Category Archives: Animals
A while back, I found a fantastic website for dog-lovers. I’m still exploring the contents of the website, but what I really like is the recipes section. I’m not an avid chef at all, but when I do cook, my favorite meals are those that I can share with the whole family, including my dear Molly. I was therefore thrilled to find a number of dog-healthy recipes, some of which would be delicious for human consumption with little or no alteration (I loved the real fruit Popsicles.). So go check out the website, dog lovers.
Gushing over a doggie site isn’t why I’m writing here today. No, the reason that I’m writing is because of a short article that I found on etiquette for dog-owners that really caught my attention. The following is the text of that article in its entirety.
When you think of your dog, you probably view him or her as another member of the family, just a bit furrier. Many dog lovers become so attached to their canine friend that they mistakenly start to believe that everyone is fan of dogs. Sadly, not everyone is as head over heels about your dog as you are, so it is important that you understand the importance of exhibiting proper dog owner etiquette.
Any time that your dog is away from home, or interacting with other people, you need to understand how to practice good social behaviors with the dog. Using good dog owner etiquette simply means that you are giving others’ respect by taking their feelings into considerations in regards to how they feel about your dog.
The following are a few simple tips to keep in mind if you want to maintain a positive relationship between your community and your dog:
- Always keep your dog on a leash when you leave your house or yard. Some dog owners think that they do not need a leash because their dog is always extremely well behaved and would never stray away. Well, the leash is not just for you and your dog; it’s for other people. Some people, especially if they are walking their own dogs, become very uncomfortable around an unfamiliar dog that is not leashed.
- Pick up after your dog. One of the most important ways to show respect to your neighbors is by picking up your dog’s droppings. Always keep plastic bags with you on your walks so that you can keep your neighborhood clean. You can quickly find yourself with an enemy if your neighbor finds your dog’s waste on the bottom of their shoe.
- Try to keep your dog quiet. Of course, dogs will bark, but try to be conscious of those around you. If your dog is outside barking excessively, you might be able to ignore it, but others probably cannot. Try your best to calm the dog and prevent too much barking.
- Don’t take your dog with you everywhere that you go. Your friends or relatives may have invited your over, but that does not necessarily mean they want your dog staying over too. Some people are allergic, or simply do not enjoy your dog as much as you do.
- Try to make sure your dog is being polite during introductions with other dogs, or with people. You might think the dog is cute when it excitedly jumps up to greet someone, or plays with another dog, but that behavior can make other people very uneasy. If your dog is playing too rough with another dog, there could be an injury and a lot of animosity between you and the other dog owner.
If you are unsure about any dog behavior situation, always stop and consider the other person’s feelings. Most importantly, if you feel that you have broken a dog owner etiquette rule, apologize. Apologize sincerely, and take steps to prevent the indiscretion from happening again.”
Can everyone agree that this all seems very reasonable? As someone with a dog, I sure can. It’s all common-sense, responsible behavior, right? This was written by a dog-lover on a site for dog-lovers, and it doesn’t seem the slightest bit surprising, out of place, or controversial.
However, can you imagine reading a similar article written about human children on a typical mommy/parenting blog?
“Your child is your family. It’s natural to be very attached to him or her. However, some parents becomes so attached to their children that they mistakenly believe that everyone else will adore them as well. While your world may revolve around your child, the real world does not. It is therefore important to understand the importance of having proper social etiquette when it comes to your children, at home and in public.
The following are a few tips to help you achieve this:
- Always keep your children under control. This is as much for your child’s sake as it is for the sake of other people. Some people think that they don’t have to maintain control their kids because their kids are “well-behaved” when they really aren’t/can’t be all the time, or the parents have a skewed idea of what proper behavior is and think that other people should see the child’s misbehavior as “cute.” The truth is, members of the public will be bothered by an out-of-control child.
Sometimes parents even fail to pay close attention to their kids and will claim to have “only looked away for a second” if the child is hurt or snatched up. So keeping control of your child is also about that child’s own safety.
