Happy Boxing Day, for those of you who have servants, butler and and the like! Do make sure your underlings enjoy a Christmas-like experience a day late, after caring for you and your family yesterday!
Ethics Alarms will kick off its Boxing Day festivities with another terrific Comment of the Day by Mrs, Q. I’m hopping it over two other COTD in waiting, in part because I feel guilty: her post was stuck in moderation because I was “making a bit merry yesterday” (Source?) and neglected the blog comments. I apologize to Mrs.Q and my readers. Her comment was stuck because it included many invaluable links to additional information.
She addressed the horrible incident discussed in yesterday’s commentary regarding a fatal dog attack last week that took the life of a couple’s newborn child. Mrs. Q concentrates her ethics marksmanship on an aspect of the story that I mentioned, but only broadly: the parents’ accountability for the tragedy.
Here is Mrs. Q’s Comment of the Day on the post, “At Least This Time They Didn’t Blame Pitbulls…“
Perhaps I’m being harsh, but I do think the parents and every parent or guardian this happens to, should be charged.
We have an incredibly irresponsible ethos going on in the world of dog ownership. People who willingly choose to have a dog, of any size dog, around small children, without educating themselves on danger behavior signals, is complicit in spreading such violence.
The killings of children is just a part of it. 50% of kids under 12 have been bitten by dogs. Most dog bites children experience happen over 70% of the time on the face and neck. Continue reading →
Since the culture is being bombarded with propaganda and indoctrination holding that racism—defined as broadly and inclusively (inclusive racism..HEY! I just made up an oxymoron!) as the totalitarian thought police choose in order to intimidate you—is the single most important malady in existence, and must be rooted out in all its forms, a newspaper editor didn’t laugh himself sick when an op-ed writer offered this insanity, opining not only that dogs could be racists, but that owners have a moral duty—moral duty, mind you—to break them of their racists ways. The author, Ryan Poe, begins,
Dogs are racists. OK, not all dogs. But some of them have been conditioned, usually through either a bad experience or lack of experience, to discriminate based on skin color. It’s horrible but true: man’s best friend isn’t always a best friend to all men. The good news is that your KKK-9 doesn’t have to stay racist: Bad conditioning can (and should be) reversed.
Let’s stop right there. Dogs don’t know what race is, so claiming that dogs can be racist is ridiculous on its face. They do not hold one race inferior to others. They do not hold racial stereotypes or assume negative character traits based on race. Racism is human behavior, not canine. Continue reading →
Here’s at least one example of the culture getting more ethical. It might not seem like much, but ask a Jack Russell Terrier, and you’ll understand.
Gradually, dog owners and breeders are stopping the practice of docking—that is, cutting—the ears and tails of puppies so they conform to arbitrary breed standards. The reason is simple: it is cruel and pointless, and the dogs look just as good, indeed better, the natural way.
I first noticed this trend years ago when I saw this breed at a dog show:
I had no idea what it was. I asked, was told it was a natural example of the breed I was used to seeing this way…
Yes, it’s a Great Dane. In recent years, fewer and fewer owners are opting for the ear operation, allowing the breed to keep the ears that reflect its English Mastiff ancestry.
This beautiful, loving, smart breed dog usually has both its tale and its ears cropped, the tail down to a nub:
Continue reading →
My sister just called me to recount a disturbing story. She is a dog lover, and knows all of the many dogs in her neighborhood. Passing by the yard belonging to another dog-owning friend, she was greeted by the animal, who obviously recognized her, and was attempting to welcome her with what anyone familiar with dogs would immediately recognize as a happy bark. Every time the dog barked, however, his “bark-control” collar sprayed citronella in his face. My sister said it was obviously frustrating for the dog, who kept barking and wincing. Eventually the owner came out and took the collar off so it could interact with his two-legged friend.
I had never heard of this kind of bark-control collar. The Humane Society disapproves of them as ineffective, but that’s a non-ethical consideration. The devices are cruel, not to mention proof-positive, if you use one, that you should get one of those Japanese robotic dogs instead of the real thing. Never mind that the barking of other dogs can set them off—“Heh, heh! Watch this, Bruno, every time I bark, Lassie’s collar sprays her right in her smug Collie puss!”—it’s frustrating to a canine’s natural desire to communicate, and dogs communicate a lot, and well.
Our Jack Russell Terrier Rugby has more than twenty distinct barks and even more grunts, whimpers, sighs, and quacks to signify everything from “I want a biscuit!” to “What the hell is that?“ to “Take me with you!” to “It’s my dog-pal Elphie!” to ” I hate you, you stupid Belgian Shepherds!“and much, much more. Rugby would do very well with one of those dog-translator collars from “Up.” (The Japanese have also invented a dog translator, but your dog has to speak Japanese.)
Learning what your dog is saying with his or her various barks is part of the experience of sharing your life with these amazing animals, and rigging up a device to punish a dog for barking is pet owner malpractice, irresponsible, and wrong.
No, this isn’t my sister’s Havanese, but you get the idea…
“There are two kinds of people…” and one of the most undeniable ways to finish this much-worn sentence is “those who understand dogs and those who don’t.” To understand them is to marvel at them, cherish them, and love them. Not to understand them, as an astounding number of humans do, is to live in ignorance and fear, and to miss out on one of the mystical joys of life: bonding with an animal.
I never fully appreciated this until my younger sister under went a rare midlife conversion, changing sides from the canine-phobic to the dog-allied. Divorced, she was faced with an empty nest, and though she had always emulated my mother, who had nothing but contempt for dogs (cats too), decided that she could not bear returning to a house with no one to express joy that she had returned.
My wife, who had witnessed my sister’s callous treatment of our dogs, who were greatly insulted, was dubious, and was certain her new companion, an abusrdly cute, cheerful, silly, dumb as a brick Havanese named “Elphie,” would be neglected. She has never been happier to be wrong.
My sister’s entire attitude has changed, not merely toward dogs, but toward the whole of humanity and the world. She is happier, friendlier, more resilient and less anxious. She has fearlessly assisted a huge lost wolf hybrid; she has guided a wandering Great Dane home; she lets pit bulls leap up to lick her. Now she complains that she missed so many years of interaction with what she has learned are fascinating, empathetic, loving creatures with individual personalities and the ability to surprise and delight every single day.
I thought of my sister as I read Lisa Weber’s Comment of the Day on the most recent Ethics Alarms post about the other side. Here it is: