is Coming

Will we see you there?

RSVP by email, at the event's Facebook page, or in a comment on the event page -- full names, please, so we know which Jane or Joe has responded, and how many people and dogs you are bringing. We need to know how many people are coming so we can thaw enough chickens! We need to know how many dogs so we can brag about it.

I'll have a schedule and maps up later this week, as well as a guide on local attractions, services, and eats. Hotel and campground information is already on the event page.

I've started a chipin to cover the costs of renting the park and community center, agility equipment, charcoal, supplies, beverages, etc. Anything collected above expenses will be split between National English Shepherd Rescue and the English Shepherd Club Health and Genetics committee.

The door prize will be a Brandywine Farm Basket o' Noms. The prize winner will determine the specific contents depending of individual preference and whether the items will be shipped, and how far. It may include a selection of eggs, cheese, home-canned goods, frozen chicken, rabbit, guinea fowl. We can even devise a basket for a vegan, if you like marinara and jam and salad dressing. You do not need to be present to win. You don't even have to come to the gathering.

You can buy door prize tickets at the event, too, but this way it's out of the way and you can just relax and enjoy the gathering -- and we've got the lettuce to pay for the hall and the supplies up-front.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Three Cups of Dog Shampoo

Back in March, while Japan bled and scoundrels found ways to make money off of it, I published this post, cautioning good-hearted people to be skeptical of the claims of certain charities.

Because when a panhandler rides a media snowball while throwing out vague images of rescued goggies becoming rescuers, apparently everyone whose job it is to scrutinize such things loses her damned mind. And puts up a Paypal button.

Why, it's almost as if someone claimed to have been lost in the Himalaya, and held prisoner by the Taliban, and also that he's building schools for girls in Pakistan for which you need to send him mor moneez. I mean, who would lie about something like that? And the media all said he was legit, so why wouldn't you trust those guys, they always check out the charities that they plug, right?

What kind of scoundrel solicits charity and then puts it in her own pocket, her friends' pockets, and doesn't produce anything like the claimed results? People call me a cynic ...

Anyway, within that post I used a SAR dog unit called CARDA -- California Rescue Dog Association -- as a foil. Because CARDA is everything that the NDSDF is not -- a lean, efficient, effective, highly reputable producer and deployer of life-saving canine SAR teams within the state of California.

And after reading CARDA's tax returns, I took them to task, because they utterly suck at fundraising. Because of this sucking at fundraising -- or rather, because they don't have any money -- the financial burden on their individual handlers is higher than it should be. And in this economy, that means that lost people may not get the help they need as fast as they need it, because a handler is calculating whether she can afford the gas to respond to a search -- among other considerations. Or a handler has to pass on a special training seminar because of the cost, and doesn't have that new or extra-honed skill when the time comes. Or a handler has to quit outright because of the overall cost of staying trained and responding.

Well, CARDA is having a fundraiser. If I upbraided them for not doing it before, I guess it is beholden on me to help them now that they are putting forth the effort.

So, if you live in California, go to Pet Food Express this Saturday, meet some of the search dogs who are ready to save your bacon, and get your dog washed. Buy tokens and use them later. Buy tokens and donate them. Buy some of that Natural Balance dog food -- it seems like a good brand. Just donate to CARDA outright.

All the deets are here.

If you have a blog -- especially a California-related or based blog -- post today or Friday. If you are on social media, post and tweet this.

Help people find out who really fields life-saving search dog teams in California, and help them continue to do so.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Iz Proud ...

Congratulations to the whole staff of The Allegheny Front; four finalists and two big winners in the Western PA Golden Quill competition this year.

But especially to our own Perfesser Chaos, who won Best Writing for Radio for his very first radio commentary.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Helpful Note for Reporters: Why I Am Not an "Animal Rights Activist" (and neither is that guy, no matter what your lazy editor let you call him)

Dear Journalists:

Activist: An especially active, vigorous proponent of a cause, especially a political cause.

Animal rights:
The idea that the most basic interests of non-human animals should be afforded the same consideration as the similar interests of human beings.

Okay, are we clear here? No? I wish I could say I'm surprised. I'll expand. There will be some three-syllable words (including "syllable") so pay attention.

An animal rights activist is someone who expends substantial time and energy in the political and social arena advancing the proposition that a dog, chicken, ebola, non-human primate, cuttlefish, etc. has moral claims on human beings that are ethically indistinguishable from the moral claim that one human being has on the conduct of another human being.

Someone who just kind of vaguely thinks that "equal rights" for cute animals is a good idea and doesn't do much about it -- no rallying, canvassing, protesting, letter-writing, petition-circulating, Thanksgiving dinner-ruining, lobbying, campaigning, megaphone-wielding -- is not an "activist." Not eating at McDonalds is not activism.

This guy -- probably an "activist."

Someone who likes animals, loves animals, works with animals, makes a career of animals, volunteers with animals, rescues animals from adversity, is not on that basis, either a political/social activist or a believer in the political/philosophical doctrine popularly referred to as "animal rights."

