Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Thursday, November 5, 2009
[Definition: Anthropomorphism is ascribing human characteristics to non-humans, including animals, plants, ideas, phenomena, material states, objects, or abstract concepts].
Oh, I know we all love James Herriot’s wonderful stories of animals, especially dogs and cats. But here I am talking about the serious responsibilities of dog ownership, not entertainment. Indeed, any dog can bite, but our dogs, Pit Bulls, are, at this time, under extreme scrutiny and we have no choice. Assumption of responsible ownership, for us, is not optional. It is a requirement.
Albeit reluctantly, I will label people who take on Pit Bulls as if they were just like any other dog, well…. morons.
What prompts this, my latest, diatribe, is a post on one of the most respected Pit Bull Forums on the Internet.
I will quote from the person’s post and comment on each statement individually. I will also use “he” as the generic for either a dog or a bitch.
Here we go….
“he seems to want to be in charge”
Seems, want, in charge… these are not within the “vocabulary” of dogs. These are not part of their behavioral repertoire. These are human behaviors, endeavors and feelings. A dog has no idea what something “seems.” Dog sense the world in a binary code. It is either “yes” or “no.” “Good” or “bad,” “warm” or “cold,” etc. Dogs don’t want. Wanting is a human emotion. Dogs NEED or don’t need.
Dogs are not in charge or not not in charge. Dogs are either an alpha or not. In a human environment, anybody who allows a dog to be the alpha is asking for trouble. What that person will have is an insecure, unprotected, anxious, and unpredictable animal. If you love your dog, I mean really love him, you owe it to him to be the alpha. An absolute alpha, all the time, without hesitation, with total commitment, with all your energy, with all your intelligence, with all your skills and without hesitation. I guess I used "without hesitation" twice... I must mean it.
“when he's tired will he let [sic!] the other dog play with something”
Dogs don’t let. We, the humans let. Dogs take or not take. But dogs are not allowed to “make decisions.” They can’t. They have no concept of past, present, and future. They live in the present. They have no foreboding “feelings” or judgment of consequences. If you are a good trainer you can condition a dog to do what YOU want or decide. Dogs who are allowed to make choices will be totally befuddled because they will have no reference points. A dog without leadership will be like a boat without a rudder… aimless, purposeless, anxious, afraid, “neurotic” (by our standards).
“she is not the push over she was at first”
Here is another example of endowing a dog with human characteristics. So, the dog was a pushover, now she is not. What happened? Did the dog take some assertiveness classes? Maybe she took an EST seminar…
[Definition: EST = Erhard Seminars Training, an organization founded by Werner H. Erhard, offered a two-weekend (60-hour) course known officially as 'The est Standard Training.' The purpose of est was to allow participants to achieve, in a very brief time, a sense of personal transformation and enhanced power. The est course was offered from late 1971 to late 1984. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erhard_Seminars_Training]
Puleeze… what the dogs did, is work it out. They worked out who is where in the pecking order. Since the owner is clearly not “in charge” we don’t know whether the once-pushover dog has become an alpha or just acting out her insecurity. Which one would you prefer? That was a sneaky catch question, because the answer, of course, is neither.
“she has started to snap at him when she's on the couch”
Excuse me? Started? From the content of the post we can surmise that snapping is an ongoing behavior. Snapping is either allowed or not allowed by the alpha, which should be the owner. It it’s allowed, then don’t bitch (with due respect to all the fine female dogs out there). If it’s not allowed, then it didn’t start, because it was finished as soon as it was exhibited. Besides, a secure, calm, and assertive dog (to use Cesar Millan’s terminology) does NOT snap. Do you know why? Because 1) she doesn’t have to; and 2) is not allowed.
“she used to not do this and has just recently started acting jealous”
Let’s forget for a second that dogs do not have emotions, certainly not complex ones. So, appealing to the common psychologist in all of us, what type of person is jealous? What type of person is possessive or controlling? Simple: a person who is insecure, a person who wants to control because he has none. The parallel “translation” to a dog’s world is obvious.
“we would just put him in his crate if he got too aggressive”
“we have started putting her in her crate when she does it now” (My note: “it” being something bad – like snapping at the other dog)
I see. So now we take the crate, which is supposed to be the dog’s “home,” his secure place, and we made it a punishing place. Way to go! That dog sure will love going “home.” Not!
“leads to a scene since she will just lay (sic!) down and roll over and refuse to get up”
How’s that? Scene? Refuse? Since when do dogs make decisions? You mean that obedience is voluntary? Isn’t that an oxymoron?
