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Dog Owning as Religion

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I’ve been thinking about this all day, of and on.

 

Something I see amongst “dog people” a lot is a tendency to have a set way of viewing things having to do with dogs that they feel other people should agree with in order to be considered “good dog owners.”

 

If I’m at the waiting room at the vet’s and a man comes in with an ordinary, healthy-seeming dog with a few burrs in its coat and a piece of binder-twine for a leash, I think nothing of it, even though I have a dog that is (usually) squeaky-clean, and wears a fancy leather collar with a brass plate and a leash to match. But I've seen others cast dark looks at such people as if they were Hannibal Lector incarnate.

 

Meanwhile, the person next to me is knitting her brows at me because in addition to the fancy leather collar, my dog is also sporting a choke-chain. (She panics easily and I know she can’t slip a choke and go careening out in front of a bus.)

 

I’m sure you’ve experienced it – the dog owner you meet while you are out walking your dog who discovers that you feed raw, or you feed kibble, or you use corrections while training, or do or don’t let your dog sleep on the bed. They launch into an impassioned diatribe about how you really must change your dog’s food, training, sleeping arrangements, collar or grooming tools. Why don’t you go running every day with your dog?, why is your puppy not spayed/neutered yet?, why is your dog not wearing a raincoat?

 

Of course people have opinions about everything. But dog owners, at least the one’s I run into around here, (The San Francisco bay area) seem to carry it to fetish proportions. I have my own opinions about dogs too – especially my dog. But I don’t feel that everyone needs to share it. You think Greyhounds should only wear martingale collars or that crating a dog is bad? Fine. If you ask my opinion on the subject I’ll give it. If you disagree with it, that’s your prerogative. But please don’t imagine that I want the ten dollar lecture about how I’m going to hell because I don’t permit my dog to climb up the front of you when you stand there making smooching sounds at her.

 

Maybe it’s just me. I don’t like proselytizers or missionaries. They irritate me. I’m pretty free with my opinions, especially when someone asks for them. But I don’t for one minute think that they are one size fits all.

 

I suppose that those of you who dwell in the country don’t run into this as much as the dog-park and sidewalk-cruising urban dog-owning set. But what do you all think about it, and how do you handle the phenomenon of the dog-person-with-the-fervently-held-agenda-that-must-convert-you?

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I smile and say, "Oh, I used to think that was the only way, too."

People usually furrow their brow, as the idea that they may actually be behind, rather than ahead, of me on the Dog Knowledge Scale sets in. Makes them start to question their own beliefs instead of mine. ;)

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I smile and say, "Oh, I used to think that was the only way, too."

People usually furrow their brow, as the idea that they may actually be behind, rather than ahead, of me on the Dog Knowledge Scale sets in. Makes them start to question their own beliefs instead of mine. ;)

 

I like it!

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Interesting question... I can certainly say I've been on both sides of this, receiving the "What? She's not spayed?!" and "You BOUGHT that dog instead of doing rescue?!" comments more times than I care to count. And now that you mention it, I was on the other side of the coin just yesterday, when I was following someone down the highway whose yellow lab was half way out the back window and barking like crazy, all I could think was "How can those people let him do that?!" Living out in the country now too allows me to grumble things like "I can't believe they just let their dogs stay out and loose like that..." meaning the people down the road with black labs that run out in front of cars, one who has clearly been hit once or twice before.

 

I can say I've been there before. It wasn't until I came to college that my thought process changed from believing that dogs are supposed to live outside and that's final... now I have two dogs and a cat living in the house with all the toys and spoilings they can suffer.

 

It takes all sorts in this world... I know the world is like this when it comes to children as well and everybody knows exactly what's best and how right they are. I suppose it's like that in any realm of society for that matter...

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Interesting way to look at it. I live about 50 miles north of you, Geonni. This area is known for people Being Entitled To Their Opinions. In my mind, that doesn't mean that I have to listen to them.

 

And, I take the same approach to religious/spiritual beliefs as I do to dog-related discussuions. I smile and change the subject.

 

When I want an opinion, I seek out experts I trust. Otherwise, it's 'Really? That's interesting!' and I'm off to another topic.

 

I used to be one of the proselytizers, about any number of things. Then I realized I don't like to be preached at, so I stopped preaching at others.

 

Great discussion!

 

Ruth

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I smile and say, "Oh, I used to think that was the only way, too."

People usually furrow their brow, as the idea that they may actually be behind, rather than ahead, of me on the Dog Knowledge Scale sets in. Makes them start to question their own beliefs instead of mine. ;)

 

Yes, I double like this. Now if only I can remember what to say at the right moment.

