Tag Archives: Rugby

Hurricane Ethics: The Ultimate Betrayal

I can’t bear those photos of abandoned and abused animals, so here’s the never abused  Marshall dog, Rugby. He can trust us. (OK, we can’t always trust him, but he’s a Jack Russell. He has our informed consent to be unreliable.)

Authorities in Palm Beach County, Florida discovered dozens of dogs  left behind by owners who evacuated in advance of Hurricane Irma, leaving the pets tied up or trapped in cages or pens without any means to escape or survive the storm. Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control was able to rescue 40 such dogs before the storm struck Florida.  Director Dianne Sauve told USA Today that in cases where she can identify owners of these abused animals, she would press felony charges for animal cruelty. “There is absolutely no excuse” for leaving the dogs like that, she said, noting that there are two shelters that allow residents to bring pets along with them.

I don’t comprehend how a human being could do this to an animal that they have accepted the responsibility of caring for. The conduct is an ultimate betrayal of reliance and trust. Dogs always fulfill their ends of the ancient agreement between them and people. They provide companionship, unconditional love, support and comfort in exchange for care and shelter. Abandoning a dog like this—“Hey, what’s the big deal? They’re only animals!”—represents such a basic failure of responsibility, fairness, kindness and caring that no one who betrays a dog so heinously should be trusted in any other field of endeavor or social context. If you don’t respect the lives of animals, that’s fine, but then don’t have pets. Don’t make an animal love you, and then leave it to die in fear and pain. How hard is that? Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Character, Ethics Dunces, Family, Love, Romance and Relationships

Where Do You Get The Idea That It’s OK To Insult My Dog?

Rugby2

I was walking Rugby yesterday—that’s him above from a recent commercial photo-shoot–and ran into a young woman walking her West Highland Terrier. I like Westies, as does Rugby (but then, he also likes mail carriers, squirrels, my sister and once wagged his tail at a cockroach…), and I made some positive comments about the breed.

“Well, your dog certainly looks like he hasn’t missed many meals!” was her response. The ethicist programming blocked me from saying what first popped into my head, which was, “Well, neither do you, bitch,” and instead I attempted to enlighten her by saying, in a moderate tone,

“Actually, Rugby is an authentic, Jack Russell Terrier Association-certified Jack Russell, meaning that he is not the long-legged, faux monstrosity the AKC calls a “Parson Russell Terrier,” nor the much smaller toy-like version it calls the “Russell Terrier.” Jack Russell Terriers of the Irish, as in genuine variety, are certified by their personality and hunting traits, and not by looks alone. Thus they vary more in physical traits than AKC breeds, bred for show, and since the bulldog is part of the strange and wonderful alchemy that makes these dogs the bundles of joy they are, some Jacks, like Rugby and his still mourned predecessor Dickens, have a thick bulldog build, with a broad chest and stocky body. They are all muscle (“unlike your simpy terrier”–the ethicist filter blocked this too), and you may be surprised to learn, given the fact that he is at this moment acting more lively than your young dog, that Rugby is just short of 13 years-old, and thus just a bit heavier, but not much, than he was in his youth when the vet said he was as perfect a specimen of the breed as he has ever seen. Val Kilmer or Kirsty Alley he isn’t. He remains unslowed by time, and those meeting him for the first time often mistake him for a puppy, which is undoubtedly how he sees himself.”

She just walked on, hearing little of it.

Why do people think that making gratuitously critical comments about a stranger’s pet is any less rude and disrespectful than insulting a child or anything else that the individual obviously cares about? Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Character, Daily Life, Etiquette and manners, Love

The President Says “Nigger,” And Good For Him!

Wheel of Fortune

On a podcast with comic Marc Maron—because comedians ask such probing questions and have such high journalistic standards—President Barack Obama, while musing on the topic of race, said, among other things:

“The legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination — in in almost every institution of our lives — that casts a long shadow, that’s still part of our DNA that’s passed on. Racism, we are not cured of it. And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say “nigger” in public. That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don’t, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior.” 

Whatever the pros and cons of that statement—and it really isn’t especially remarkable—, it is Obama’s use of the word “nigger” that has cable news and the internet buzzing, fainting and drooling. To take some media idiots at random…oh, let’s say, the Fox and Friends crew, along with some commentators Fox dug up someplace. you would think that Obama was doing a Samuel L.Jackson imitation.

If a President is going to talk about racism and raise the perfectly relevant issue of racial epithets such as nigger, it is reasonable, competent, civil and appropriate for him to speak the word he is talking about. Of course it is. No, “Fox contributor David Webb,” whoever you are, it is NOT “beneath the office of the president” to say the words that express the idea you intend to express. It would be beneath the office of the Presidency” for the grown man in that office to use juvenile code-words like “N-word,” which is the way my wife and I talk around our dog, since Rugby goes ballistic if we say “walk,” “outside,” “nap.” “treat, “cheese,” “food,” or “The Adventures of Lassie” out loud. Someone tell various news outlets that the undignified, foolish ones are all of them, treating their audiences or readers like children (or Jack Russell Terriers) and playing hangman and “Wheel of Fortune”—“He said n- – – – -!” I’ll buy a vowel, Pat!”—when they should be telling us exactly what the President said.

Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you! Now maybe if people are talking about the word nigger, they will use the word they are talking about, because that’s how human beings communicate.

Except on Fox news. I swear, sometimes, I don’t know what the hell they are doing.

 

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Journalism & Media, Race

Unethical Dog Ownership: Citronella Spray Bark-Control Collars

dog collar

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.

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Filed under Animals, U.S. Society