So. Michael Vick.

There is no picture associated with this post because, try though I might, I could not get either of my dogs to stand still long enough for me to take a picture of their asshole. Also, I felt weird trying to take a picture of a dog’s asshole.

But speaking of dog anuses: Michael Vick is a Steeler!

I’ve dribbled out my opinions over the course of the past two weeks, but for posterity, I’m going to consolidate them all here, according to the argument they were formed to refute. If you’re looking for a well-reasoned think-piece on the nuances and subtleties of the human capacity for forgiveness, keep looking. This isn’t it.

Let’s begin with my favorite: “Why weren’t you complaining when Ben was accused of rape?!!???”

I mean, first of all, Random Internet Person, how do you know I wasn’t?

90% of people asking this are fans who justify their ongoing fandom with the fact that Vick didn’t hurt a human, he hurt dogs. And hurting dogs isn’t nearly as bad as hurting a human. The implication being that hurting a human–in this case, allegedly raping a woman–is really, super terrible. Which, of course, it is.

And yet, they are still fans. Of the team. With the alleged rapist. Nay, they are not only fans, they are Fans Who Have Taken Up the Mantle. They are carrying the “You’re in Steelers Country” banner proudly into an onslaught of people who think that attaching jumper cables to a dog and then throwing the dog into a pool is completely fucking reprehensible, effectively announcing that they are totally fine with both rape allegations and dog electrocution.

So, to you 90%, I ask in retort: Why are YOU still a fan? Have you absolutely no moral ground you aren’t willing to cede for a Sunday afternoon of watching men run into one another repeatedly? My god, what does this question say about you?

The remaining 10% of askers are very busy accusing the Vick haters of being racist. To those 10%, I say . . . actually, yeah, some of them probably are racist, because there are a lot of racist shits in the world who will latch onto anything to justify their complete horribleness. But I’m hazarding that most people opposed to Vick are really more like me, in that they are completely willing to scream swear words at people who admit to personally “dropping a dog” (as in: to hang said dog), regardless of race, color, or creed.

“They’re just dogs! Why isn’t anyone this worked up about [list of all the things they care about more than dogs]?

Here’s the thing. I care about shit. Other people care about other shit. If we would all just act more on behalf of the shit we each care about, I’m willing to bet that pretty much every major concern in the world would be addressed.

But then, the people asking this don’t actually give all that much of a shit about the thing(s) they would rather Vick detractors give a shit about. What they actually give a shit about is justifying their fandom, and pretty much the only way to justify cheering for a person who ripped out every single one of a dog’s teeth is to make the opposition look as bad as possible. And what’s the easiest way for a pedant to make someone look like a monster?

Accuse them of not caring about starving children.

Starving kids. That’s the thing I’ve seen tossed around most frequently as being more shit-worthy than dogs.

Here is a list of some things that suck: starving kids, pedophilia, starving grown-ups, sexual assault, domestic violence, misogyny, racism, bigotry, rainforest depletion, human trafficking, homophobia, human-driven extinction, climate change, cancer, terrorism, incurable disease, mental illness, homeless animals, homeless people, factory farming, war, vivisection, the refugee situation in Syria, underfunded schools, Nickelback, drought, Alzheimer’s, forgotten veterans, sexism, lack of clean drinking water, AIDS, blood diamonds, murder, black market arts trade, genocide, female genital mutilation, torture . . . etc.

Attempting to care equally about every single thing on that list–let alone every single thing in the world that sucks– is ENTIRELY FUCKING IMPOSSIBLE. We are humans, and we work with a limited set of resources, whether it be money, time, or mental stamina. It is impossible to give equal shits about all of the shit-worthy things in life. And so what we do–let me stress this: WHAT WE ALL DO–is we pick the things that resonate with us, often for reasons that defy logic, and, assuming we are good people, we do what we can for the things that we can.

If we’re assholes, we just sit around asking other people why they aren’t doing more.

“He served his time!”

No. He didn’t. He dealt down to a charge of Conspiracy to Travel in Interstate Commerce in Aid of Unlawful Activities and to Sponsor a Dog in an Animal Fighting Venture and served nary one day in jail for picking a dog up by its back legs and beating it on the ground until it was dead.