 

Jovi

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Interesting question... I can certainly say I've been on both sides of this, receiving the "What? She's not spayed?!" and "You BOUGHT that dog instead of doing rescue?!" comments more times than I care to count.

 

Ayup.

 

And although I seldom utilize dog parks, theres one in my town with some agility type equipment, so I decided to scope it out. At the front gate there is a big sign that says "no intact male dogs allowed," along with information about how responsible owners s/n their pets.

 

Because nowadays unless you have de-sexed your dog, you are irresponsible and the local facilities aren't open to you.

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Interesting way to look at it. I live about 50 miles north of you, Geonni. This area is known for people Being Entitled To Their Opinions. In my mind, that doesn't mean that I have to listen to them.

 

And, I take the same approach to religious/spiritual beliefs as I do to dog-related discussuions. I smile and change the subject.

 

When I want an opinion, I seek out experts I trust. Otherwise, it's 'Really? That's interesting!' and I'm off to another topic.

 

I used to be one of the proselytizers, about any number of things. Then I realized I don't like to be preached at, so I stopped preaching at others.

 

Great discussion!

 

Ruth

Oh boy… A couple of years ago I lived outside of Sebastopol and every time the dog went along to the feed store for duck food there was always at least one person with decided opinions to deal with. They would catch sight of my unleashed dog, (a Lurcher, standing calmly at heel) the eyes would narrow, and you could practically hear the inventory being assembled. This would take about 40 seconds to compile and then the tiny tendrils of smoke would begin to escape from her ears (it was always a her) and the rant would begin…

 

That’s a Greyhound. It should never be off-leash.

That’s a Greyhound it should only wear a martingale collar.

That’s a Greyhound, it will kill your ducks.

And then it was on to less breed-specific rants.

 

I learned to make excellent my escape while the silent compilation of my transgressions was in progress.

 

Now that I live in the city with a Border Collie the rants I get most often are:

 

That’s not a Border Collie, it’s a mix.

You shouldn’t have one of those; they need to run free in the country.

Oh, a Border Collie. They’re all crazy you know.

You have to do agility to keep her head from exploding.

She’s shy. Do you hit her?

 

Sheesh

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I don’t like proselytizers or missionaries. They irritate me. I’m pretty free with my opinions, especially when someone asks for them. But I don’t for one minute think that they are one size fits all.

 

Yep!

 

Then I realized I don't like to be preached at, so I stopped preaching at others.

 

And that's a tough habit to break.

 

@Laura E,

I love your comeback. Like Jovi, the trick for me will be remembering to use it when in that situation!

 

J.

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Geonni, was the feed store Frizelle Enos? Sebastopol has some characters, that's for sure.

 

Ruth

That was one of them. It was a trip...

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I guess I've been fortunate to not have too many comments.

 

At least from sober people. A month or so ago I was eating at a pizzeria, outside on the sidewalk with my 2 BCs tied up next to me, and a drunk started to untie his bike from the same low rail that my dogs were tied to. As is typical, they enthusiastically greeted him.

 

"They sure are happy to see me. What does that say about you?" the young man slurred.

 

I said: "It says I raise dogs to be friendly towards people. Would you rather they were vicious brutes?"

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My friends with children smile when I talk about this subject, and point out that it's a million times worse among the child-raising crowds.

 

That great movie, "Away We Go," and the epic scene in which John Krasinsky wheels the stroller into Maggie Gyllenhaal's house. Aiiee! I don't even have kids, and I was ROFL.

 

Mary

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I get this a lot with my BC too. And it really bugs me! I also agree that its probably a lotworse with horse people and new parents from what I've seen. But it really gets on my nerves when someone does this. And just to mention a few things I've been told by random people...

"You shouldn't play tug of war with your dog, he'll become aggressive"

"You shouldn't let your dog walk in front of you"

"Your dog needs to live on a farm"

"You should ONLY use treats made for dogs or else he will beg"

"You shouldn't have to use treats to train a dog"

"Dogs can't eat raw food because they are domestic now and can only eat kibble"

"Why does your dog need a bed time?" (Lol)

And many more...

