Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Dogs in The Times

Man, did the New York Times just have one of those "I need to hug something fluffy" days? No fewer than three pet-related articles in the Tuesday 10/2/07 edition.

Most notable was this article about how some Manhattan dog runs are starting to develop loyal audiences of people who either wish they had a dog, or miss their own dogs terribly.

The Rocky Run does not get much of an audience most days, though there are actually benches just outside the run that face towards it, and are ideal for the purpose of observation. Of course, we're in a slightly less crowded area of Manhattan than the Washington Square Park run. Just a touch more remote, and most of the passersby tend to be joggers or are otherwise intent on getting somewhere else. We do get the occasional visitor or two, people without dogs who are coming in to say hi to somebody, or just want to pet the dogs. We do not have groupies. Unless those homeless guys who camp out along the Riverside Drive benches count as groupies.

Our primary observers tend to be people with dogs who for a variety of reasons are not coming in, but want their dogs to see other dogs playing with each other. I'm not sure you can socialize a dog by having him watch other dogs socialize, but I guess it's worth a try--maybe dogs who are afraid of other dogs can be desensitized over time. And maybe for really dominant dogs who just can't go into a run, it's still therapeutic for them to see and smell their own kind, and this is a relatively safe way to do it (as long as they don't stand right by an entrance gate). I still hate seeing them look in longingly, while the other dogs play. Even though in some cases, it's just as well their longings remain unfulfilled. In those cases, a lot of training and rehabilitation under carefully controlled circumstances is what's called for, not just passive observation.

There was also this article about 'The Ambivalent Bond' between people and their pets (personally, I always thought The Ambivalent Bond was Timothy Dalton, but never mind that now). Some interesting and occasionally insightful musings in this one, if a tad obvious at points. Speaking as somebody who lost a dog he really loved, but has somehow to date avoided having a human he felt a deep bond with die on him, I don't know if the comparison between the grief you experience over a pet's death and a human loved one's death is valid or not--it sounds plausible, but I'm in no hurry to find out, though I will, eventually.

And finally, a Golden Retriever got an order of protection from a court of law. While I think the idea of legal protection for pets from people who would want to harm them is long overdue, this particular case seems more about the conflict between the people, and using the dog as an additional means of keeping the ex-wife away from the new wife. My experience with Goldens is that the last thing they'd ever contemplate, even if they could comprehend the legalities involved, is getting a judge to order people to stay away from them. But I guess it makes more sense than a law allowing people to get an order of protection from Golden Retrievers. Who just would not be able to grasp that 100 yards away at all time thing at all. In my experience, it's a major challenge keeping that breed one yard away, particularly if you've got food, or a tennis ball. But that's not a problem for me. They can penetrate my exclusion zone any time they want. I'll get a court order to confirm that preference, if need be.

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