“it sounds like I have a lot of problems with them and I guess I do but its not constantly”
“we really do enjoy each other most of the time”
In operant conditioning, a variable ratio reinforcement schedule is one of the hardest to extinguish… Obviously, the owner tells us not only that “[we] enjoy each other most of the time,” but that some of the time they don’t. As the variable ratio of positive and negative reinforcement goes on, eventually, and I guarantee this, at some point they will NOT enjoy each other MOST of the time. Just like a child, if a dog “gets away” with an undesirable behavior some of the time, he will try for ever, because at any one given time he MAY get away with it. Casino owners know this, hence those 5,000-room hotel/casinos.
To sum it all up, the dog owner who posted the stuff I quoted is a… you guessed it…a moron.
That the person has a dog is already bad enough, but to have TWO and especially Pit Bulls, is awful. Awful for the dogs, for this oblivious person, and for the breed overall. This is the kind of situation that is likely to end up in the headlines and provide further fodder to the gristmill of sensation seeking media morons. I apologize for the mixed metaphor.
I like what Linda R. Blakely, the Director of Raccoon Valley Animal Sanctuary & Rescue has to say:
"The most valuable lesson for me personally is that we should never forget to keep our minds open to what an animal can teach us, not only about their own behavior, but about our own!"
Next up, when I get the time, is the “nothing in life is free” concept of dog handling/training.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
We are a strong fellowship of professional artists who have come together from different areas of the world with one purpose in mind, to help homeless animals through the efforts of our individual creativity. We are a working entity. We have taken on the challenge of painting and creating for a variety of non-profit rescues. We create art in support of homeless animals in their care A percentage of our sales, as determined by the individual artist, is donated to 501(c)3 rescue toward the care of animals in need.
TOTAL RAISED as of June 2009 updated semi-annually: $64,424.40!
I cannot think of a more worthwhile cause to support.
The painting you see above is, of course, of Sándor – my Pitbull. Don’t you love those luminous lemon eyes? To the rihgt I am posting the original photograph that was used by the artist, SM Violano, as her inspiration.
As you may imagine I am delighted to have my faithful, loving, and beautiful companion immortalized.
The painting was created on behalf of Bama Bully Rescue, the Alabama Pitbull organization that I support anyway I can.l
If you like stuff like this, do yourself a favor and visit Art Helping Animals (click on the name) and also Ms. Violano’s Studio site.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Interesting spin. I don’t have to wonder who is racist, now do I? Ditto for who qualifies for idiot.
Last Wednesday (Oct. 1, 2009), The Jay Leno Show, for the second time in a month, managed to “make fun” of Pitbulls. A much maligned and completely misrepresented breed of dog that is being killed at a rate of 1,200,000 per year, is, according to The Jay Leno Show is a fair target for so-called humor. There a millions of owners who have been deeply offended. I understand that Jay Leno had no control over what the stand-up “comedian” said a few weeks ago, but he definitely did bring up the topic with Chris Rock, who proceeded to show his utter ignorance.
I would think that abusing and killing animals are not good subjects for humor in anybody’s book. I think that NBC and Mister Leno will find that this “episode” will be VERY costly to them. The episode in question can be viewed here: http://www.hulu.com/watch/99740/the-jay-leno-show-thu-oct-1-2009
Chris Rock, blithely asks “What did Vick do?” “A dog? A Pitbull is not even a dog.” Nice going, Chris Rock. Thanks for making it easy for me to cross you off the list of comedians to watch.
What did Vick do? Really?
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Switching channels between shows, while working on a Website, I happened to surf through The Jay Leno Show. I am not sure what I expected, since I quit watching the Tonight Show long time ago. I thought that maybe freed from the TS format, he may bring something fresh to television, or, God forbid, even something insightful. It just shows you how delusional I can be sometimes. The stand-up "comedian" Tom Somebody-Or-Other (I instantly blocked his name) was trying to be funny with verbal jabs about his friend who wanted a Pit Bull for a family pet. He thought it was funny to say that his friend is an idiot because the Pit Bull is going to eat his children and, then, compared having a Pit Bull as a pet to having a python snake, since, according to him, all they both want is kill you.
Nice public service, Mr. Leno. Also, thanks, Mr. Leno, your "guest" just made my choice to NOT ever watch your show a cinch.
It's one thing to appear to be a moron. It's a totally different deal to open your mouth and prove it.