- Always pick up after your child. Ensure that your child does not leave toys in neighboring yards or on public property (in parks, on roads, in apartment hallways, etc) and that he/she does not leave excessive messes when dining out in public or when visiting other people’s homes. If your child can not or will not pick up after itself, that responsibility falls on you.
- Keep your child quiet. Of course children make some noise, and most people will understand this, but please try to be considerate of those around you. Screaming, crying, noisy toys, and excessively loud talking can be very irritating and disruptive to other people. Controlling your child’s noise level, or removing them from a given situation if you can not do so, will help keep the peace. This applies to public places as well as your own property if you have close neighbors.
- Don’t take your child with you everywhere you go. You may have been invited for a visit or gathering, but that does not always mean that your child is welcome as well, so please ask first. If you must, politely decline the invitation.
Additionally, there are some places in public such as movie theatres, bars, and certain restaurants, and some dog parks where bringing very young kids along is simply not appropriate. Use good judgment and respect the rules.
- Try to make sure that your child is being polite in interactions with other people as well as with animals. You may think it’s cute when your child screams and runs around in play, or stares at or reaches at strangers, but this might bother other people and, in the wrong environment, may result in an injury (your child may trip someone or be tripped by someone if left to run around in stores, for example.)
If you are unsure about your child’s behavior in a situation, stop and consider the feelings and needs of others around you. If you feel that you have broken a parenting etiquette rule, apologize sincerely and endeavor to prevent repeat incidents. “
If such an article on What Every Parent Needs to Know in Terms of Social Child Behaviors ever was published (on a site the received a sufficient amount of traffic from parents,) I would expect a few cheers from some moms as well as childfree people (whenever we got wind of it,) for sure.
However, there would no doubt also be a strong, vocal backlash. The article would be flooded with comments from defensive mothers decrying ageism and insisting that children are people too (which no one denies but is irrelevant anyway.) Additionally, there will always be some moms who will respond by insisting that people without kids (because no matter who wrote the article, people without kids will be the ones blamed) just “don’t understand,” and should stay home if we don’t want to deal with unruly children (perfect angels, as they will no doubt tell it.)
Within a week there would be at least one angry article written in response, wailing about an imaginary anti-family society out to get moms. Fathers, I would imagine, would be a minority in any discussion on the matter at all as tends to be the case with such things.
I recently ran into the old ethical question that pits the life of a pet and the life of a stranger against each-other. I’ve seen the question before, some time ago, and had forgotten all about it until I came across it again just today. Now I can’t seem to get it out of my head.
The ethical question, if you’re unfamiliar with it, takes many forms. Sometimes the set up is that your dog and a stranger are both drowning and you can only save one or the other. Other times, it’s a burning building with the same problem. I even saw one version where you’re approached by a freaking angel who tells you it will kill one or the other and you must choose which will be spared. Many times though, the question just skips the setup (as it’s irrelevant and people always try to use it to dodge the question anyway) and goes right to the dilemma at hand: If one or the other had to die, which would you save?
I’m inclined to think that anyone who would save a human stranger, be it an adult or a baby (as is the case in some versions of the scenario) really shouldn’t be allowed to have a pet. As I say this while having a pet, then you could, I’m sure, guess that I would save my dog.
Most people who choose to save a human will do so with the reasoning that a human, even a stranger, is more important than a dog. I disagree. People are more inclined to favor our own species, but we do so for emotional reasons. All values that we place on other species are entirely subjective. We tend to favor humans simply because we ARE humans. We have a bias in favor of the species that includes ourselves. If a dog could speak to you, it might very well have a contrary opinion, insisting to you that dogs are actually more valuable.
As for subjective values between species, I’ve certainly never seen dogs wage wars or commit genocide, so I find any claim that humans are better to be just a little bit flawed. And with a population of over 7 billion, humans are hardly an endangered species in need of preservation. I can’t find any objective rationale to favor the human over the dog (or cat, or what have you.) I don’t think that any life form is intrinsically more valuable than any other. All values we place, we place based on our own biases and needs. So I’ll put subjective values on species completely out of the way, ignoring that 1. I am human myself and therefore tend to favor humans, often without being conscious of it, 2. personally happen to prefer the company of dogs over that of humans anyway, and 3. acknowledge that the most horrific acts committed on this planet were (and still are) perpetrated by humans, whereas dogs are comparatively innocent as a species.