I remember last summer, when he was just a puppy and I had took him out with me and a few of my friends to a dog-friendly local beach/park. There is an outdoors sort of ice cream shop next to it. They also were selling those dog ice creams called frosty paws. So of course I couldn't resist buying him some. Well there was a huge line in front of the shop. Later on people would come up to see him and say things like "Oh he shouldn't be having ice cream, blah blah blah" followed by "Oh he's a border collie, they are a lot to handle and they need this, this and this you know" I guess they weren't aware the ice cream was made for dogs and assumed I knew nothing about the breed because I look too young. Or maybe they wanted to show off what they knew. But...

nothing is as bad as when I took Oliver to his first vet visit. I was in the waiting room and a lady came across the room to sit right beside me. Asked a few questions about Oliver, and then started to tell me what a "big responsibility" a dog was. Er...

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Dear Doggers,

The men's room at Washington Square Park in Greenwich village at noon isn't the best dog venue but I had the Mr & Mrs with me for the nearby dog park and, er well, call of nature . . . Lots of people who push their worldly possessions in shopping carts, others who find inspiration in chemicals. Three rooms: antechamber, urinary and poopery. I left the dogs on a downstay in the antechamber and proceeded to the urinary. Didn't want to investigate the poopery which was being employed for other purposes.

 

I came out as a drunk did a double take at my dogs. "Well," he said, "And how the Hell are yuh!!!?

 

Donald McCaig

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I smile and say, "Oh, I used to think that was the only way, too."

People usually furrow their brow, as the idea that they may actually be behind, rather than ahead, of me on the Dog Knowledge Scale sets in. Makes them start to question their own beliefs instead of mine. ;)

 

:::Taking notes:::

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I always use a binder twine leash when I need one.

 

No one comments about this.

 

 

 

But I have had a few comments about Shuan the Sheep Lanyard.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

Great one Sheepdogging Geezer!

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I also love the "I used to think that way, too" reply.

 

I use it most often when people (including my vet)have said to me, upon seeing my tri blue merle foster dog, Kelso, "Oh that's definitely not a purebred border collie, not with that coloration. Must be Aussie".

D'Elle

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I use it most often when people (including my vet)have said to me, upon seeing my tri blue merle foster dog, Kelso, "Oh that's definitely not a purebred border collie, not with that coloration. Must be Aussie".

D'Elle

My little red-tri Taff half ear got that too. I was told many times that border collies don't come in that colour and that he was probably a sheltie or mini-aussie.

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My little red-tri Taff half ear got that too. I was told many times that border collies don't come in that colour and that he was probably a sheltie or mini-aussie.

 

Got the same with Seeka. Now that her tail has been "Aussie-ized" due to paralysis, I bet she gets it in spades.

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The tail thing is another one that annoys me.

 

I used to live deep in the country in central Oregon, where there are sheep and cattle, and sheep and cattle dogs. I met lots of border collies. None of them had a tail, because there (as in some other parts of the country) the working dogs all get their tails docked at the age of 2 days. ACDs and BCs alike. I asked one person why and he said "Good grief! Why would anyone want a border collie with a tail?". The word "tail" spit out as if it were an expletive. Just custom there, although I don't approve of it myself.

 

So I find it hard to understand, and sometimes sad, when people judge a dog as being Aussie only because the dog has no tail. To my knowledge there's no way to know in an adult dog whether it was docked or the dog was born that way. It's not a clear indication of breed, any more than color alone is, in my opinion.

D'Elle

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So I find it hard to understand, and sometimes sad, when people judge a dog as being Aussie only because the dog has no tail.

 

On the other hand, I use the fact that Dean has a tail quite shamelessly when someone is insisting that he has to be an Aussie because he's a merle.

 

"Look - he has a tail" usually ends the debate and everyone knows that he is not, in fact, an Aussie.

 

Now I know there are Border Collies without tails, and Aussies with tails, and that the fact that he has a tail no more makes him a Border Collie than it makes him a Lab. But I also know he is a Border Collie and if that's what it takes to convince some people that I actually know the breed of my own dog, so be it!!

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I think it's a normal thing to get. Sometimes I use momenta to educate people "that's not a border collie, he doesn't look like one" .. That comment launches me into th "he's working bred" discussion. Sometime I get blank states and someone's I really do feel like I've stopped someone from gettin their next dog from show lines (no matter the breed).

 

The worst is from when people find out I feed raw.... Although one of my closest friends first response when she saw my boy eating a nice hunk of raw was great and everyone else who happened to be over for dinner that night freaked out, none of them real dog people, " well duh, what do you think wolfs eat" she announces.

 

I do preach when it comes to people jerking around their dogs, very physical corrections, or pulling/snapping on the leash when they are walking their dogs. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a big advocate for the everyday dog, I can't stand seeing people walk their dog dragging them around on the leash, pulling to get their attention, stopping and letting the dog get popped on the neck without a verbal were gonna stop soon warning.

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