If anybody has ever found a more gratifying family pet than an American Pit Bull Terrier I am yet to hear about it.
They are affectionate, smart, loyal, keep you safe.
Treat them right. Don't lie to them."
- Agent Gibbs in "NCIS," Season 6, Episode 18, March 17, 2009.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Other than my personal opinions, this blog may also contain copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owners. I believe that this not-for-profit, educational use on the Web constitutes a fair use of the copyrighted material (as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law). If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
I love football, but football is nothing but entertainment, when it's played at the professional level. Those who will pay their hard-earned dollars to be entertained by a person whom I consider owning a deep character flaw are, in my book, lacking good judgment.
What's-her-name's (the actress/comedienne) statement that dog fighting was "indicative to certain parts of the country,'' was explained away by the liberal media as being quoted out of context and that it was not an excuse for the behavior of a self-indicted criminal. Puleeeze... that's backpedaling of the most transparent kind.
When it's all said and done what remains in my mind are the pictures of these dogs, not Vick throwing for a touch-down.
I will consider a further lowering of this Nation's morals standards, if the men and women who watch football don't vote with their pockets not to iconize a cruel, greedy, and unethical so-called sports figure. Muscles and skills in football we can grow everyday.... moral backbone, not-so easily. I hope that whatever team hires this moron loses a lot of money.
Friday, August 7, 2009
This is for people who are not expert trainers.
An important training target is food-proofing your dog. The target is to have your dog take food ONLY from you or from one of your family members.
The implications for NOT doing this are obvious, including the object lesson of a dog that was taken recently by being offered a hot dog by strangers. Depending where you live, I am sure there will be also situations when poisoned food will be offered for a variety of malicious reasons. I will leave it up to you to conjure up images of such potential situations, including a neighbor who happens to hate your dog or brats who do it out of spite or entertainment.
The premise is that if you teach your dog not to take a variety of foods from anybody but you, the dog will be able to generalize to all foods and to all people. This can become an issue if you leave town and have to leave the dog behind with a friend or in a kennel. But, that is relatively minor issue and can also be trained. My dog is either with one of us or a friend veterinarian who attends to him anyway. Nobody else.
Start by squatting or sitting with your dog, holding his/her leash with your dominant hand (with your thumb through the loop), the other hand grabbing the leash about a foot or a foot and a half away from your dominant hand. The non-dominant hand thus becomes the “leash snapper.” For training I use either a six or five-foot leather leash. Regular collar.
Have a friend or somebody who visits your house frequently throw some desirable food in front of your dog (hot dogs, treats, raw meat, cheese, etc.). The dog natural tendency will be to sniff the food and want to eat it.
As soon as the dog orients toward or sniffs at the food you snap the leash with your non-dominant hand (doesn’t have to be a hard snap, more like setting the hook in a fish’s mouth when fishing with a flexible rod) while saying “NO!” in a low and commanding voice. The snap and the “NO” occur simultaneously. As soon as the dog looks at you, you say “Good dog” or whatever you say in praise to your dog, this time with a higher and kinder voice. You can also frown with the “No” and smile with the “Good dog.” I do.
You will have to do this exercise with a variety of foods over several days. Use different people and also have them throw food over your dog yard’s fence with or without you in the yard. My dog is never alone, but I did the exercise by standing on the deck that is over the dog run. Use food that is normally attractive to your dog.
As usually, what’s critical is consistency and repetition.
I also used method to break fixation on dogs, cats, or anything that grabs Sándor’s attention away from me.
Remember: your dog needs to be trained not to do anything for which: 1) you did not train him; 2) you do not allow; 3) has not earned the privilege. For instance Sándor has to sit in the dining room and wait for me to serve his yogurt in the kitchen. Since cutting up carrots and apples and mixing up several types of kibble takes time, he has to lie down. He can start eating only when I say “OK, you can eat now.” Thus, he earns the right to eat by being patient and by lying down.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
The following are my personal observations about taking on several APBT puppies.
There will be nothing new for people who are knowledgeable about Pit Bulls. In
1. APBTs are not for everyone. Definitely not for a first-time dog owner. Ferraris are not for everyone either. Ownership of an American Pit Bull Terrier demands dedication, a firm hand, willingness to commit to being responsible for every second of every minute, 24/7 of your dog's entire life. If you are a soft-hearted, Pollyanna and just want a dog to sleep with you, forget the Pit Bull. Yes, they are cuddly and many sleep with their human companions. Yes they love people. But they need A LOT of work to be safe, happy, and good companions for you. Also, if you are a cold-hearted bastard and like your dogs chained to a tree in the middle of the yard, don't bother with Pit Bulls. A chained dog CAN get really pissed off and should it ever got loose, I hope they bite you in the ass. If you are cruel to a dog, you will go to Hell, anyway, but I want you punished now, on this Earth.