With cross-species value out of the way, I’m left with what is, to me, the real question: To whom do I owe the greater level of responsibility? If you’re not an animal lover and don’t understand what I mean, replace “your pet” with “your child” (or a child you are babysitting or is otherwise under your care.) When the scenario is your child vs. a stranger, few people would have trouble with the choice at all – they would pick their child. Sure, people would talk about subjective emotions, their bond and attachment with their child (as well as with their pet) and their personal vested interest in the child’s survival, and I don’t doubt that they mean what they say. But the real factor here is, or at least aught to be, responsibility.
This isn’t just a dog vs. a human scenario, it’s specifically my own dog vs. a human stranger. When I took my dog into my home, I was making a contract with her. She became my responsibility. It is therefore my duty to keep her safe and healthy, to love her and care for her, and to protect her and keep her happy. It doesn’t matter one bit that she’s a dog, she’s my responsibility all the same and in a way that no human being, who I do not even know, is, just as a child would be to a parent.
So I say again, anyone who does not save the pet should not have a pet at all as they do not take their responsibility seriously. Ask anyone who works at an animal shelter, and they will tell you that there is, sadly, no shortage of such irresponsible, speciesist people, who get a hold of animals that they then fail to take care of and renege on their responsibilities to.
This question isn’t just some absurd hypothetical, however. I actually have chosen my dog over other people. If you have pets that you take adequate care of, so do you, whether you’re aware of it or not. I’ve had my dog for less than a year, but I’ve spent quite a lot of money on her already. I’m not sure exactly how much money I’ve spent to her benefit, but it has to be on the order of a few thousand dollars by now. When I paid for Molly’s plane ticket, her veterinary care, her food, her toys, her training classes, my pet deposits, and so on, I was spending a great deal of money on a dog that I could have otherwise spent donating to charities that keep the world’s starving fed or could have gone to medical research and treatment or could have helped people pay their rent to stay off the streets.
Of course, I’m not thinking about any of this as I go through the checkout at the pet-store, but that’s still what I, and every other responsible pet-owner, is doing. People who spend money on their children are doing the exact same thing. How much money have you spent on your animal friends or on your kids? Do you feel guilty about it? You shouldn’t. I don’t.
Sure, I have, to a certain degree, a level of responsibility that I owe to every human being on the planet, whether I know them or not. I don’t deny this. However, it’s not the same kind of personal responsibility that I owe to my dog. I do still try to help my fellow human in any way that I can. I have done volunteer work and donate to charities that aid humans. But at the end of the day, if I had to pick between the two, I’d pick my dog over a stranger every time. Morally, it’s the only acceptable course of action that I see.
Forget candle-lit dinners in snooty restaurants, give me a slightly burnt steak in the woods.
A few days back, my boyfriend, dog, and I ventured into Pike’s National Forest for dinner. It was a decent drive on the dirt paths winding up the mountain, and one we’d taken before. We finally stopped near the top of one very high hilltop, deep in the woods, where few people go.
We set up camp, including a tent I purchased second-hand from Rocky Mountain Recyclers. Mostly, we wanted to test it out. It set up quickly (and later, came down quickly) and appeared as though it would serve us well. Boyfriend sprayed it down with a water-resistant coating to protect it, while it was up.
Although we brought the tent and set it up, we had no intention of actually staying the night. We only wanted to test out a few things, and see what we might need later. For one thing, we didn’t have a bear canister, or any means really of avoiding attracting animals. As a result, we didn’t bother to bring a number of things we’d typically need for an overnight stay (although we do have emergency packs, just in case.)
Setting up a fire was easy. The boyfriend had called the ranger station earlier that day to confirm that there was no fire ban and find out what rules were in effect. The woman on the phone said that it was preferable that we use an existing fire site (not necessarily an artificial fire pit, but somewhere people have burned before to avoid further environmental impact.) There was a large ash pile near where we set up. It looked like someone had a large bonfire there. But there was too much ash for that site to be any good for cooking, and it was full of shell casings and broken glass.