“You should forgive him.”

Setting aside the fact that I couldn’t forgive him, even if I wanted to (I don’t want to), because he did nothing to me, isn’t that missing the point of forgiveness? Can the terms of forgiveness be dictated by a third party? If I “forgive” someone because someone else tells me to, is that even forgiveness? Doesn’t forgiveness have to be freely given? You keep using this word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

I suppose I could forgive him for offending every single moral fiber of my being . . . but I choose not to. It offends me. He offends me. I choose not to forgive that offense to my sensibilities and, inasmuch as it sounds like the taunt of a second grader, it remains true that you can’t make me.

“It was 8 years ago. Get over it already.”

I am on my way over to your house with a well-seasoned fighting dog. I’m going to make it fight your puggle, despite the fact that your puggle will, most likely, have no idea what is even going on. I will find this funny, and I will laugh as my dog mauls your puggle.

Once your puggle has been mortally wounded and can no longer entertain me with his pain, I will have no use for him. I will need to get rid of him. I will do this by driving my car around back, next to your above ground pool with the Steelers floatie in it, whereupon I will connect jumper cables–to my car battery and to your nearly-dead puggle’s ears. I will throw your puggle into the pool and laugh as I watch his last salvo, scratching and biting at the pool wall as he is slowly electrocuted.

Then I will tell you I’m sorry, calmly collect my jumper cables, and drive away.

I expect, in eight years time, to receive an invitation to Thanksgiving dinner. If I do not receive said invitation, I’m going to be very upset. Because your puggle was just a dog and it’s been eight years, for christ’s sake, and I said I’m sorry. It’s not like I allegedly raped anyone, so get over it already. You should put this much effort into things that really matter.

Like starving children.

In Which I Ramble About Deer and Assholes

"You're going to want to grab a cup of coffee. This one got long"

“You’re going to want to grab a cup of coffee. This one got long”

I have nothing against hunting. For food.

When taken by a responsible hunter (i.e. permitted, law-abiding, property-respecting, good shot) wild game is one of the most humane sources of animal protein currently available. Unlike our factory farming system, which sentences animals to a life of unspeakable horrors, game animals are more or less bopping around their native habitats, having about as good a life as they can in a world run by people until, ideally, they are quickly and quietly dispatched.

I also have a not insignificant amount of respect for people who interact with their food systems in a way that I don’t, can’t, or won’t. I believe there is much to be said for the hunter who understands, and respects, that he or she is taking a life in order to sustain their own, and then proceeds to put every bit of the animal to use with a near psychotic efficiency.

That said, I have everything in the world against hunting for sport. If your idea of “sport” is stalking a thumb-less and unarmed vegetarian creature while you, an apex predator, are stuffed with beer and strapped to the gills in miniaturized explosives well, I’d like to introduce you to “golf.” Because golf is more sporting than that shit.

And in the name of sweet sweet reason, don’t plaster Facebook with photos of you drunkenly holding the head of your still-warm quarry. One, that is disrespectful—if you do that, you are officially hunting for “sport” even if you eat the damn thing. Two, I just assume that every male who does this is suffering a serious case of micropenis. If you have to kill a deer because it is literally or metaphorically better hung than you are, check how you’re living. And get a hobby. I suggest an actual sport.

Based on the aforementioned opinions, I have a hierarchy of hunters. At the top of that hierarchy, more or less above reproach, is the subsistence hunter. You do you, man. And thank you for not contributing to the US’s deplorable animal husbandry standards. Beneath subsistence hunters—like way, way beneath them; so far beneath them they’d need an extension ladder to lick a subsistence hunter’s bootheel—are the “sport” hunters who all need to read a fucking book.

And beneath even them, down past the Treacherous in what, I’m sure, would have been labeled the Twentieth Circle of Hell (give or take) if only Dante had had a bigger excavator, are the Inhumane Fuckwits.

King of the Inhumane Fuckwits is the canned hunt-er.

This makes the entire municipality in which I dwell—bastion of soccer moms, upscale shopping, and vegan groceries—the official barony of Inhumane Fuckwits. For you see, those soccer moms have become very worried about their soccer vans toting their soccer children as deer run rampant! Hurling themselves into traffic! Launching themselves through windscreens! Mayhem! Destruction! Carnage! There is blood in the streets and its up to the soccer moms’ ankles because deer.

