Pup links!

A meditative mutt. Photo by Winnie Au.

Dog-related links from around the Web this week:

Your Complete Guide to the Diamond Pet Food Recalls. If you read any pet blogs at all, you’ve surely already heard about the big fiasco with Diamond Pet Food’s recall of a whole host of kibbles infected with salmonella. I was dismayed to read about it, because I had kind of decided to feed our future dog Taste of the Wild, which is one of the brands included in this voluntary recall. Were any of you affected by the recall? Will you be switching brands because of it? (Poisoned Pets)

Lure and Clicker Training to Teach Sit: Advantages and Disadvantages. Patricia McConnell discusses the pros and cons of using either a lure or a clicker to teach a dog how to sit. She also wonders if anyone is a combination trainer, perhaps using a mix of both techniques? (The Other End of the Leash)

Dogs Are Born to Run. Interesting citation of a study that claims that dogs, like people, can experience a “runner’s high.” (The Bark blog)

Four Easy Ways to Eliminate Tag Jingle. Some tips and tags to prevent the constant jingling of tags. (*Although I sometimes like noisy dog tags, in that they can always tell me where the dog is in the house…) (Unleashed Unlimited)

Ted Recommends Stagbars. Ted the long-haired chihuahua likes these particular stagbar chews and thoughtfully explains why. (Tinkerwolf)

Film: Badlands (1973). M.C. reviews Terrence Malick’s beautiful film Badlands and the dogs who play a role in it. I’m looking forward to seeing this myself, as it’s one of my husband’s all-time favorites. (The House of Two Bows)

The Long and the Short of it. I love these old-fashioned/woodblock-print-like key fobs and tags, all printed with a variety of classic breeds; would make a nice gift for a particular breed devotee. (Under the Blanket)

Rosie’s Bloopers. This is the goofiest pointer ever! These photos are hilarious. (Paws on the Run)

His Face Every Time I Catch a Fish. This is… so good. This man’s hound makes the exact same expression of curious bewilderment whenever there is a fish in the boat. (Full Pelt)

OK, and now, one of my new favorite animal Tumblrs is Animals Talking in All Caps. (It’s exactly what it sounds like.) Some of my favorites that include dogs:

WOULD YOU GUYS STOP ARGUING ABOUT POLITICS
AUGH! NO, NO! THIS IS GIN!
SEVEN YOUNG LADIES STAND BEFORE ME…

Breed biases: When people judge your dog

Click for source.

So, I don’t even have a dog yet, but I’ve already felt judgment from people about him or her. Crazy, right? When people ask what kind of dog I want, and when I answer that we’re planning on adopting a German shepherd, I always brace myself for this frequent reaction: “Ew, really? Why? They’re so MEAN!” It doesn’t happen every time, but it happens enough to be noticeable.

I also bridle when people express astonishment that I work with and deeply enjoy the company of pit bulls and pit mixes at the SPCA. “But they’re so vicious! I could never be around one of those.” This usually launches me into a 10-minute speech about how pits are unfairly judged and how they are some of the most cuddly, affectionate, and sweet dogs that I ever play with at the shelter.

I try not to get too riled up about it, because the fact is that people have breed biases. I have them, too (although not for the same reasons that people judge GSDs and pits; more in the, I could never live with one myself way). I also understand where some of these breed stereotypes originated. Both German shepherds and pit bulls have been misused by humans for terrible, terrible things in the past (see: Nazis in the Holocaust, Southern police forces during the Civil Rights Movement, dog baiting, and dog fighting, just to name a few). I understand where these negative reactions come from, but they are still dismaying.

It makes me want to try all the harder to raise an upstanding, well-trained, and gentle ambassador for a breed–for whatever breed we end up with. This is notably easier to do if you have a breed like a golden retriever, who are universally loved and lovable in return. But I think there really is something to be said for generous, sweet, and intelligently raised German shepherds, dobermans, rottweilers, pit bulls, chihuahuas, and terriers. They change people’s minds and break down their judgments faster than anything else.

Do you have a dog whose breed or breed mix is often unfairly judged? How do you handle it graciously?

The owning of my first dog

Edith Wharton and her chihuahuas. Source: Elsi.tumblr.com

“The owning of my first dog made me into a conscious, sentient person, fiercely possessive, anxiously watchful, and woke in me that long ache of pity for animals, and for all inarticulate beings, which nothing has ever stilled.”

Edith Wharton

Hoping that I’ll perhaps have the same experience that Wharton had… Happy Friday, everyone!

Review: Dog’s Best Friend

Dog's Best Friend, Mark Derr

Dog’s Best Friend is perhaps the first “academic” dog book I’ve read (it was actually published by the University of Chicago Press, first in 1997, with the second edition coming out in 2004). The book is a hefty survey of the historical relationship between dogs and humans, spanning from the dawn of time to the present day. I picked it up from the library, because I recognized the author’s name from a 2006 piece he published in the New York Times, lambasting Cesar Millan for the incredible damage he has done to Americans’ perceptions of dogs and dog training.

The title seems to be a bit of a joke, for if anything, this book highlights how poorly we often treat dogs. Although humans are responsible for the incredible evolutionary success of the dog as a species, modern people have not done very well by the domestic dog.

As an example of humankind’s mistreatment of the dog, Derr devotes an entire chapter to the atrocities of the AKC and purebred breeders. He explores the genetic and behavioral problems we have introduced to dogs through vigorous inbreeding, purely for the sake of creating an animal that pleases the eye or tickles our fancy. Derr also writes extensively about the shady and often elitist practices of the AKC and other breed registry clubs, who are inclined to consider dog shows a “sport” for the wealthy to create dogs with no regard for the dog’s physical or mental well being.