However, we quickly found another fire site nearby where it looked as though someone had buried a small fire pit. It was perfect. We cleared the layer of dead plant matter, made a rock circle, and collected dead, dry pine needles for tinder. There was some trouble getting the needles to stay lit. It was probably an oxygen issue. We’ll try making a teepee of small twigs and placing needles around it next time to encourage more air flow. This time, however, I took some dryer lint from my emergency kit (I had earlier poured a very small amount of lantern oil on the lint before packing it) and placed it under the needle bundle. It worked quiet well and we were off. We had no trouble keeping the fire going after that, as there was no shortage of dead, dry wood about. Boyfriend employed his ax, but I found little need for it.
Once the fire had been burning for a while and we had some good coals, we set up my small, metal, campfire grill. This was actually the first time that I’ve been able to use it since I bought it. It was sturdy where it stood, but next time, I think we’ll sink the legs into the dirt a bit more. The steaks cooked beautifully (the boyfriend saw to that.) I like mine juicy on the inside, and crispy on the outside, and that’s exactly what I got (my steak was even on fire a little bit.)
I tried a few experiments. Before we left home, we prepared two baked potatoes wrapped in heavy-duty tin foil. We placed these directly on the coals. It was taking forever to cook. At one point, we put the foil bundles on top of the grill, but then quickly moved them away from direct flame (a few sticks I placed earlier caught larger than I intended) when we remembered the relatively-low melting point of aluminum (about 1200F, if I recall.) It might have worked better if our tin foil bundles hadn’t leaked. I had to keep adding water. Next time, I think we’ll double-layer the foil. Still, what we eventually got was delicious even if the potatoes were a bit firm and bacon pieces a bit burnt.
The lazy bannock did not work so well. Somehow, I got it in my head that I could just use biscuit dough. I tried some wrapped around a stick, and some rolled into balls and placed on the grill. It all just melted.
My last experiment involved an aluminum water bottle from the dollar store. I wanted to see if I could boil water without melting a cheap water bottle. The outside of the container did blacken, but didn’t melt. I was able to safely boil water without any problem. Next time, I think I might be able to boil the water farther away from the fire to avoid charring the bottle. In any case, it’s nice to know that, in an emergency, I can boil water in a sturdy container that only cost me one dollar.
Molly was pleased with the whole trip, it seemed. I placed a blanket on the ground for her, and put food in water in her folding doggy dishes. She was more than happy to take our leftover potatoes and steak. A few times, she wandered a little ways into the woods, which worries us as there could be dangerous animals around, but she always returned to us quickly when called. She doesn’t much like to be alone anyway, and was probably just following a smell and didn’t realize how far she’d gotten. Eventually, she happily settled on her blanket.
As it grew later, the temperature began to drop. My boyfriend wandered over to where he’d rested his gear against a tree, and retrieved his sweater. Just as he pulled the sweater over his head, Molly stood and growled. She lowered he head and body slightly and her hair stood on end. She crept forward slowly, towards the direction where my boyfriend was standing. Immediately, my boyfriend grabbed his shotgun and aimed it into the woods. I flipped the knife I was holding. We still aren’t sure if Molly saw or heard something threatening in that direction, or if she was just growling at the boyfriend because something about the sweater bothered her (she once threw a barking fit the first time she saw the boyfriend with shaving cream on.) We assumed the worst and were on high alert for a bear or mountain lion or possibly a hostile human, possibly attracted by the food or by us. However, we never saw anything.
As it began to grow dark and cloudy, with the temperature dropping and with starting, followed by some light rain, we packed up quickly, fearing a storm. I was amazed at how quickly we got everything back together, even though we didn’t really have much. The fire was thoroughly out (Boyfriend poured something like two gallons of water on it, and it was never a big fire anyway,) and our tent was down, our food and chairs were stowed in the Pathfinder in no time. Then we drove down the mountain, pleased with how well the roof lights my boyfriend had installed were working.
It was a smoky, dirty, a bit of work, a bit out of the way, imperfect, exciting, and fun outing. It was a great way to enjoy dinner.