So the precioussssssssss (fuck them) have instituted a canned hunt, which they are calling a deer cull, recently approved by the PA Game Commission (fuck them, too.) This allows them to set up paddocks, spread corn, close the gate, then shoot the captive deer. Not only is this a stupidly ineffective non-solution to the problem, it’s unspeakably cruel. Deer have nothing on us. They don’t have a second amendment and are therefore without firearms, they can’t really bite us to death (not effectively, anyway), and they’re the exact opposite of intimidating. There was that one guy, on When Animals Attack, who was boxed by a deer but, injuries notwithstanding, I think the overwhelming majority of the population just laughed at that. Or maybe that was just me.

This canned hunt removes their only means of defense–the ability to run away–so that people can quickly and conveniently shoot them in the head. And, to add insult to mortal injury, it does it by luring them into the situation. It’s not like the deer just happened to be standing around in this pen so someone closed the gates. Nay. It’s winter. They’re hungry. Inevitably, they find this Xanadu in the snow, where the floor is literally paved with dried corn and BLAM! Someone shoots them in the face. And the last ones to go get to freak the hell out while they watch the other deer get shot in the face.

If you can’t see what’s wrong with that, fuck you, as well. The Humane Society will see you out.

I obviously have a problem with this “solution”, but I also take issue with the underlying premise that anything at all needs to be done about the deer. We have a lot of them, that is true. We also have a fair amount of green space in the community. If only someone could have forseen that parkland attracts wildlife. Woe betide us. But then, I’m guessing that green space and an overall bucolic vibe are likely two features that attracted many of these Inhumane Fuckwits to the Lebo over, say, Larimer.

In addition to a lot of deer, we also have relatively low speed limits. I’ve seen far more deer on the residential, 25MPH, streets than I have on the primary roads—which stands to reason: it’s quieter. Much more chill. They wander around, fairly unmolested, eating people’s Hostas. There are no Hostas on Banksville. So, I mean, I hate to bring up the elephant in the room (please don’t shoot him!) but uhhhhhh . . . if you’re driving 25 MPH or less, pray tell me: why can you not avoid bloody, deadly collisions with large mammals?

Oh right. It’s because you are actually traveling almost twice that speed, but it’s just plain easier to blame the deer than it is to take responsibility. And also, I know you paid your landscapers a lot to maintain those Hostas.

Let me pause here to emphasize that I, in no way, mean to diminish the safety risk posed by Pennsylvania’s crazy pants deer population. Deer-vehicle collisions are at best scary, and at worst, deadly. But in a mostly residential community, with pretty rational speed limits and good distance from the closest interstate, there is no way that they should be as out-of-control scary as our little hamlet would have it seem.

Speeding is a known issue here. Drive half a mile through this community and you’ll lose count of all the “Drive like your children live here!” signs you will pass. As a runner, I have been very nearly run off the road twice, and actually hit by a vehicle once. I’ve been running off and on since 1998, in four states and five cities, and this is the only place I’ve ever been concerned for my safety. Here. In a community that markets itself on its walkability. Which is to say, Mt. Lebanon: you all drive like assholes.

When I pointed this out on a Facebook discussion, I was summarily told “not all drivers!” and also that pedestrians need to take responsibility for not being visible enough. Legitimate overtures could be made to take “It’s your fault!” as our community catchphrase. Isn’t it possible–just possible–that this asshole attitude, combined with the speeding, might have something to do with all your freaking deer collisions? Perhaps we don’t need a deer cull so much as a driver reeducation camp. Because even if the deer cull works (it won’t) these people are still going to need something to break them from their texting-while-driving stupor and a runner works just as well as a deer. Will we then ban runners? Or just shoot them?

Since I acknowledge that there are a lot of deer, and that we are but one community in the midst of a state-wide deer overpopulation issue, I’m not averse to the notion that something, perhaps, should be done. I will at least humor that notion. My first favorite response to overpopulation of deer is allowing the natural coyote population to return to healthy levels.

Except that one time that people in Lebo starting seeing coyotes, they freaked the hell out and wanted to kill those, too. If there’s one thing Lebonites dislike even more than deer eating their Hostas, it’s coyotes eating their Morkiepoos. So obviously that won’t work.

