21 July 2010

Dogs and cleaning up

I am a dog owner. My animal is 90-odd pounds of Lab/Shepherd/Chow mix. He creates nothing but fur in his wake. Bullwinkle (the name is a post in and of itself) is the near-perfect example of a calm, submissive dog. He walks at heel, stands quietly while other dogs examine his smell, and steps away if one tries to nip, snap or otherwise become even slightly aggressive. Humans excite him somewhat, because he believes all humans were put here to pay attention to him. But this is limited to enthusiastic greetings with no jumping, pawing or licking. Just a lot of nose, eyes and ears bouncing around. And he calms down quickly.

(this is the Bullwinkle mutt)
I noticed a Letter to the Editor (scroll down to "Some Pet Owners Can't Always Pick Up") in the Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper on July 11, 2010 where a dog owner claimed to be unable to clean up after his dog because of the dog's size and the owner's inability to control the dog without using two hands, plus he claimed he could not carry the necessary equipment to clean up after his 200+ pound animal.

This is crap. Nonsense like this ticks me off. I clean up after my dog every time we go for a walk. So I fired off a response. Here's my take on the situation:
Editor, Times-Dispatch

   I must take umbrage at Robert R. Black's assertion that he should not have to clean up after his dog because he one, cannot control the dog satisfactorily and needs to "avert bloody warfare", and two, he is unable to carry the necessary tools to make such a cleanup possible. ("Some Pet Owners Can't Always Pick Up", RTD, July 11, 2010, Letters to the Editor)
   To the first point: If Mr. Black is unable to control his dog in a manner that avoids dogfighting, then I suggest that he invest in training for himself and his animal so that he can learn that controlling a pet, whether a 2-pound teacup chihuahua or a 210-pound mastiff is in the mind of the owner and the animal, not in the muscles of said animal. If he is unable to avoid aggressive behavior in his pet no matter what another animal is doing, then he should not allow that animal to be in public. He could cross the street, or otherwise divert his pet from an approaching animal that was behaving aggressively towards him. An aggressive dog can be very dangerous, and I question whether he should be in public at all with a dog he cannot physically control that could hurt another animal - what if a small terrier or toy poodle began barking or just rushed at this massive animal to say "hello"? A dog doesn't recognize size in an opponent, it only recognizes mental intent and immediate behavior.
   To the second point: Large dogs are working dogs. If Mr. Black is unable to control his dog without using two hands and presumably a much smarter mind, then perhaps he should invest in a doggie backpack, and have the dog carry the tools himself. I can't see where a couple of plastic bags (and perhaps a pair of latex gloves) could possibly weigh that much, or be all that bulky. After cleanup, the dog can carry his own waste to a suitable disposal site.
   I resent that I should have to watch out for the waste left behind by Mr. Black's dogs because he thinks loving them is reason enough to not perform a pet owner's duty to clean up after the pet in public places. Also, love is a part of controlling aggression, and an aggressive animal remains in danger at all times of hurting someone or some other animal - so that's not love, that's neglect!

I think all dogs deserve the best care available. Part of that is teaching them that they are part of a pack that should optimally consist of humans at the alpha positions, and that include dogs as submissive members of the pack. If you can't control your dog with your mind rather than your arms, you're not doing it right!