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The Rise of Dog Identity Politics

 
 
Reply Wed 27 Jan, 2010 06:26 pm
Dogs are increasingly rootless souls, country bumpkins in city apartments. But is a vegan pup still an animal?

By John Homans Published Jan 24, 2010

http://images.nymag.com/news/features/dogs100201_1_250.jpg
The author's dog, Stella (who does eat meat).
(Photo: Jill Greenberg)
If Stella is aware of the forces sweeping her world, she shows no sign. My dog is on the floor in front of the couch, ignoring the kittens we adopted recently, partly to entertain her while we’re at work. Her big brown soulful eyes are tilted up at me in constant implicit question.

Stella is an elegant creature, with a high-gloss black coat and the runway model’s trick of looking simultaneously gorgeous and ridiculous. She is not, as a friend says, an intellectual, though I hasten to add, as any parent would, that she’s of above-average intelligence, having learned the basic commands in the space of a week. Not that, as an excitable animal in seemingly perpetual puppyhood, she always follows them. While highly vocal, with a booming baritone bark and a complex secret language of whines and growls, she’s not notably articulate. There’s usually a thought-bubble hovering over her, sometimes describing an unambiguous desire"“Want chicken!”"but often containing murkier information. The closed captioning doesn’t really work very well. Is she depressed? Angry at us for taking her back from the country? Jealous of the fact that the cats get to climb on the furniture? She’s staring at me, waiting for me to figure it out.

Read the rest of the article: The Rise of Dog Identity Politics -- New York Magazine
http://nymag.com/news/features/63232/#ixzz0drW64zUX
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Type: Discussion • Score: 7 • Views: 2,395 • Replies: 23
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Jan, 2010 06:57 pm
Good teaser . . .
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Jan, 2010 07:45 pm
Interesting article; the Seamus Heaney quote and the John Updike quote are memorable to me..
tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Jan, 2010 07:59 pm
@ossobuco,
New York Magazine is one of my favorite weekly reads.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 27 Jan, 2010 08:06 pm
@tsarstepan,
I don't see the magazine any more now that I live in the proverbial and literal desert. (Uh oh, maybe I'll check it out online.) I don't see the New Yorker either, but it's one of my luxuries to subscribe.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Wed 27 Jan, 2010 10:02 pm
I'm almost afraid to respond to what I think about the article as I was once throughly verbally beaten once on here for suggesting that my dog was happiest when he was treated like a dog.
tsarstepan
 
  2  
Reply Wed 27 Jan, 2010 11:04 pm
@boomerang,
I thought the author's tone of the article a bit patronizing. But I don't plan on being judgmental boomerang so you're not going to get any flack from me. Smile
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Jan, 2010 06:36 am
@boomerang,
When sweet little Cleo (see picture at left) is sitting smiling at me, and reaches down to lick her own butt, i find it hard to think of her in any other light.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Jan, 2010 07:19 am
@tsarstepan,
I haven't finished reading the article, but I certainly do notice (including in myself) daffier and daffier pet relationships!

I was enormously amused recently when I referred a work colleague to my vet for her new kitten.

We have two utterly besotted new kitten owners at work.

I love it, because I get enormous vicarious joy from their kitten tales, and because I can now talk cat a bit at work.

Anyway, this kitten was dumped at a pet shop back door with its litter mates.

Sadly, the owner doesn't USE the back door, so all the other kittens died, and Momo was found nearly starved and nursed back to health, and then sold to my colleague.

With such a start, he has enormously engaged the hearts of all who hear about him, and his owner wanted a vet who would take time to talk to her about any special food etc. that he might need because of his having starved.

Now, my vet is (I think) genuinely besotted by animals, but her practice is clearly very well planned to take advantage of the owners' besottedness! Her staff greet every animal by name. She RINGS you to find out how the animal is! She coos and caresses every animal.

Colleague emerged from the visit very happy.

I was amused because, when she talked about it, she told me how the vet had told her what a special cat Momo is.

Her expression as she did so was one of the most complex I have ever seen.

I could see her realising, as she said it, that the vet must tell EVERY owner their animal is special.

So there was great pride, with a dawning embarrassment about being taken in, at the same time as she was amused about that, and then a kind of stubborn pride took over as she determined that Momo WAS special, and the vet had clearly recognized this, and damn anyone who was going to laugh at her!!!!!

It was very funny and very sweet.

The gaze and oxyctosin thing in the article was utterly fascinating.

I am a sucker for Siamese, and one thing I love about them is their gaze.

They love looking into your eyes, and will spend ages doing so, often conversing both with the eyes and vocally while doing so. You can send a Siamese into ecstasy just by an eye conversation.

Now, a well socialised moggie will do that sometimes, (or maybe often???) but every Siamese I have had does so





dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Jan, 2010 07:20 am
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:

When sweet little Cleo (see picture at left) is sitting smiling at me, and reaches down to lick her own butt, i find it hard to think of her in any other light.


That's a MAJOR compliment in Dog, I think. She loves you so much you remind her of her bum.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Jan, 2010 07:32 am
That's more or less how i interpret it, too. Her highest order compliment, though, is to fart in one's presence. She has cleared the second floor that way on more than one occasion.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Jan, 2010 07:48 am
@dlowan,
Quote:
These obsessive canine diet and training regimens are precise analogs of the little dictatorships that parents enforce over their children.


That's interesting too!!!