Derr himself has two Catahoula leopard dogs and his preference for “primitive” or unregistered dog breeds is apparent throughout the book. I enjoyed reading about his adventures in the American wilderness–often in the South–with people who still bred and raised dogs for distinct purposes, but did so without any regard for bloodline or breed purity. If the dog can hunt, it is a hunting dog, regardless of its parentage, and so forth. It’s a world that seems very far removed from my own, and yet I often see many of these types of dogs (often indistinguishable hound crosses) at our local SPCA.

I liked the book and yet it was very unsettling to me. I found myself very swayed by Derr’s arguments about the absurdity of the AKC and the ridiculous promulgation of breeds who would, if left to nature, quickly die out (for example, bulldogs, other brachycephalic breeds, and most toy dogs, who would not last if not artificially sustained by humans). The main point that I got from this book was that we should not seek dogs who are on either extreme of the size spectrum. Both Great Danes and chihuahuas are bred to an unhealthy extreme of size. Dogs should not only be able to live six or seven years, because their hearts cannot sustain their enormous size. Likewise, dogs should not be bred so small that they develop severe anxiety issues and cannot protect themselves from the weather.

Derr’s point, again and again, is that we need to be called to a higher standard with how we raise and breed dogs. Have some respect for the dog’s well being, lifespan, and genetic soundness. Don’t breed dogs just because you think they look funny or pretty if that breeding makes them unable to live a long and healthy life. This argument is why Derr himself has repeatedly turned to “unregistered” and largely unrecognizable local dog breeds; the dogs are purportedly healthier and saved from the reaches of the breed enthusiasts. Essentially, Dog’s Best Friend raises a lot of the difficult ethical questions that we must face if we are people who, like myself, are inclined to desire purebreds.

Pup links!

Queen Elizabeth and her corgi, Susan. Source: the3goobers.blogspot.com

Fun and thought-provoking dog-related links from around the Web this week…

Top 10 Myths about Dogs. I’m certainly ready for these myths to disappear from the general public’s perception! (A Place to Love Dogs)

Puppy Mill Expose on HBO. This looks like a great film. I hope it reaches the public, too. The fear is that it would only be seen by those who are already well aware of the tragedy of puppy mills. Let’s hope that’s not the case. (The Bark blog)

Enzo & Hughie. A cute series of photographs of these tiny canine BFFs, by our wedding photographer, Meredith Perdue. (Meredith Perdue)

I Love Dooce and Her Dogs. I have been reading Heather Armstrong’s incredible blog for years now and have always delighted in the stoic Chuck. Lindsay from The Hydrant collects a few photos of Chuck’s best. (The Hydrant)

What You See… The pack of dogs from Wootube always seem to be having the best time. What a fun and energetic set of photographs, too! (Wootube)

Lacamas: Day One. Speaking of another pack of high-energy dogs… I love these photos of the border collies like sharks in a field. Such expert stalkers. (BCxFour)

Day 4: Sharing. A sweet photo of two new corgi mamas feeding their puppies side by side–and their breeder’s story of how they get along beautifully together and happily feed each other’s pups. Motherhood! (Ruffly Speaking)

Shio the Watchdog. I feel like Shio has excellent posture. (Shio the Shiba)

So Near and Yet So Far. A variation of “The Look,” this time with a greyhound. (ShutterHounds)

Hipster Dogs Don’t “Do” Affection. So true. These two look way too cool for kisses and cuddling. (Pets Who Want to Kill Themselves)

Strange Bedfellows. Funny, but this just confirms why I have no desire to ever get a chihuahua… (Animals Being Di*ks)

Pup links!

A very happy terrier mix, as captured by the great Elliott Erwitt.

Canine-centric links from around the Web this week…

A Sheep Herder in Chihuahua’s Clothing. This adoptable chihuahua in Battersea started watching her border collie friends work the sheep and decided she’d have a go at it. (Pawesome)

Reasons to Buy a Dog vs. Rescue a Dog. A thoughtful and helpful post from a dog trainer on why she tends to rescue rather than buy dogs. I think she does a great job of showing both options without casting judgment on either side. (That Mutt)

10 Awesome Screenshots from One Dog Food Commercial. Totally hilarious. (Best Week Ever)

Friday Fetch: Blink Leash. I also have an obsession with rope leashes, so I’m just going to keep posting these wherever I find them. (Ammo the Dachshund)

My, My, What Have We Here? A salacious romance between a corgi and his cat. (Cute Overload)

The Difference Between Cats and Bassets. A meditation on the distinction between cats and basset hounds. (The Pioneer Woman)

Holy Smoke. Lovely linen dog figurines from the company Holy Smoke. (Under the Blanket)

Man Regrets Inventing the Labradoodle. Hear, hear. Anyone who creates a “designer” mixed breed should probably carry some guilt about that decision. (NY Daily News)

Best Jobs for Dogs: Wet Nose Tutors. I love these reading programs and I’m seriously considering training my future dog to participate in one. This article mentions Dog Tales, a program in Newport News, Virginia. I wonder if there’s a similar project in my area… (Grouchy Puppy)

Irish Wolfhounds at Play. I love the photos of these loping giants in the grass. (Finnegan’s Paw Print)

Haddie. Our wonderful wedding photographer is also a celebrated pet photographer. Here are some beautiful shots of her new neighbor, a totally adorable and fluffy puppy named Haddie. To die for! (Meredith Perdue)