Monday, June 28, 2010

DOG WALKING- Good ownership or Cruelty?

I recently got into an argument over the issue of walking my dog. I have a "border-aussie", a Border collie-australian shepherd mix we bought from a shelter. I don't use the term "rescue" because I wasn't out to save any dog, I was saving money by getting an unwanted dog, instead of one with "papers".
Turns out, I got a great deal. My dog, now a year old, is incredibly smart. And very good with my kids. The idiots at the shelter thought she was blind (see "ghost eyes" and australian shepherds) and deaf. She may have hearing loss in one ear, but she responds to commands. She loves going outside and has killed one naughty rabbit so far. My only complaint about this dog in fact, is that she follows me around everywhere, chews/slobbers on me all the time and is otherwise a canine groupie. And I'm told I should be grateful for all that attention.
Anyways, I bought the dog because the wife and kids wanted a little pampered furball to play with. I wanted a dog to scare away all the varmints that keep coming onto my property from the former-farm and wooded area behind us (neighborhood in front of us, wild area behind us). We get coons and possums that root in the trash making a horrible mess on my carport. We get squirrels that chew holes in the plastic lids of the garbage cans. We get birds crapping everywhere. We get rabbits that killed my arbor day tree last year by gnawing the leaves off. We see deer and foxes prowling outside our backfence. And we get feral wild cats crapping in our flower beds.
Since the neighbor to my left had three dogs for ten years that barked nonstop, and the people across the street had multiple barking dogs, I didn't think there'd be any problem with getting a dog myself. But now, almost a year later, one of my neighbors doesn't like my dog barking.
The dog behavior websites offer up some strange ideas for quieting my dog. For one, they all insist she's bored. Funny how when I look outside, I see her barking at birds, squirrels or cats, and that she quits when they go away. Sounds "territorial" to me.
The dog sites further claim that I should "crate" my dog all day, so the neighbors don't have to hear her barking. Crating is where you lock your dog in a cage that's barely big enough for them to turn around in (it's small to make them feel safe). Kinda of like a doggy prison. Then you hire a dog walker to come over three times daily to let your dog out to stretch it's legs.
Can you imagine if people treated their children that way? I'm no animal rights nut- I firmly believe dogs are property and not sentient beings. But lock them in a little cage all day? That's crazy.
When I was a kid, dogs spent all day in the yard. They had dog houses and shade trees. They didn't have toys. They had sticks, and any occasional wildlife that wandered into range. Farm dogs had it even better, wandering around wherever they damn well pleased, and maybe coming home for dinner.
The dog websites also advocate dog walking. Again, I have to look to my childhood. Walking the dog was what you did when you lived in an apartment or didn't have a fenced-in backyard. You took your dog outside, maybe on a leash, so it could crap and stretch it's legs. If you had a yard, you let it do it's own thing when it wanted. When I proposed this theory on one site, pointing out that wolves and coyotes don't get taken for walks and seem to do just fine, I was told that they get to roam miles and miles.
Hey, my collie runs circles around the yard. She ain't sittin' in one spot all day long.
Again, I have to compare this to kids. Primarily because it always irritates me when animal nuts go on and on about rescuing dogs but never work to feed or clothe children. I don't walk my kids. Oh, sure, I take them to the store and make them walk. I take them to the zoo and walk them around or sometimes take them to a park. But I don't walk around the neighborhood like a busy-body, dragging my kids with me. They have a yard they can play in- with a swing even. Not to mention, they'd rather be inside watching Spongebob or playing video games. Or reading a book.
Is it cruel I don't take my kids for walks? Maybe if I did, they'd be too tired to misbehave. That's one theory behind dog-walking. A tired dog is a good dog.
How can people who think their dogs are more important than people treat them so poorly? Locking them in solitary confinement all day, then dragging them around on a leash in the evening? How is it not cruelty to wear a dog out so that it is incapable of playing? Not feeding them produces the same results, and it's considered cruel.
Moreover, I want someone to explain to me how "letting" my dog bark is rude to my neighbors. I have to listen to kids yelling and birds singing. How rude. I have to listen to loud music from my neighbors' guests. How rude. If only there was some ultrasonic device I could hang outside my house, disguised as a bird house or some other innocuous-looking object, that would emit painful auditory pulses when my neighbors or the birds were being rude. I mean, they make them like that for dogs, so why not people?
I guess to be a "good dog owner" I need to lock my dog in a hamster cage, all day long, then drag her by the throat around the neighborhood, keeping her muzzeled to prevent her noise-making, while bombarding her ears with an ultrasonic dog whistle. 
Yeah, that's humane.

Friday, June 11, 2010

It's that time of year again, when Dad's get a special holiday all their own. I used to complain that Father's Day was a joke compared to Mother's Day- hidden on the back pages of newspapers, instead of plastered all over every piece of media known to man. But we dads have progressed a little.

