One reason for dressing well

Theda Bara with a dog, c. 1915. Click for source.
Theda Bara with a dog, c. 1915. Click for source.

“There is one other reason for dressing well, namely that dogs respect it, and will not attack you in good clothes.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Happy Friday!

I think this quote is hilarious, even if it’s definitely untrue in my experience! Eden always seems to know when I’m in my (finally pressed and lint/fur-rolled) work clothes and sees that as a great time to pounce.

For a season last year, I went through a fleeting obsession with fashion and dressing well. But then we got a second German shepherd, and all style aspirations went out the window. I recently canceled my Vogue subscription, finally realizing, “This publication is NOT for me. I come home from work and put on my ‘dog jeans’ and a flannel shirt. I’ve never worn a single designer dress and probably never will.” Maybe people who have tiny dogs can be fashionable, but I don’t think it’s in the cards for me.

1926: Mrs H Bebbington and her Great Dane Hereward of Cubourough at the Croydon Dog Show.
Mrs. H. Bebbington and her Great Dane at the Croydon Dog Show, c. 1926. Click for source.

What do you think? Are fashion sense and dog ownership at odds with one another?

Pup links!

A woman feeds a circle of harlequin Great Danes. Source: LIFE Magazine Archives.

Dog-related links from around the Web this past week:

The Lifetime Costs of Pets. Here’s a sobering infographic about how much, on average, your pet will cost you over the course of its life. Dogs? Get ready to shell out an estimated $25,620! This is a great thing to show people, perhaps, who underestimate the financial commitment of bringing a dog home. Is it too scary, though? What do you think? (Mint Life Blog)

Enrichment. Simple, powerful ways to enrich your dog’s daily life. Great, practical tips! (Raising K9)

Do You Have a “Heart” Breed of Dog? Even though we’re gunning for a German shepherd, I think my “heart” breed of dog will always be the Australian shepherd. How about you? (That Mutt)

Dog Haul. Vanessa shares some great, mini-reviews on some recent products she found and loves for Rufus. (The Rufus Way)

Canine Diabetes: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Diet. A very thorough article about canine diabetes. Good to be in the know about this disease. (The Whole Dog Journal)

Know Your Bo. We’re so used to seeing “Bo” in the headlines and thinking about the Obama’s Portuguese water dog that it’s been jarring, perhaps, to see his name in the headlines as a disgraced Chinese official. Just a funny little news bit. (Daily Intel, NY Mag)

Handling your dog’s car sickness

Photo by Martin Usborne.

My childhood dog, Emma, was not a great car passenger. The car made her extremely anxious and caused her to drool uncontrollably and vomit (even when the car was standing still). At the time, we were all fairly ignorant of any training techniques to mitigate her car sickness/fear. Her vet recommended Dramamine and so we gave her a small dose any time we had to take her anywhere in the car. It mostly worked, but she was always (understandably) woozy whenever we arrived at our destination.

Because of her terror of the car, we didn’t often take Emma anywhere. I always regretted this and have since been hoping for a dog who was an easy passenger. But I don’t know if I’ve actually encountered any dogs who actually enjoyed the car; most of them who are termed “good in the car” seem to express small signs of distress. Bo, for example, totally balks any time we ask him to jump in the Jeep. I always have to pick him up and put him in. Once we start going, he doesn’t get sick, but he does drool more and seem anxious about the whole endeavor. In another instance, I once took a short car ride with my friend Anna and her German shepherd Heidi. Anna told me that Heidi was great in the car, but Heidi flipped out for the duration of the ride. She kept trying to climb into both of our laps (a restraint would have been a good idea) and started crying and screaming like she was in physical pain–but as soon as we opened the door, she was happy-go-lucky and acted like she had no memory of her former panic attack. It was a stressful 10-minute car trip, to say the least.

So, if you have a dog who rides well in the car, how did you do it? Is it something you trained, or did you just get lucky? Do you have any tips for training a dog out of his or her fear of the car? I’m all ears!

Pup links!

Metropolitan Opera's tenor Lauritz Melchior with his wife and their Great Dane, April 1944. Source: LIFE Magazine Archives.

