Saturday, September 27, 2008

Off-Leash Hours and Dirty Bookstores Redux; Encounter at Peninsula

The previous post generated an exchange of comments between Surreal947 and Datnioides. We shall close--end--this exchange with the following two comments. But first, a brief editorial remark. We do not view with favor Surreal's suggestion that our regular counts of illegally unleashed dogs are other than truthful. And while there is no way we can think of to determine if the "majority" of offleash dog owners are scofflaws, in suggesting that they are a small minority, Surreal is talking out of her hat. She might tear herself away from her computer some day and visit Prospect Park when and where we do.

First, Surreal's latest reply:
Your snarky commentary on books by dog lovers says much about you and your values. One need not agree with them in order to respect their genuine affection for their pets. That said, I disagree with you regarding majority/minority. You cite examples but for every one, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of law abiding citizens.I see litterbugs, speeders, smokers, and others who violate laws daily. As much as they annoy me, I do not ascribe their behavior to the majority.

You have made your anti off-leash sentiments known for some time. In looking back at CREDO posts here, I have seen your arguments. They boil down to the fact that YOU do not like off-leash. I can respect your views while disagreeing. You are free to keep your dogs leashed at all times. Many do. That is their choice. I guess this makes me pro-choice.

Others are free to choose off-leash during legal times and in legal places. Now, if you want to argue for enforcement during other times, I am with you (though I do support extending off-leash times in the Nethermead). We can agree to enforcement of all rules against bikers off paths and on sidewalks, picnickers who litter, against "Marcia" (who abuses people, animals, and plants), etc.

You are free to walk your dogs on leash away from those off leash. Personally, I dislike baseball so I avoid the fields. I do like the enjoyment it brings others. I am not a bird watcher, but I watch birds and admire their magnificence while knowing little about them scientifically.

I am not a biker, but am in awe of many while I could scream at those on sidewalks.You think my argument used straw men, but it was merely a response to yours. I do not say you want censorship, but I do suggest you censor yourself by not reading those books that annoy you so. Indifference is a powerful emotion too few utilize.

Ironically, in none of your posts, you have never expressed any affection for your dogs. I am not saying you do not like them, but you have never expressed this. Perhaps that is why certain authors who do express themselves annoy you so. (Just a hypothosis for future discussion.)

I do have a suggestion- CREDO and you might make a legitimate count of dogs on and off leash during non-off leash times. Be truthful and accurate.. walk everywhere and look everywhere. Then let's discuss it. I would be interested in your results.

To which Datnioides replied:

That's a good question. What do my snarky comments on books by dog lovers say about my values?

Since you, Surreal, know nothing about me or my lifelong experience and study of animals, I can't imagine why you would assess my values based on the simple fact that I don't care for sentimental dog books. That's just ridiculous. I mean, look around Barnes and Noble the next time you go in (just be careful to avoid the minefields of dog doo) Every author worth his/her bones is turning out slight, easy-to-read books about their favourite dogs. Canines are boffo box office. People are writing these books to make money, because these light, trifling, silly dog books are selling big time. They don't demand much of a reader. There's nothing wrong with that. In fact, I find this whole dog-veneration thing vastly amusing.

Why on earth would I respect someone's "genuine affection for their pets"? More often than not, I have seen excessive "dog love" turn people's brains into mush. I honestly don't know what it is about dogs that makes people throw common sense to the wind and over-identify with their pets to the point of absurdity. I'd really like to know what is going on here. In more sensible times, people said "Love me, love my dog." Now they say, "Love my dog, or get stuffed."

Dog love does not necessarily make one morally superior. The neurotic craving for the adoration of a living creature, genetically programmed to behave submissively and read behavioural cues in order to flatter and get what they want from humans, is not an admirable trait. I'll admit that dogs are appealing creatures. I have been around them all my life. I truly enjoyed training my pit bull to be a good canine citizen and the months of training made me a better person, because I learned how to be fair and truthful in my reciprocal dealings with a loyal fellow animal. I succeeded, not because I sentimentalized my animal and imposed my anthropomorphic fantasies on it, but because I appreciated and respected it for what it was, a dog. The relationship between dog and human will always be a little mysterious and that's what makes it so fascinating to me.

I am not one of those people who goes on and on about ooohh I love my dog, love, love, love this and that, blah blah blah. Too bad if the "Dog Lovers" find me cold and heartless because of this. Personally, I like people who work with dogs and teach them important jobs. I like dogs that are more than four legged emotional supports. I like dogs that can do things. My dog was trained by me to do circus tricks like jump through a hoop, dance in a circle, etc. Only a tiny minority of dog owners are willing to expend the effort to properly train them, and that's a shame.

Owning a dog is an honour to live up to. I honour my dog by keeping it safe and never allowing it to become a nuisance to other people. A well-trained dog is a boon companion and a protector. I don't need to bore the world by endlessly going on about how much I love my dog. I allow my balanced, happy, healthy dog to bespeak my love for it.

I'd love to post a picture of my dog but it is so distinctive and beautiful and well known and liked in my neighbourhood that it would be instantly recognized by many people, including the "Dog Lovers".

Discussion concluded.

* * * *
This past Friday afternoon at 4 P.M., a pedestrian was walking past the Peninsula towards the west drive when he heard a dog barking. A small, wiry dog was headed towards him, barking and snarling (the dog's tail was not wagging) as he heard an owner calling "come back". The pedestrian turned around, the dog stopped in its tracks about 20 feet from the walk, and the pedestrian proceeded. But at the same time a young female jogger passed the pedestrian going the other way, and the dog advanced to the edge of the walk, barking and snarling. The jogger stopped and hesitated about 10 feet away. The pedestrian turned around to join the jogger, threw his bag down between them and the dog, took out his pepper spray, and yelled to the owner to come leash her dog or he was going to use it. The jogger confided to the pedestrian that she was afraid of dogs. The dog stopped barking. Only at that point did the owner, a young white female, come forward to leash her dog. The jogger then left.

The owner--uncharacteristically--apologized profusely to the pedestrian (as in "I'm so sorry") and acknowledged that she knew about dog hours, but did not explain why she thought it was ok to let her dog run loose then.

Incidentally, in a 90-minutes walk on Friday afternoon in a drizzly Prospect Park, we encountered a total of two dogs, this one and one other leashed.

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