2. APBTs are NOT guard dogs. Anybody who tells you otherwise is not knowledgeable. If you want a guard dog get one of the following: Fila Brasieliero, Dogo Argentino, Doberman (female), Dogue de Bordeaux, South-African Boerboel, Akita Inu, Rottweiler, Bouvier des Flandres, Cane Corso, Ca de Bou, Belgian Shepherd, Presa Canario, Bullmastiff, Neapolitan Mastiff, Thai Ridgeback, Giant Schnauzer, and Tosa Inu. But if you don’t know or don’t want to learn how to handle these dogs you are looking for a heap of trouble. So, better understand what you are getting into.
3. Minimum requirements:
a. Time – you should be prepared to spend at least 1 hour a day with your dog. Two hours is even better. Time will be spent:
vii. showing affection
This is for EVERY DAY for the life of the dog. After you exercise your dog hard, you have to cool it down by going for a slow walk and then apply a nice massage so the muscles won’t cramp. Your dog should not be exercised right after he gets fed. Need to wait at least 45 minutes. If you exercise him hard, he won’t want to eat right after, either. Err on the safe side – no food just before or just after exercise.
b. Money – you need to be prepared to spend quite a bit of money on training, food, vet bills, collars, leashes, brushes, nail-clippers, exercise equipment, and toys.
You should have at least 3 leashes, preferably 4:
i. one for training (6 ft)
ii. one for walking (5 ft)
iii. one for street walking (3 ft)
iv. one for long-distance work – I use a rock-climbing 50-ft nylon rope
v. retractable leashes are NOT for APBTs – ask me why, if you don’t understand.
Exercise equipment, per sé, is not necessary, but by exercising your dog you will be rewarded with a healthy dog that is also in good mental health and with equipment it will take you less effort than if you do it by running with the dog. If you are a fitness nut, by all means, jogging 5 miles twice a day EVERY day (come rain, snow, or sunshine) will do the trick. I, OTOH, play racquetball, do Yoga, T’ai Chi, ballroom dance, and walk fast for fitness. Other than walking, the dog can’t participate in my other activities. So I have a doggie (carpet mill, non-electric) treadmill, a mini-obstacle course in the backyard, a springpole, and light weight pulling equipment. And, of course, a lot of throw toys.
You won’t be able to buy just any dog toy. APBTs will EAT them. That includes the baddest and hardest Kong toy (the black one). Join Pit Bull discussion fora and see what people's experiences have been with different toys.
Those of us who take our responsibility of owning a Pit Bull seriously know that you can never be sure that your dog won't get into a fight with another dog. This is genetics. With proper training and good control of your dog, you can minimize "accidents." Still, just to cover your obligation to be prepared for all the contingencies of which you are aware, get a break stick. There are many sites that sell them, or you can look up one of the how-to sites and make one yourself. I hope none of us will ever need one, but if your Pit Bull gets hold of another dog, you need to know how to use a break stick. You also need to have practiced breaking up an impromptu dog fight. Below is a link where you can get a good education and buy a good quality break stick. Personally, I would never buy plastic. Mine are nice, slick, tough birch. I have never had to pull one out of my pocket yet, but I never walk with the dog without one. Better safe than sorry.
c. Knowledge – you will have to read as much as possible about the breed; you will have to become knowledgeable about puppies, generally; you will need to know everything about APBT puppies, specifically;
d. You must have a fenced in yard; the fence will have to be substantial, not shorter than 6-ft, preferably 8 ft. The fence will have to be buried at least 12 inches into the ground; privacy fences are ridiculous – don’t even think about containing an APBT with one. You cannot leave the dog by himself because he CAN jump any fence, will even use a tree next to a fence to climb it and jump off to the other side, will dig under, or even figure out how to unlock the gate(s). Depending where you live, leaving the dog alone, you also risk having it stolen. APBTs don’t handle heat well. If the temperature outside is cold, the rule of thumb shouId be simple.: don't leave the dog outside longer than it's comfortable for you in a shirt. Dogs will overheat in hot weather in no time at all and have to be able to come inside if they want to. When you play in the yard have plenty of water available ad lib.