Don't get me wrong- Mother's Day is still made much more of a fuss than Father's Day. I know "your mother carried you for nine months!". Well, my wife carried each of our kids for nine months, conveniently packed around her middle. What with fluids and all, I'm sure that was easily an extra 35 pounds. My 5 year old is now close to 60 pounds. And I have to carry her gigantic frame up the stairs almost daily when she falls asleep watching TV in the basement. When she was 2 or 3, I also carried her, and her older sister before her, around all the time. My back has suffered far more from the weight of the kids than my wife's ever did.

And what about the future? How many people call their mom up to fix their car, or do some odd job around the house? Nope, it's the dads that are Mr. Handyman-for-Life.

This year in particular, Father's Day is taking a hit- I saw a sales flyer for "Dads and Grads Day". Moms are supposed to shell out money for Dads and their kids who just graduated. WTF?!

If I weren't a dad, this kind of thing wouldn't bother me. My own dad was a humongous asshole far more interested in himself than me. But I am a dad, and I bust my ass for my kids on a daily basis. I don't really want to sit through hours and hours of Spongebob and iCarly every day. I shouldn't know the names of all the characters on "Wizards of Waverly Place". Nor should I know that Barbie is made in China, and which of her shoes came with which outfit. But I sacrifice for my kids, precisely because I want to be a good dad. So I really think I've earned a special day.

And I'm not the only one. There are a lot of dads out there that could use a heartfelt thanks- and not some stupid tie, or moronic grilling apron. Ever get clothes for Christmas? Not a good feeling. You know you wanted toys. Don't do the same to your dad- get him something he likes, that he will enjoy, that shows you spent a little frickin' time on it. Gift cards are for chicks. Dads don't like to shop.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

THOR'S DAY RANT: Land of the Free?

Freedom is what they say so many soldiers died for. Freedom, or Liberty, is what the Founding Fathers wanted so desperately to obtain from England. But is this really a free country?
I read a very disturbing article today that sounded like something right out of a communist nation: it's illegal to videorecord police officers on duty in 12 states.
When it becomes a crime to report a crime, you know things are screwed up. As critics of these police-protection laws say, if you could record non-police in a public area, why can't you record the police?
This is a dangerous trend, and a tremendos loss of freedom. Are we really a land of the free?
I suppose for all the illegal immigrants coming in, it is a land of the free. Free healthcare, free schooling for their kids. Tax-free wages. But what about the rest of us? What freedoms do we enjoy in the United States that aren't enjoyed elsewhere in the world?
People here like to declare "America: Love it or Leave it." But is it really that simple? What if your name got put on a no-fly list? Guess you won't be flying out. Can't afford a license for your boat? Guess you won't be sailing out. Can't afford an ID card, guess you can't walk out (you need an ID to enter Canada or Mexico). Could you swim out? Would it be possible to brave the coastal waters of the United States? The Coast Guard would probably stop you if you tried, because very few people can swim a frickin' ocean.
So you're stuck in the land of the free. What can you do here you can't anywhere else?
Can you own a home? If you get approved for a loan. Or maybe inherit a bunch of money. Or save your money for years and years and then pay cash. Those are some big "ifs".
Can you drive a car? Assuming you could afford one, that is. Well, you can drive a car- if you register it, get licensed, and follow the rules. Driving a car "is a privilege, not a right" they like to tell you in Driver's Education.
Rights? There's the bill of rights- part of our constitution. Like the Freedom of Speech, the Right to Assemble, or Right to Bear Arms. Oh, wait, that Arms-thing only applies to militias. Or you have to have a permit if you leave your private property in some states. Assembly? Well, I suppose you can always meet your pals at the mall- assuming no curfew has been established due to some emergency. But if you want to protest, you have to have a permit. Freedom of Speech? You can talk to yourself as much as you like, but try posting something on the internet, or shouting out in public, and there are laws that limit what you can and can't say.
Are you free to die? Maybe not. Congress and Nobama recently passed a Healthcare Act requiring you to have medical insurance (not free insurance- no, it's a mandate you buy insurance). That sounds to me like the government can force you to stay alive, hooked to machines, getting medicines pumped into you. Then again, maybe it's the Freedom to Live they don't like- their National Healthcare could easily result in involuntary cessation of treatments. Against your will.
So what is free? Well, we're sure free to suffer at the hands of our new, hopey-changey, socialist government. No, wait, we're not. That would imply we have a choice. The devilcrats don't make any bones about it- you will comply, you will obey.
Are we Free to vote? We sure are. It's the one freedom that we still do have- as do many oppressed peoples around the world. Will this freedom be exercised? Will we exorcise ourselves of the blight of socialism this November? Our will we continue to let our liberties erode away?