Well, ok. What about sterilization? That was one of the plans under consideration. Does would be tranquilized and sterilized in a mobile surgical suite. What on earth could be wrong with that?

Not fast enough. All the deer would remain alive. An entire deer generation-worth of Hostas would still be eaten. Natch.

So you see, an inhumane eradication procedure was really their only option. Won’t anybody think of Mt. Lebanon? The deer have made them be mean. It’s so sad.

Apparently, the deer have also rendered them terminally stupid, because here’s the thing: once they shoot all the captive deer, freeing their streets and thinning the herd, do they sincerely expect surrounding deer won’t move in? Are they going to build a fence? Do they suspect that the Upper St. Clair deer, and the Scott Township deer, and the Dormont deer will hear what happens in Mt. Lebanon and just . . . stay away? Do they honestly believe that deer even know where the boundaries of those communities are? I know Lebo thinks it’s the center of the universe and that everyone knows it, but I gotta say, I think the deer give about as many fucks as I do.

The deer want the space, we have the space. The deer aren’t going anywhere unless you build a bubble (true fact: there is not presently a bubble over Lebo to contain its rarified air. I repeat: won’t anyone think of them?) So all this really does is begin an endless cycle wherein portions of our green space are turned into mammalian massacre pens.

And you just know someone is going to bitch about having to look at the blood-soaked ground.

When Running for Critters Runs Into Critters Running. Also, Asshats.

I hope your coffee was super delicious, jagoff.

I hope your coffee was super delicious, jagoff.

Pop quiz!

Not quite one week ago you “rescued” a “traumatized” dog who is scared of people. Today, you want gas station coffee. Do you:

A) Pat pup on the head, give him a Kong, and take your 15 minute leave to walk to the local filling station

B) Pat pup on the head, give him a Kong, crate him, and take your 15 minute leave to walk to the local filling station

C) Put pup in the car and drive the stupidly short distance to the gas station because you don’t want to leave pup, but you really need the coffee and you realize only a serious douchecanoe would tie their dog to a trash can while they ducked into a convenience mart for coffee

D) Walk pup to gas station. Secure him to trash can because I mean, that’s basically their third purpose, behind “trash can” and bike rack, amirite?

If you picked D, I may have met you Thursday. And if you did, and I did, and you thought, “Heavens, that was a polite, if hurried young lady. What a wonderful world we live in! And with such delicious coffee!” I just want you to know that it took absolutely everything good within me to keep from kicking you in the nads.

If that all sounds familiar but you’re just not sure if it was you, allow me to refresh.

Me: smallish, possibly angry-looking female on last leg of run commute hauling ass up Federal street as your dog careened down the middle of it and through busy intersections before Tokyo-drifting around a corner and into morning commute traffic.

You: Douchecanoe who strolled leisurely in general direction of said dog, stopping to chat up passersby and enquire as to the whereabouts of your hound while sipping coffee and explaining, variously, that he “doesn’t run fast” and that he’s skittish around people.

I have a love/hate relationship with ambiguity and, in this instance, I’m feeling more hate. So, since I am kind and want what is best not only for you, but OF you, I have prepared a brief DOS and DON’Ts list for dog treatment in light of the above scenario. Let’s get started with the don’ts, shall we? Get all that pesky negativity out of the way.