Dog-related links from around the Web this past week:

Paying the Price of a Fat Pet. Just another friendly reminder: Don’t let your pets gets overweight. For their sakes and for your wallet’s sake! (Well Pets, the New York Times)

The Crazy Ones Are Always Beautiful. On loving one’s German shepherd, even though she’s a handful. (Especially compared with those genteel greyhounds…) (Tales and Tails)

Don’t Let Your Leash Hold You Back. Tena shares some advice on how we humans are particularly prone to misuse leashes in training sessions. Good reminders! (Success Just Clicks)

Why Tyler Is My Dog. Moira just adopted this handsome boy, and she finds that they have something in common. Too sweet. (Dog Art Today)

Black-and-White French Film Takes You Inside a Cat’s Daily Torment. OK, this has nothing to do with dogs, but I think it is hilarious and that most cats probably have a similar internal dialogue. (Best Week Ever)

Pup links!

Bring on the big dogs. Source: LIFE Magazine.

A lot of interesting, dog-centric links from around the Web this past week:

Getting the Most from Dog Training Classes. These are really helpful and insightful pointers about how to get more bang for your buck in a training class. I wouldn’t have thought of many of these things, and I’m glad I read this before signing up for a training class. (Oh Behave!)

Surprise! These (pretty adorable) photos of a border collie pup are proof positive that breeds have strong, inborn instincts. (Alta-Pete Farm Tails)

Wrapping Up the 2011 Budgeting Project–Onward to 2012! If you ever wanted a seriously comprehensive glimpse of pet finances, look no further than M.C. and her Bows. This is a really helpful year overview and it’s inspired me to keep track of my own purchases for my future dog. (The House of Two Bows)

Love ’em and Leash ’em Challenge. Take Paws reviews their favorite leashes, many with flexible uses and purposes. (Take Paws)

Finding a Purpose for a Pup. A success story of a sheep-killing German shepherd turned drug-busting police dog. Just proof that every dog has his proper place, if only we’ll give them a chance to find it. (The Bark Blog)

Happy Birthday, Edith Wharton! A collection of photos of one of my favorite American novelists, Edith Wharton, and her beloved dogs. (Dog Art Today)

A Lovely Being: Heavy Petting. Classic starlets in black-and-white with their pooches. (Honey Kennedy)

The Cookie Look. We’ve all seen this intense gaze before. I love these photos; their bated breath and intensely focused desire comes across so clearly. (Paws on the Run)

DIY No-Bake Healthy Treats for You & Your Pooch. These look like pretty gourmet snacks, but I’ll probably try them at some point, because I’m addicted to oatmeal. (Pretty Fluffy)

Bull City Pet Sitting: A Day on the Job. My favorite wedding videographers (one, sister to our much-beloved wedding photographer) created a video to promote a pet sitting business in Durham, North Carolina. It’s such a fun video and they did a wonderful job with it. What a fun promotional tool! (Inkspot Crow Films)

Intermission: A Dog’s View of Dogs Playing. Another great video! Ever wondered what the dog park looks like to your pooch? Here’s an idea, in high-def, artistically rendered glory. (GOOD)

Pup links!

Three danes in a room. Click for source.

Dog-related links from around the Web this week!

What Dogs Want. This might be one of the best things I’ve seen on the Internet. Cartoonist Lisa Hanawalt shows us what dogs really want: To chase pigeons with hot dogs in their beaks. A tennis ball bride. A house made of old fish. (The Hairpin)

Dog Walking Bliss. Karen London reflects on why it’s always good to take a walk. (The Bark)

Is a Half-Hour of Exercise Just Enough to Make a Dog Hyper? Professional dog walker Lindsay shares her experiences and thoughts on the topic that a typical walk may be enough just to rev your dog’s engine–not to wear him out. This makes me feel guilty for thinking my 20-minute walks with the SPCA dogs are enough to sate them for a few hours. If only we all had more time! (That Mutt)

The World of Dog Walking: 5 Surprising Facts. Another professional dog walker shares some interesting bits of new research about walking dogs. For instance, dogs tend to act more aggressively when they are walked by men. Interesting… (The Hydrant)

Dog Photos by Mark Peckmezian. Charming and faded photographs of dogs by photographer Mark Peckmezian. (Miss Moss)

Sleeping Dogs Lie. A collection of photos of sighthounds sleeping in piles. (DesertWindHounds)

The Welcome Decline of the German Shepherd. Quoting from Susan Orlean’s new book, Rin Tin Tin, which I just finished, this blogger reflects on why it might be a good thing that the GSD is not as popular as it once was. (The Hydrant)

I Got to Get Better. One trainer’s ambitious and inspiring list of her goals to become a better dog trainer. (Raising K9)

Diversion Dog. That is one crafty beagle. Have you ever seen a dog pull a stunt like this? I think I have… Just proof that dogs know how to get what they want! (Animals Being Di*ks)

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.