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The upcoming inauguration of President Elect, Donald Trump, has me thinking about many things, including dogs (I’ll get to that in a moment).
For the record, I did not vote for Trump. He doesn’t impress me as possessing the character traits I value in a leader. That said, I’m not one to assert the “Not my president” message. I value our collective history, those who fought to build our country and the rights I often take for granted too much to display disrespect for the process and those who do feel he is the right choice.
Donald Trump was elected and will hold office. History will judge him based on what is or isn’t achieved in the coming years. I will simply continue on. I’ll involve myself in things that matter to me and do what I can in my community to be part of the solutions I’d like to see.
What I have been most frustrated by during this election is societal behavior in general. In the media, on social networks and often, even in personal conversations. The growing trend of making sweeping generalizations accompanied by rigid, emotional judgement.
We live in a time when finding information is easier than ever, yet we seemingly only accept the bits of it that coincide with our own already held conclusions. We prefer to stay comfortably entrenched in our sense of righteous indignation rather than take a deep breath and step into another’s shoes for a tour of what it might be like in their world.
And that brings me to dogs or more accurately “dog people”.
It seems a whole lot of dog people have strong, all or nothing opinions on dogs, on their training and certainly on training tools. I received an email recently that contained one persons view of bark collars and the people that would choose to utilize such a tool.
Here are a few of the key sentences from that exchange:
“This is an absolutely cruel and inhumane device.”
“Anyone who loves dogs would never use this device.”
“Anyone who uses this product is cruel and shouldn’t have a dog in the first place…”
While I agree there may absolutely be situations where those statements hold true, I also know that there are equal or greater number of situations where they bear no resemblance to the truth.
Let’s take a deep breath and examine these sentences that are filled with strong emotion and absolutes.
First off, the word, inhumane. According to one definition, inhumane is defined as; without compassion for misery or suffering; cruel: The example given for using it in a sentence was; confining wild horses is inhumane.
That sentence certainly stirs some emotion. It sort of makes me want to say; “damn straight! Confining wild horses IS inhumane!!”
But then again, maybe the use of emotion laden adjectives should always be subject to examining context. Would confining wild horses be considered inhumane if they were rounded up and confined temporarily to get them out of range of an encroaching wild fire?
Is it true that anyone who uses a bark collar is cruel and should not have dog in the first place?
Well, yes, I would agree, in the context that said user did nothing with their dog in terms of exercise or training and simply strapped the device on in an attempt to shut up noise that is coming from the dog as a result of boredom, isolation and pent up frustration. In my book of judgement, that person is an asshat. They should find the dog a better home and not get another one unless they can develop awareness of how to meet a dogs physical, mental and emotional needs.
But what about the dog that is well exercised, well cared for, and well trained but has a low threshold for tolerating noise or surrounding activity when away from the influence of their owner?
I’ve used bark collars on e-stim conditioned dogs over the years. Sometimes it was the dog wearing the collar that benefited the most and sometimes it was the dogs adjacent to the barking offender that got more relief.
When you run a boarding kennel or other high volume dog situation, barking is an expected part of the environment. However, if a dog cannot settle even after adequate exercise and being offered toys and chew bones to keep him entertained, the options for establishing a calming environment become limited. Sometimes segregation can work and a dog will settle with a bit more space between himself and the others, but sometimes he won’t. One thing that is certain is that constant, repetitious, non-stop barking is not good for the offender nor the others subjected to the ruckus.
And while the idea that extra staff could be devoted to the care of one special needs dog sounds ideal, it isn’t always possible. Sometimes more practical management solutions have to suffice.
One outcome that has resulted from the proper use of bark collars in my facility is that stress levels are reduced for the dogs and for the humans. That is win/win.
The key of course, is proper use. Let’s assume not everyone using a bark collar is an asshat.
Some words from a former President, George W. Bush seem appropriate to keep in mind when we are deciding on how strongly to define our opinions of others.
“Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions.”
Whether it is political affiliation or dog training ideologies, I think we all benefit if we stop being so judgmental and get back to the idea of stepping into the other persons shoes before making blanket statements.
Although, I will admit, I wouldn’t mind if Donald got a small zing every time he tried to access his Twitter account. 😉