Friday, August 26, 2011

Fido Says, “READ!”

Not everyone who deals with animals professionally has the animals’ best interests at heart. This has been pointed out to me repeatedly in my reading of late.

In several magazine articles and essays, I met ostensibly reputable dog trainers who horrified their customers by altering canine behavior through negative and even sadistic techniques.

In Oogy I met an emergency veterinarian who bandaged only one wound on a bait puppy covered with them—didn’t even bother cleaning the white pup of the blood splattered across its body. Because the canine had no guardian, the vet did just enough to cover his ass until handing off the patient to the SPCA. (I’ve wondered if that vet felt a twinge of remorse after the book was published.)

On the BADRAP Blog I met a certified ethologist employed by the State of Michigan to determine whether some dogs from a neglect case were of sound temperament. Contrary to what other animal behaviorists and trainers who had worked with the dogs observed, the ethologist (based on a draconian test and, perhaps, breed bias) determined the dogs to be aggressive and unadoptable. Her decision was a death sentence for the pooches.

We should be able to trust the specialists and professionals who are schooled in treating our animal companions. But we can’t. We must remain vigilant on behalf of our pets. To know whom we can trust requires us to stay informed about research and trends in food, health, training, and pet products. To know what’s best for our pets, we have to know our pets better than anyone else.

If you have a pooch, I urge you to read Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know by Alexandra Horowitz. You’ll see the world from your dog’s point of view, realize your dog’s true physical and mental capabilities, and be able to communicate clearly with each other. Once you truly understand your animal, you’ll know when a trainer or vet or alternative medicine practitioner is wrong for the creature and you’ll act accordingly on your pet’s behalf.

Yes, Fido is thrilled to live with YOU, to be fed and watered and exercised and played with by YOU. But Fido would also like to be understood and protected by you. And for that, you need information.

Read, please … for Fido’s sake.

[Pics of dogs reading from Dog Blog with Beth (top) and Beef Casserole for the Dog’s Soul.]


elke said...

Well said.
Maybe the only way to develop a moral compass is by reading the books you find recommended in well written blogs.

C. J. Jackson said...

Thank you for visiting, Elke. I'm quite worried about our current moral compass--especially where it concerns animals. I would like to see humane education integrated throughout our school curricula here in the U.S. It's not a fix, but it would be a start. I see you're in the education field. Any thoughts on the matter?

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