  • DON’T secure your recently-rescued, “traumatized” and skittish dog to a trash can and then leave him unattended. How is this even a thing you need to be told? If my dad were alive he’d be asking you if you just fell off the turnip truck while I bashed you in the face with my fully loaded water bottle for being absolutely incompatible with a reasonable and compassionate citizenry. I would completely ignore irony in favor of sweet, vengeful righteousness.
  • You know what, asshole? DON’T secure any dog to any thing and then leave them unattended. This simplifies everything, because if you never do it, you won’t ever do it in such a profoundly imbecilic context as the one above. Even if your dog is the most awesomely well-socialized, friendly, happy, obedient canine on Earth, do you know what kind of PEOPLE are out there? For starters, there’s you. And then it goes down hill. There are people who see a dog and want a dog and steal a dog; people who need bait dogs; people who are seriously fucked in the head and just want to do awful things; jackass little kids who like to pet, poke, prod, or otherwise antagonize dogs because they’re little shits and their parents are cretins. ALL KINDS OF PEOPLE. Leaving your dog unattended is setting them up to be harassed, bite someone, or possibly get freaked out and pull over a trash can before running through the city streets.
  • DON’T adopt another damn dog. Not until you can wrap your mind around the most basic responsibilities of dog stewardship, chief among which is keeping them safe–an ideal fundamentally incompatible with tethering said dog to a trash can. I mean, if you’re ever in doubt, just say that out loud: “I am going to tether my dog to a trash can.” Would you tether your baby to a trash can? What about, like, your favorite leather car coat? You tying that to a trash can anytime soon? Do you even know who voluntarily touches trash cans? NOBODY THEY ARE GROSS AND COVERED IN TRASH JUICE.
  • DON’T, for the love of all that is good in this world, be that insufferably laid back person. You know, the one who’s all, “Dogs are cool, man, you just gotta chill out. They’ll find their way home if they get loose. They aren’t, like, stupid, man. Sometimes you just gotta let ’em run.” Dogs aren’t stupid, but this kind of flippant attitude is. I’m not asking you to be some kind of neurotic, I’m simply suggesting that you check in with common sense every so often and recognize that your dog is entirely dependent on you for all his basic needs, including safety. Just keep your goddamn dog safe and save your chill for the next Burning Man Festival.

And for the dos:

  • DO take a long, hard look at the picture at the top of the page. Because those are YOUR DOG’S BLOODY PAW PRINTS. I first saw them on Phineas Street, almost a mile from where I initially saw your dog. And on my way home, after work, I saw your dog’s bloody paw prints fucking everywhere. All over the North Side. That picture? That was taken on Sandusky, near the Warhol Museum. Nearly another mile from the prints on Phineas. There are miles of your poor dog’s bloody paw prints crisscrossing an entire section of the city. And while I realize that my mental anguish in seeing them is nothing compared to what your dog must have felt, running scared through traffic and bleeding all over the North Side, that shit chaps my ass so bad I’ma have to buy stock in Boudreaux’s Butt Paste. I spent THE ENTIRE GODDAMNED DAY thinking about and worrying about YOUR DOG. So, not only did you fuck up your dog’s day, but you seriously side fucked mine AND I AM NOT OK WITH THAT. It is not ok that I spent the morning imagining your dog being smashed by a truck on 28 and frantically texting the administrator of the local lost dog page. It is not ok that I did all this worrying and texting while thinking of you peaceably strolling down the street, making excuses for why your dog was hurling himself through intersections.

There really are no excuses. Your dog was in the position he was in because you were an asshole. Now, I realize that you and I shared a brief interaction during which you came off as a flippant prick and that may not be the real you. Maybe you realized you put your dog in a world of hurt and you shut down out of embarrassment and sincere regret. I don’t know, and I don’t really care.

But I do care about your dog. Your dog deserves better. If you’re ever reunited, I hope you remember that, and I hope you can somehow dig deep and find the champion that he deserves.

Though, if we’re being honest, I hope even more that some other, really super great person gets your dog and stuffs him full of liver jerky and snuggles on the couch with him. And if that person ever finds, on a blustery Thursday morning, that they really want a coffee, I hope they have a goddamned coffee maker.

Stoned, Immaculate

IMG_3097.JPG

chilling better through chemistry

I’m having one of those synergistic moments where I keep bumping into the same topic everywhere around the intertubez–even on blogs and pages that aren’t immediately related to the topic. That topic being the use of medication, specifically for dogs, specifically for anxiety, specifically-specifically about how they should be an absolute last resort after years of training has proven ineffective. As the steward of Calvin, the medicated Beagle-ish seen above relaxing through thanks to the wonders of Trazodone, I have feels about this. And with the disclaimer that I am not a veterinary or behavioral professional (although I am besties with a vet tech and I have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express a time or two, just saying) my feels are as follows: 

If you have allergies, you take an antihistamine. Yes? 

Or if you have acid reflux, an ulcer, or the like, you take a Proton Pump Inhibitor or an H2 suppressor. Right?