Yesterday, my family ventured to Bear-Creek Dog Park. We’d been there a few times before, and quite enjoy it. The park is HUGE. It has an area for large dogs and small dogs, as many parks do. There are clear areas, wooded areas, and a mountain-runoff creek running through for the dogs to play in. There are free donated balls is a basket, a bin of shopping bags for owners to have no excuse not to clean up after their dogs, drinking fountains for humans and dogs, a restroom with a lockout for dogs to wait in, benches, and picnic tables.
It’s nice to bring Molly out. She certainly enjoys the change of pace. Being outside is fun for her, there’s a lot to see and smell and the socialization with humans and dogs is good for her. As for myself, I enjoy seeing Molly have a good time. It’s also nice for me to get to a park, and one with so few children (no screaming!) It’s fun to look around, identifying different dog breeds is if I was at a car show and pleased to see models that I like. I get to see and play with more dogs than I could ever take in to my own home, and that’s quite nice. The other owners have nice chit chat about our dogs, training, care, and so on. Really, a good time is had by all.
Yesterday, it was hot. Whereas other days she either avoided the creek, or tried to cross it by hopping on rocks and avoiding getting her paws wet, she spent most of her day in the water yesterday. All we had to do to keep her entertained was throw her Frisbee in the water and she would jump happily jump right in after it.
We noticed that Molly is very non-confrontational. If another dog so much as came near her toy, she’d approach slowly to see if the other dog would take it. If another dog did take it, she wouldn’t try to grab it but would simply follow the dog around and wait for the dog to drop it so she could get it back. There was one dog in particular who would take Molly’s Frisbee, and then trot away from her casually. The owner said that dog is probably not really interested in the Frisbee but just likes to be chased and has actually learned to run slower just so other dogs could keep up. As for chasing, Molly was happy to oblige.
At one point, another dog a bit larger than Molly invited her to play by wagging his tail and bowing, but also by barking and growling, which Molly evidently found intimidating. When the other dog would bark, Molly would run over to either myself or my boyfriend for safety, but wouldn’t bark or growl back. The barking dog simply found someone else to play with.
The three of us then wandered the huge park, playing fetch as we went along. By the time we had circled the park and returned to our car, Molly was already mostly dry. Happily, we use a dog tarp in the back seat of our Pathfinder, so a moist and slightly muddy dog isn’t a problem, although we really should have brought a towel (Douglas Adams would be displeased to know we forgot one that day.)
It was a fun day. We’re always smiling at that park as we just have a great time. Best of all, it’s free. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon with our dear Molly.
Yesterday, my family hit the Waldo Canyon Loop Trail. We hadn’t been able to go hiking in quite a while, due to conflicting schedules and other plans, so it was nice to get out.
My Boyfriend found the trail using AllTrails, and downloaded the map, which is a nice feature of the app. We had an embarrassing amount of trouble finding the trailhead, as the dropped pin on Google maps was about a mile off. After we passed the dropped pin, we pulled into a small parking lot on the side of the highway to turn around. After driving around a bit, unable to find the place, we realized that parking lot we turned around in was actually our trail head – doh!
Once we got going, and hiked far enough for the highway to be out of earshot, we quite liked the trail. We enjoyed the thick woods as well as the scenic views. The trail itself seemed well-maintained, which I surely appreciated. There was evidence that a tree had fallen onto the trail, but had been cut and moved out of the way. Further down, there was a nice bench made of polished logs made by a local scout troop
This was the first hike that Molly wore her dog backpack for. It fits a bit awkward on her as she’s too large for a small, but a bit too petite for the medium-sized pack that I bought. Still, it didn’t seem bother her at all, and she loves putting it on as she knows it means going somewhere fun (we’ve had her wear it to the dog park to get used to it.) It was really nice not to have to unpack ourselves to give Molly food and water when she needed it, she had that herself. In one side of her pack, she had her water, on the other side, she had her food and a collapsible bowl with compartments for food and water. You can carry your own things now, dog!
Sadly, as we had a late start, we weren’t able to complete the trail and had to turn back early. It was getting dark by the time we made it back to our car. It would be nice to return to this trail another time.