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.

Doga = NOga

this is not the face of a canine yogi

this is not the face of a canine yogi

 

This afternoon, I took Karmann to a local fall-themed dog event. It included a session of “doga,” which is, of course, dog yoga. It’s the reason we went. In addition to whatever the hell a dog yoga class could be, it promised dog massage, which I thought would be helpful for Karmann’s arthritis.

Allow me, then, to explain it for you.

Doga = gathering 20-30 mostly-oblivious dog stewards into a room, and then making them do things that further direct their attention away from their dogs, in the name of presence and dog-bonding. There is barking.

In other words, doga is a horrible idea.

Since I had no idea what to expect, I wore, well, yoga pants. I realized that it was DOGa, however I also felt reasonably assured that I was not going to look at Karmann, be all, “Yo, puppy, Trikonasana.” and watch in amazement as she executed a perfect Triangle Pose. Whatever the hell doga would be, I figured, would require some flexibility and dog manipulation on my part, and I therefore did not wear low-rise superskinnies with my knee high motorcycle boots.

Lesson 1: not everybody is logical.

I walked into a room including around five pup-moms in skinny jeans and boots, one of whom immediately said, because I am invisible and/or presumed deaf, “It’s dog yoga, I didn’t think *I* would be doing yoga. What’s with the people in yoga pants?” To which another superskinny warrior responded, “People wear those things EVERYWHERE. To work, even.”

Lesson 2: I am absolutely right in my assumption that all people are asshats until they prove otherwise. Yoga notwithstanding.

Prior to doga, I spent an hour and a half walking Karmie around, trying to blow off some steam and prepare her for the mindlfullness that would surely be required of a canine yogi. And it worked, more or less. Until all the other people started coming in with their dogs, barking and freaking the hell out and dressed like tacos and  batman princesses because there was a costume contest immediately preceding over at the tent area (which had six swag tents, two of which were booze samples–yay puppies!) In other words, it was pretty much like every other dog-specific novelty gathering that counts for the one time each year that people venture off their home turf with their dogs and without their brains.

Lesson 3: refer to lesson 2.

Finally, yoga starts and I am THRILLED because what, even, is doga?!?? We are told that we are going to learn to be mindful WITH our dogs, which seems weird, and proceed to do a basic breathing exercise while 25 or so dogs on leashes vibrate around the nuclei of our persons, trying to interact with someone, ANYONE. Human, dog, they don’t care, they do not know what is happening and all the people have their eyes closed, hyperventilating.

Lesson 4: Doga confuses actual dogs.

And then we start a circular walking meditation, for which some kindly people very thoughtfully put out water bowls. Which means that our aware, present, relaxing, centering circumambulation is punctuated by four dog pile ups, puppies lunging for water, and bowl-guarding snit fits. Breathe in to the count of four left foot strikes, hold it for two, breathe out for the PLEASE STOP LETTING YOUR DOG SNAP AT THAT AGING BEAGLE WHO WOULD JUST LIKE WATER.

Lesson 5: Doga is not relaxing. For anyone.

After the circumambulation-cum-water fights, we are told to pull out our treats to begin working on gaze with our dogs.

Treats?

I was not told to bring treats. In fact, I very specifically do not bring treats to group dog events because I don’t want to start a brawl by whipping out liver jerky in a room full of stressed, over-stimulated, poorly-minded strangedogs. We are treatless. Poor Karmann. This is really not working out for her at all.

The exercise we’re doing, however, is one that Karmie owns like the fuzzbutt little bawss she is: eye contact and following. She knows this as “watch,” so we rock it out sans treats, substituting pets and nose kisses for liver. After a couple minutes, she has come back to earth. Whew.

Which is when we are told to stand on our leashes, our feet hip width apart.

Ok. Um. Three problems:

1. When I take Karmann into densely populated urban areas, I use a 4 foot leash. That’s so I don’t have 3 feet of looping leash flopping against my leg while I leave a foot or so free to guide her through people/stupid kids/stupid parents/other dogs/old people.

2. “hip-width” is about two feet, give or take, and my dog is not a dachshund. Her neck is not at floor level when she is standing. So minus 2 feet to keep Karm comfey, I’m left with 2 feet of “ground leash” on which to spread my feet apart, which puts one foot in the loop, rather awkwardly. From the looks of it, several other pet parents were encountering a similar issue, because this instruction led to a lot of dogs with their heads pulled down to the floor while they fought to continue standing.

3. I am specifically uncomfortable in a room full of stressed, over-stimulated dogs whose heads are being forcibly pulled toward the ground while also not under any sort of manual control by their people. Because standing on your leash gives you pretty much none controls in that situation. One slip of your foot, or a dog that REALLY wants to meet his neighbor, like, NOW, and said dog is born free and flying out the door. Or into the face of someone else’s dog who does not wish to have a dog in their face.

I realize some may think I’m over-thinking this. Maybe I am. But taking care of Cal has made me much more sensitive to the stress levels of dogs, as well as the  bullshit people put their dogs through in the name of “fun.” This was not fun. I was not having fun, Karmann was not having fun, most of the other dogs in that room were not having fun, and all the not-fun we were having made it pretty clear to me that it was not worth the risk of something stupid happening. So I grabbed our bag and we split.

We had about a 3/4 mile walk to the car and, within maybe two minutes of leaving that room, Karmann relaxed, flopped her ears back, and happily sniffed her way back to the parking lot.

THAT was fun.

Lesson 7: My doggie is awesome (pre-existing knowledge.)

 

Happy New Year

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We just spent a large portion of our last day of 2013 as we spent so many moments before it: stupidly trying to do things to benefit the critters by employing incomplete information and inappropriate tools. An auspicious ending indeed!

Chicken thighs: all the points
Czech-made hand crank meat grinder: NONE POINTS.

Ok, so we knew it was missing the end blade bit that chops up the mung so the mung doesn’t totally clog the grinding plate, thus rendering the equipment less a “meat grinder” than a “meat smoosher and regurgitator.” But we could not have foreseen just how vitally important this bit actually was. Nor do I think we could have reasonably expected the small-hole sausage grinding plate to wave the white flag in the face of bones, skin and cartilage.

I mean, who could have anticipated that???

But my real problem is the country of origin. I myself am 25% Czech made, with an additional 25% of my overall parts sourced from Croatia. And knowing my grandparents as I have, I’m a bit saddened that my meat grinder–which cost my mother FIVE WHOLE DOLLARS five years ago (which, adjusting for inflation is, what, like, $5.03 in today’s currency?) could not dig deep and call upon its region of origin to help it get by, with its crank handle firm and proud, using only the parts available to it.

Bubba Eva and Grandma Millie would be so disappointed.

It took us so long to grind 5 thighs that Cal was all:

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And the other critters were like, “That raw chicken does smell delicious–and I do want to shove my whole face in it–but why don’t you just come get me when it’s time. I’ma be napping in the living room. Ok? Good. Peace.”

In Which I Run Around Screaming

2 months ago, we started looking for new grownup furniture.

6 weeks ago, we ordered new grownup furniture.

3 hours ago, most of our new grownup furniture was delivered.

2 hours ago I was maturely napping on our new grownup sofa.

1 hour ago a clumsy orange cat attempted to join me.

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Part of me is all, “mothereff. . .”

Another part of me is like, “I had a whole 2 hours of virgin leather grownup sofa in my life. *HIGHFIVE*”