And if you’re one of the 20% of Americans (as of 2010) reportedly taking medication for an anxiety or behavioral disorder, you take your meds and probably expect Judgy McJudgerson’s to shut their fat faces about the fact that you take medication for a medical condition. Correct?

But you expect your dog to manage a medical condition without medication because somebody told you it wasn’t a medical condition so much as the fact that your sweet little puppy is actually a brutal dictator who keeps a copy of Mein Kampf stashed beneath his pup-r-pedic bed and if you just showed him who’s boss and took him for longer walks he would be normal. In other words, you have a chronically stressed out dog? It’s your fault and you’re doing it wrong and your dog is LAUGHING AT YOU every time you turn your back, and he’s calling all his puppy friends and telling them what a sucker you are because he totally rules this roost, he says, as he kicks back on your couch and puts his feet up on the coffee table. 

No seriously. I had a trainer once tell me that that was basically what Karmann was doing when she barked at squirrels. Kicking her feet up. Owning me. That’s another story, though. 

Ok, so look. The above makes a few assumptions, chief among them being that you have a chronically anxious dog and you’ve worked with him and you meet his physical needs and he’s been to the vet and you’re at the point where everyone is sort of scratching their heads and making up back stories for why your dog is so awfully awful and averse to learning and normalcy. It assumes you’re at the point where maybe a vet that you trust has thrown down the M word for your consideration and you’re like, “Yeaaaaahhhhhhh ummmmm . . . anti-depressants are an absolute last resort for my dog, because he’s a dog and, like, I mean, HE’S A DOG and that seems weird and, like, my family is going to laugh at me and buy me a Cesar Milan book if I tell them the dog is taking an anti-depressant.”

And if you’re at that point, can I just say, no shame. Seriously. I have been there, and a teensy little part of me still fights going back there. It is counter-fucking-intuitive in our culture–that condemns human beings for taking human medication to help with anxiety and other mental health problems–to accept that not even your dog can pull himself up by his bootstraps.

But here’s the thing. Stuffy nose? Decongestant. Infection? Antibiotic.

Anxiety disorder? Anxiety medication. 

Some people can’t deal on their own–they need help to get them to a place where they can learn and adopt better approaches to various situations. Why is it so hard for us to extrapolate that such a condition can occur for some dogs? And further, that when such a condition occurs in a dog, why is then so difficult to make the leap and medicate for it? Karmann has Addison’s Disease, I don’t refuse to give her prednisone and cross my fingers that more rigorous training and better exercise will somehow force her adrenals to do their job, so why would I apply the same logic to Cal’s anxiety issue and wait tentatively for his brain chemistry to correct itself just because we walked three miles today, instead of two?

The most common undercurrent that my spidey-sense picks up in all these medication-as-last-resort discussions is not the long-term effects of medicating a dog (and hey, that’s legit no matter the species), it’s the weird insinuation that medicating a chronically anxious dog would somehow be cheating. To which I have only one response, ever, and that is: you know that’s not how it works at all, right? 

I didn’t just chuck a Prozac down Cal’s throat and *WHAM!* instanormal. 

I don’t give him a Trazodone before a particularly stressful event and then proceed to bring the pain. 

Administering behavioral meds will never allow you to abdicate your exercise/training/need-meeting responsibilities to your dog. Giving her a valium doesn’t instantly turn her into a bored housewife who eats two martinis for lunch, and it won’t make the Rolling Stones write a song about her, either. 

It allows them to learn. 

That is all. The right med or cocktail of meds doesn’t turn your dog into slug, or suck their energetic joy. It allows them to learn new behaviors where they would otherwise whip themselves into such a frenzy of fear and anxiety that they would be incapable of learning those coping behaviors. 

Yesterday I took Cal to the vet. I gave him a full dose of Trazodone before we went, knowing that the vet is a horrifying place for him. Just about a year ago I did the same thing–took Cal to the vet–without the Trazodone. 

Last year, he couldn’t be examined without a muzzle. He barked, and freaked out, and was, as he has always been since his arrival, seriously under weight. 

This year, he’s gained 7lbs and is finally at a healthy weight, and although he was clearly nervous, he remembered to look to me for help navigating the situation. No muzzle was needed, and he willingly approached both the vet and the tech, before AND after the exam, and took cookies from them. 

