Friday, May 05, 2006

Dogging It

Out walking for work the other day, a car drove by, happily not going too fast. There were two large dogs in the back seat, and a big Husky in the front passenger (natch) seat. The Husky, for reasons known only to dimwitted dogs everywhere, decided that right then would be an excellent time to jump from the car. Not another dog in sight, and not even any people that might be of interest.

Having seen another dog get run down a couple of months before, I of course began to freak. Lucky, though, the car wasn't going fast, and luckier still, there were no other cars nearby. The dog hit the road hard, though.

Worse yet, the dog was tied to a rope. For a moment, however, everything looked good, since it appeared that the rope was either not tied to anything inside the car, or else there was plenty of rope. Miss Swifty McBraincramp, though, the driver, apparently felt that this was a good time to grab in the rope, rather than, say, stop the car first. And so she ran over the dog's hind right foot before coming to a stop.

I ran over to the car and the dog, followed by an older couple who had been walking behind me. Strangely, a good 30 seconds after all of this had happened, the driver was still inside the car. I called in and told her to come out and take care of the dog, and she told me she couldn't; she was busy trying to tie up the dog, and had worked out a way to tie it to the gear shift, which would have been absolutely hilarious if the dog had managed to put the still-running car into gear.

I offered to take the rope, and after briefly grabbing it inside the car (where the other two big dogs let me know their displeasure with this arrangement) grabbed it outside. And so she exited the car and proceeded to give the dog major grief. "You dumb shit! You stupid f***ing dog!" And on and on.

"Not the dog's fault, lady!" I told her. You're the one driving around with the window down all the way and a dog that hasn't been trained." After this, the exchange very quickly degenerated into plenty of name-calling on her part and calm (believe it or not) reaction on mine. I was called any variety of names revolving around the f-bomb and was told to mind my own f***ing business when I asked if she was taking the dog to the vet. At this point the other woman told her that this had become out business, thank you very much, which brought more f-bombs. She tossed the dog into the car and drove off (not in the direction of any known vet), one of the backseat dogs leaning way out its window.

I had taken her licence plate number, and called bylaw enforcement. Today they followed up with me, told me that the woman was distraught, that she had taken the dog to the vet and that it was OK, and that she said her reaction was all our fault for accusing her right from the beginning.

It takes a special type of person to lash out like that when they've done something wrong, I think. Embarassed about being stupid, the best they can do is blame everyone else. Nice.

It makes me shudder to think of someone like this having children. If she has an unrestrained dog in the front seat with the window wide open, what are the chances she'd put a child in a car seat -- a properly secured car seat, in the back -- or not leave a child alone in a closed vehicle on a hot day while she pops into the grocery store for a few things?

She's lucky I wasn't there. I probably would have hauled her out of the open window and run over her foot. Accidentally.
If this wasn't a true story, it would be absolutely hilarious.

I.e., I'm sad the dog got hurt and that such a stupid person isn't locked up somewhere in a padded cell.

When these kind of people do have kids -- and unfortunately, that is the one thing they seem to be good at -- they're the ones who try to get the teachers fired for enforcing no-cheating rules and giving actual grades.

And when their horrible brat gets suspended from school, they buy them new video games so that they won't get bored at home.
As an experienced dog trainer, I'd never try to talk someone into owning a dog. (In many ways, dogs are even more of a responsibility than children, given that children are soon able to ask for what they want or need, get their own drinks of water, prepare their own snacks and eventually their meals, entertain themselves, and use the bathroom on their own. You'll always have to provide these things for your dog, for the rest of its natural life.)

But, I do find that people who have dogs, and don't have well-mannered dogs, are demonstrating they'll likely have poorly behaved kids, too. I've seen several examples that tend to support my theory.

From my experience, the best, most effective, dog owners (i.e. those who've managed to raise good dogs, and are respectful of others in the community) invariably go on to have really great kids.

Personally, I find almost no difference in the skill set required to properly raise a child to age one or so, and raising a dog. After that, the principles are the same, even if the lessons are different. Reward good behavior. Ignore or redirect undesirable behavior. Be consistent. Be fair. Love and respect your dog/child.
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