4. Food. This is a huge deal with me. You have to do your homework and understand what a dog’s nutritional requirements are. Dr. Richard Pitcairn is an authority on dog and cat nutrition and his “Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats” is a must read.
Some people go all the way out there to
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
from The New Yorker
February 6, 2006
What pit bulls can teach us about profiling.
by Malcolm Gladwell
I don’t know how I missed this article when I was doing research on the murderous media bias toward “pit bulls.” I use the word murderous on purpose, because I mean it. Media bias, the greedy drive for sensationalism, is directly and indirectly responsible for the death of MILLIONS of animals. But I digress…
This thoughtful article by Malcom Gladwell, published in The New Yorker in 2006, is a terrific analysis of both the harm that stereotyping or profiling can cause and the reason for it. The reason doesn’t surprise me, but I have not seen it explained this explicitly, and for certain not this well connected to the topic of this blog’s rant. Ultimately, generalizations, profiling, and stereotyping are, just like the ban of “pit bulls,” are nothing but prime examples of pure, simple, and expedient laziness.
The subtitle of the article,“What pit bulls can teach us about profiling” ties in perfectly with the author’s implied conclusion: it’s easier to find a patsy and then “dispose” of it then actually to do the work to find the truth. Those media types and those politicians who point fingers at “pit bulls” as the culprits of murderous rampages use the same trick prestidigitators use: misdirection. Unfortunately, they are just as good at fooling the public as magicians are. The main difference is that I am NOT amused. Neither should you be.
Friday, January 2, 2009
I suppose, this should be construed as repentance! A kind of apology, I guess. To my mind, it is a lot too late and too little.
Personally, I will not accept an "apology" from Sports Illustrated. I don't care how many pro-APBT articles they publish or how many naked women they show. I dropped my subscription right after the infamous July 27, 1987 "Pit Bull" cover and never read a single issue since.
They are crass. Don't let them fool you. Even if it seems to serve our and our friends' interests, know them for what they are: repulsive, money-mongering, soulless and mindless media reps.
What am I talking about? For those of you who are too young to remember, the editors at Sports Illustrated lost their minds and created a new Media Monster with that cover. Go to the SI archives to see the cover and judge for yourself.
Look at that cover and understand that given its circulation and ability to influence men, SI has single-handedly STARTED the Pit Bull insanity.
I am not making this up, I promise. I took it from Karen Delise's book "The Pit Bull Placebo" and I agree with her.
Soon after that, news stories began slipping “pitbull” into headlines as shorthand for dangerous dog, even if it was a different breed involved in that particular crime. "Pit bull" entered our everyday lives as an adjective. People would say "I hope you've gotten yourself a pit bull attorney." Yet, when two Florida lawyers used a pit bull in an ad a few years ago, they were reprimanded by the Florida Bar for dragging the profession down to the level of these animals. Then, of course, we all know about the reference to Mrs. Palin as a Pit Bull with lipstick.”
At that time in 1987 it was the Doberman that was the media “darling” for horror stories and most people had no idea what a Pit Bull was, much less the thugs and criminals like Vick. Many will point to that Sports Illustrated July 27,1987 issue's arrival as the pivotal moment when the bad guys of the world decided they had to get their hands on these bad ass, scary looking dogs that everyone seemed to fear. The Pit Bull became the status symbol for a life-style that you and I can't even attempt to understand. We are not just talking gangs, drug-dealers, ghetto creeps - we are talking cruelty not elevated to this level since Hitler's Germany. I should have stayed from the comparison (see Godwin’s Law in your Wikipedia), but it’s the only one that fits the situation. Both are responsible for millions of deaths. [Here I was quoting almost verbatim BadRap.Org's Blog - credit goes where credit is due].
Yes, I loved the new SI article, but I also KNOW that the only reason it was written and published is because it's fashionable to hate Vick and the newly found care for Pit Bulls sells copy. On the coat-tails of myriad of programs on dogs (including the very real and effective "Dog Town"), SI just goes with the money flow.
J'accuse Sports Illustrated of indirectly causing the murder of TENS OF MILLIONS of Pit Bulls.
I fervently hope that their specific Hell is millions of Pygocentrus nattereri (the most ferocious piranhas known) biting and hanging on their collective executive asses in perpetuity. I know this is not very Christian of me, but this is how I feel and I will never change my mind about this particular topic.
At the same time I pray that THIS article and cover will propagate as much of a wave as the first ones did, 'cept in the opposite direction. We can only hope that this is a new beginning.