Six months ago, a full dose of Trazodone would have bought us enough time to remove ourselves from a situation he couldn’t handle. Yesterday, Cal powered through a 1/2 hour vet appointment. The amount of meds didn’t change; the meds cannot in any way be held singularly responsible for the difference between six months ago and yesterday. What made the difference is their ongoing deployment in a (positive, non-putative) training routine to help him learn how to deal with stressors. The meds helped him learn. 

They helped him learn. 

They helped him learn.

For me, overcoming the, “What do you mean, my dog needs Prozac?” issue was a struggle since I, myself, don’t like taking meds for anything. I would prefer–and wouldn’t we all?–to have a perfectly healthy dog who doesn’t need any sort of pharmacological intervention. But I don’t have that. I have a dog who needed more help than any sort of training, alone, could provide, and I had to decide between giving him that help, or doing nothing and hoping that his truly awful interaction with the world around him would just magically disappear and, more importantly, not cause him continued pain and stress. In my mind, failure was not admitting that he needed that extra help. Failure would have been to refuse that help and continue allowing him to lead an uncomfortable, perhaps even psychologically harmful, life. When you look at it like that, the choice shouldn’t be a difficult one. 

Your dogs comfort and safety shouldn’t be an inverse moral judgement on your choices as a dog steward. And if somebody tries to make it that, tell them to fuck off to the shrink and get their own prescription, because they’re clearly a miserable soul. 

I hear Trazodone works wonders. 

 

 

Compassion

I have always been attracted to Buddhism. I think its doctrine of compassion and non-violence and the acknowledgement of suffering is beautiful and amazing and so . . . Ideal.

But it’s stories like THIS that remind me I would be a shit Buddhist.

I can look at the piece of shit that stabbed Rocco, the Pittsburgh Police K-9 officer, and, logically, rationally, I can think, “that is a person whose life has most likely not been easy, has probably lacked a substantial amount of the privilege I’ve had, and who is operating within the context of his own experiences and limitations, none of which I can grasp.” And so I understand, on a very rational level, that I should feel compassion for him, and that doing so by no means requires me to excuse his actions. After all, everyone makes mistakes–the size and scope of which are often dictated by our personal context. Thus, some mistakes are considerably larger and more life altering than others. It isn’t my business to decide who is worthy of redemption or forgiveness. It isn’t my business to decide who is worthy of compassion; I recognize that we all should be worthy.

But here’s the thing: I don’t care. Hell, I don’t even want to care. Toss him in a cage, feed him or don’t, kill him or don’t. I do not give one teeny tiny fraction of a shit about his suffering or his disposition henceforth, save that–quite contrary to my reason–I’d actually prefer that he suffer in some fashion, for a very, very long time.

I feel this way about every person who intentionally harms or abuses an animal. Where animals are concerned, I am an anti-Buddhist: kill them all. Make them all suffer. Whatever. Just bring the pain. Critter abuse speaks to the basest parts of my consciousness. Visit upon them exactly the hurt that they inflicted.

It’s all a bit cognitively dissonant for me, considering I’m against capital punishment. But I suspend that aversion where animals are concerned. How? What justifications could I possibly provide for asserting that a human who kills another human should not be killed, but a human that harms an animal should not only be killed, but they should be sent to Guantanamo, first?

I don’t have an answer to that. I have never had an answer to that, despite considerable soul searching for one. I recognize that my feelings on animal cruelty will never, ever reconcile with my rational mind and . . . I don’t care. I feel the way I feel about it, and I will admit that I probably shouldn’t feel that way, but I do and it’s so strong I recognize that, even if I wanted to, it would be very near impossible for me to change those feelings, to elevate them. And I just don’t want to. Not enough. I am, for better or worse, entirely comfortable with directing unholy hate rays at people who harm critters.

There’s a whole other discussion woven into this one, about the value of life and whether or not I value critters over humans, but that’s another philosophical waxing for another day. I think my ranking system, as it were, is a bit more nuanced. But I will not hide or apologize for the–some might say–extremity of my views. I feel this way. And I’m ok with it.

Run free, Rocco.

Now fry the asshat who killed him.