Granted, mug shots are not generally the most flattering photos out there, as the Smoking Gun will attest (gotta love that site) but this dude got my attention because 1. he’s local, and 2. there’s just something particularly tacky about having one’s prized pit bulls tattooed on one’s neck. If he was into dog fighting, I hope his fellow prisoners have just as dim a view of dog fighting as they do of child molestation. There are responsible owners of pit bulls, but when one sees pit bulls connected with criminal elements I know it gets my wheels turning in a bad way. The only things lower than a person who arranges and participates in dog fighting (in my humble opinion) are child molesters, rapists and serial killers.
Yes I own dogs that are considered to be protection breeds, (i.e German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois) so yes I am very sensitive to those who would condemn a dog because of its breed rather than to condemn the idiots who mistreat and misuse dogs. Condemning a dog for the owner’s negligence or ignorance is akin to blaming a car for running off the road rather than blaming the drunk driver controlling the car. Dogs were bred for thousands of years to fulfill certain human purposes- some dogs to guard, some to herd (often guarding and herding are functions of the same breeds) some for hunting, such as spaniels, hounds and retrievers, and so on. Yet the ultimate usefulness of a dog is determined by a number of factors, most primarily what his human handlers condition him/her to do. I don’t agree with all of the common wisdom in dog handling- there are some nut jobs out there- but the primary function of the human in the human-dog relationship is to be the leader, the one who calls the shots- to be the alpha in the pack formation- especially when dealing with multiple dogs.
Right now Sheena is bouncing back splendidly from surgery, but is proving to be a a bit of a behavioral challenge because she’s basically having to go through “puppy class” or basic obedience, as an adult. She is in the process of learning what one would normally be teaching to 8-16 week old puppies. She knows her name and can sit on command at this point. Getting her attention is the hard part as she is easily distracted. It’s a lot easier to teach a more malleable and much smaller 12 week old than it is to condition a strong-willed three year old who has acquired some bad habits (trash-digging, climbing on things including the coffee table, inappropriately taking food, etc.) along the way. One thing that Sheena does get very well is house training- no bathroom mistakes and that amazes me, though house training usually is not much of a problem for protection breeds, and it does help that she has two dogs in the house who are already conditioned and know the routine. Few methods of conditioning dogs are more effective than having access to other dogs who have already learned the required behaviors. They learn more quickly, and perhaps with some peer pressure to conform to the norms of the rest of the pack, from other dogs. Canine social structure can be used to our advantage.
Sheena is attempting some power struggles with Clara (to be expected as Clara is the reigning queen bee) and I am having to reinforce Clara’s position by making Sheena work for every privilege she gets. Clara already knows the drill but Sheena can be strong willed and pushy, especially where food is involved. Clara can be rather laissez-faire regarding food unless of course, someone else wants it. Then she will make it clear that it’s HER food, and she will eat it at her leisure- one daintily and thoroughly chewed bite at a time. Clara does not eat like a normal dog. Lilo is extremely food motivated (Lilo the Inhaler, or her more infamous alter ego- the Food Ho) but even she knows better than to infringe on the Clara bowl- she learned a long time ago to leave Clara’s food alone at least until Clara’s done with it- but Sheena is having to learn and sometimes she has to learn the hard way. Clara has rolled her a couple of times, but hasn’t hurt her doing it. I would rather correct Sheena than allow Clara do to it because Clara’s correction won’t be as gentle as mine. Clara also knows that I am above her in the pack hierarchy and I should be responsible for dishing out discipline. Sheena particularly dislikes the water bottle- but it is redirecting her from undesired behaviors without physically hurting her (we do not use physical discipline on our dogs.) A blast of water in the face is enough to get her attention. I know, I’m a mean mommy, but Sheena will learn to adapt to the established norms for dog behavior in our house. It’s just a bit more of a process when a dog is an adult vs. a puppy. It’s easier to redirect a 20# 16 week old pup than a 70# three year old, but certainly not impossible. Dogs learn from the moment of birth until the moment of death. Heidi did remarkably well for us in spite of little to no socialization or conditioning for nine years. Even senior dogs can be socialized with a little patience. I have to remember this when Sheena signals her desire to go out at 5AM by lustily barking her way all through the house until I make it to the door. I’m glad she’s good about her toileting activities- cleaning up a 70# dog’s bathroom mistake is NOT pleasant by any means, and she’s dropped some pretty huge almost Clara-sized loads outside- but I’m not really thrilled with her waking Jerry up that early. I have confidence Sheena will learn. Jerry, now there I wonder.
Jerry managed to annihilate his phone last night. It was already most distressed to begin with, but his attempts to take the back of it off with a screwdriver were its death knell. I had ordered him another one- a very simple phone with a big keypad- but it will probably not arrive until tonight or tomorrow which means he is without a phone and without the means to transfer his contact list (guess what I get to reload… manually) until it arrives. I tried to show him how to use my phone (LG Rumor Touch) but without success. The touch screen confused the hell out of him, (I didn’t even attempt to show him how to use the keyboard) and frankly expecting him to be able to use it was sort of cruel to a dude with both tremor disorder and presbyopia.
I am not the most technologically savvy person in the world, and I freely admit it, but even I can figure out a touch screen cell phone and even how to get on the Internet with it and check my e-mail and all that. Maybe if I had more time and patience but Jerry is a bit of what I call a technology tard. Even worse was the poor guy who called Jerry wanting to know why the convertor box Jerry sold him for his TV didn’t work. I was trying to explain to Jerry that the box has no way to pick up signal unless it is connected with the coax for the antenna going in to the box, then the coax from the box going into the TV. Connecting the TV into the box without connecting the antenna to anything wasn’t going to work no matter what the poor kid did.
The only thing worse than the garden variety technology tard is the Darwin-award candidate technology tard- say the guy who goes up on the roof to adjust a TV antenna or satellite dish in a thunderstorm. So far Jerry has managed to keep all his fingers and toes for 53 years which in and of itself is an amazing feat considering some of the dumb stuff he’s done with power tools. I don’t claim to be good with any kind of tool but I know my limitations and I also learned the cardinal rule of power tools: “Don’t Drink and Drill.” I remember the visual quite vividly from Matt Groening’s “Life is Hell” comics. I think it’s from “Work is Hell” but I’d have to dig through it. Jerry on the other hand seems to have to be drunk to get motivated to use the power tools and that scares the hell out of me.
I should hide the drill battery. Note to self.