When I read some of the dog training discussions here it makes me think about how much fun a dog might be for a control freak. Not that I am knocking good training...but I sometimes get the chills reading about the regimens described.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Jan, 2010 08:21 am
@tsarstepan,
Just finished the article. Interesting! I enjoyed it.

The stuff about red states exporting rescue animals to blue states was interesting -- I really didn't think that there weren't enough to go around, anywhere. I think that even though I'm actually in a blue state (as of now anyway, red before that), the divide is more coastal vs. non-coastal states. Patiodog's stories (from Wisconsin, also blue now I believe) really don't make me think there aren't enough rescue animals to go around there either.

I was also surprised that spay + neuter programs might be selecting for not-nice animals.

A general thought I've had already that this article made me think of again is that while I really want a dog, and hope to get one, I wonder about what I'll do if the dog gets sick. (And unless something very sudden happens, the dog most likely would get sick.) I've never owned my own animal, just had animals when I lived at home, and my dad would euthanize if vet's bills threatened to go beyond a couple of hundred dollars. I thought that was wrong at the time. I'm not sure how willing I am to take it in the other direction though -- the $14,000 bill for a weekend that still ended up with a dead dog is sobering. I'd like to think that I could figure it out, but the culture is much different now than when I last had animals (~20 years ago).
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Jan, 2010 08:31 am
One problem with the vet bills comes from the fact that people are willing to spend that kind of money. But another comes from the fact that so many people want "designer dogs," they want popular breeds, while shelters all over the country kill unwanted dogs and cats every day. What the vets euphemistically refer to as "All American mix"--i.e., mutts--are likely to have fewer problems with inbred diseases, and may well have better immune systems. It just appalls me how many animals are killed each year because nobody wants them, while unscrupulous breeders abuse juvenile dogs in puppy mills because of the public's demand for specific breeds which are currently popular.
Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Jan, 2010 08:39 am
@sozobe,
You have to figure a dog will cost you an average of $16,000 over the course of it's lifetime. Cats a little less. That just includes a decent diet and recommended health care. I'm sure all my dogs have cost that and more. It was never an issue of saving an old dog from a serious illness, but rather medication to make their lives better for both of us. I had a dog that was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 3 ($85 per month medication) and another dog with bladder control issues ($42 per month) from being spayed too young. Neither life threatening and controllable with drugs, so as an owner you take responsibility and pay the cost. I also had a dog that recently needed a large cyst removed - $500. The vet actual asked me if I would consider cosmetic surgery (another $300) to hide the scar! I told him I thought it would just add to her reputation as a Junk Yard Dog. I consider dogs a luxury item like owning a Harley or having an in ground swimming pool. Love 'em, spend the money or get a ZuZu pet.
0 Replies
 
Tai Chi
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Jan, 2010 09:02 am
A news story from CBC radio this am:

Quote:
The Ottawa Police Service has 15 dogs in its canine unit. The dogs go through at least four months training to learn how to sniff out missing people, bombs and narcotics, and one Ottawa police officer estimated that each police dog represents an investment of more than $100,000.

To help protect that investment, members of Ottawa’s Paramedic Tactical Unit are going through a two-week veterinary training program that teaches paramedics how to treat police dogs injured on the job.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/ottawa/story/2010/01/27/ott-ontario-paramedics-dogs.html#ixzz0dv3AGNp1


Interesting comment from a reader -- who will the paramedics choose to treat first? The injured dog or the injured suspect?
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Jan, 2010 10:28 am
@sozobe,
sozobe wrote:
I was also surprised that spay + neuter programs might be selecting for not-nice animals.


I'd thought something similar before reading this, only similar in that there would be some amount of selection. In the scenario I was thinking about, it might select against mutts and foster "approved single breed" dog breeding. Even though I've had two purebred rescue dogs by chance, I'm a big fan of muttdom. Anyway, I mulled my way into thinking it wouldn't be any immediate problem, what with the number of dogs being put down.

That quote above took me some time to get my mind around, but I see the point.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Jan, 2010 10:44 am
@sozobe,
It's hard figuring where the limit is.

I sure as hell have one...no way I'd be spending remotely like $14,000!!!!!!

And, death comes with the pet package. They live shorter lives than us.
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Jan, 2010 10:56 am
@dlowan,
Yep.

Btw I left out a word that changes the meaning of what I wrote a bit... I said:

Quote:
my dad would euthanize if vet's bills threatened to go beyond a couple of hundred dollars. I thought that was wrong at the time. I'm not sure how willing I am to take it in the other direction though -- the $14,000 bill for a weekend that still ended up with a dead dog is sobering.


I meant

Quote:
my dad would euthanize if vet's bills threatened to go beyond a couple of hundred dollars. I thought that was wrong at the time. I'm not sure how far I am willing to take it in the other direction though -- the $14,000 bill for a weekend that still ended up with a dead dog is sobering.


I'd definitely, definitely be ready to spend more than a couple of hundred dollars. $14,000 in a weekend = scary. And generally I'd be scared by something in between, extraordinary measures that I don't think they even used to offer that could extend a pet's life but might not. It'd be so so hard to say "no."
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Thu 28 Jan, 2010 11:01 am
@Setanta,
The new "designer dogs" are mutts! Mostly (blank)+poodle. My neighbor recently paid a fortune and flew in a "mutt" puppy from another state.

I realized muttness had changed when people asked what kind of dog Diamond is and I would say he's a mutt. "Yeah, but what KIND of mutt?" would be their reply. Even mutts are required to have some kind of pedigree.

I'm still not sure what to make of it.
0 Replies
 
 

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