Indeed, most people who work closely with animals (as careers or as part of a serious avocation) and understand the difference between the radical philosophical doctrine of "animal rights" and the mainstream proposition that people ought to treat animals humanely explicitly do not support the doctrine of animal rights. This appears to have something broadly to do with actually hands-on mastery of skills and knowledge about specific kinds of animals interfacing with an appreciation of what repercussions a gormless equivalency would have on those animals' actual lives. In other words, animal experts for the most part reject (the popular notion of) animal rights because they like animals too much and understand them too well to abandon them to the enthusiasms of knowledge-free activists who are in love with their own notions about what is good for animals.

This guy -- not an "activist"

Environmentalism -- even when the environmentalist is absolutely an activist, and is trying to do things like protect condors from DDT or wolves from Sarah Palin in a Piper Cub -- is not "animal rights." Aldo Leopold hunted his whole damned life, before and after the revelation of the fierce green fire.

A daft looney who makes her tiny dog wear tafetta dresses, insists that a clinically insane Capuchin monkey that has been ripped from his real mother's breast is her "son," or lives holed up with 80 cats (in squalor or not) is not an animal rights activist. She's just a daft looney who finds animals to be convenient as well as helpless to avoid her deranged projections.

Here's a partial list of animal-related professions and, shall we say, avocations, whose practitioners are typically not "animal rights activists," despite journalists' proclamations to the contrary:

Veterinarian -- not an animal rights activist
Horse lover -- not an animal rights activist
Search and rescue dog handler -- not an animal rights activist
Cat-show hobbyist -- not an animal rights activist
Zookeeper -- not an animal rights activist
Breed rescue volunteer -- not an animal rights activist
Humane enforcement officer -- not an animal rights activist
Wildlife rehabilitator -- not an animal rights activist
Dog trainer -- not an animal rights activist
Prosecuting attorney -- not an animal rights activist
Doting pet owner -- not an animal rights activist
Government kennel inspector -- not an animal rights activist
Neighbor who complains because you are beating your cat -- not an animal rights activist
Animal shelter employee -- not an animal rights activist
Forest ranger -- not an animal rights activist

Are you getting this down in your little reporter notebook? Too many to remember? Let me make it easier for you:

Stop calling everyone who works with animals or tries to make the world better for them an animal rights activist. Because it pisses us off.

Unless someone tells you (you can ask)* that he is an animal rights activist, he probably isn't.

Even if he does tell you that this is what he is, you should follow up with two lines of inquiry:

1) Does this person engage in sustained activism -- political or social conduct that is more than ordinarily frequent, vigorous, and intense -- in order to advance...

2) ... the notion of legal, political, and social equivalency of the interests of non-human animals relative to those of members of homo sapiens?

Unless you can answer yes and yes upon exploring those two questions, cool it with the "animal rights activist."

You should probably use a grain of salt when anyone in the entertainment industry or the Why-the-hell-is-this-idiot-famous industry gets naked on a PeTA billboard. Activist? Maybe. Whore? Definitely. Career in need of a boost? Ding ding ding ding ding ... The same whore is going to order medallions of veal for dinner tonight and will be sporting a baby panda-skin hoodie the first time the "It" designer throws one at her.

I'm not going to get into further details here. I'm not going to explain that animal "rights" is a misnomer when applied to this political/philosophical camp, because the doctrine is actually a form of unreformed radical Utilitarianism that rejects the notion of rights for anyone and substitutes a pleasure/pain calculus that does not respect individual boundaries. I'm not going to give you a condensed history of the animal welfare movement or explain the difference. I'm not going to dust off my political philosopher hat and explore what a rights-based construct of our obligations towards non-human animals might entail. (It would probably be a Rawlsian/Kantian framework, with some touchiness in the hard details.) I'm not going to lay out all the reasons why PeTA is not, in fact, an organization with any expertise about animals or a sliver of moral standing to speak for them,** or why veganism is not the same thing as eating while mindful of one's environmental impact or effect on animal welfare. I'm not going to expose HSUS and ASPCA and Best Friends Animal Sanctuary as unprincipled fund-raising mills that snatch food from the mouths of puppies and kittens in animal shelters nationwide.

I'm not even going to promise to find the next "journalist" who invokes "Fluffy and Fido" in his next pet-related article and beat him until his liver turns black.

Another day, another savage mauling. For today, just knock it the hell off with the "animal rights activist."


* Our former neighbor Larry actually introduced himself that way. Swear to Dog, his first words to us when we moved in to Baldwin were, "Hi, I'm Larry, I'm an animal rights activist."

Seriously, how does one respond to that?

He was walking his nice little shepherd mix, Duchess, at the time. Duchess was wearing an improperly-fitted chain collar that Larry didn't know how to use, so it was a true "choke collar." And remained so. Poor Duchess. PeTA didn't approve of training her. She never got off that leash.

** And thus, why any reporter who quotes PeTA about any animal welfare issue is a lazy sack of shite who should have his space-bar thumbs cut off and fed to the ferrets.