Happy Lupercalia!, (Remember Our Lupine Friends) and Staying Off the Beaten Path

Ok , so Clara is a dog.  So why am I talking about an ancient Roman pagan holiday that celebrates the wolf?  The Latin word for wolf is lupus (yes, this is where the horrible disease, lupus, got its name, because it ravages those afflicted much as a wolf ravages its prey.) The taxonomic name for dog is canis lupus familiaris.  – loosely translated- the house wolf.  Canis lupus lupus (if you want to discern between sub-species) is the grey wolf.

Most people are blissfully unaware that domestic dogs and grey wolves are the same species.  Same DNA.  Though humans have done some pretty damned bizarre things with the dog in the 15,000 or so years that they have been domesticated, the DNA is still there.  Because dogs have a large number of chromosomes (78) and a tendency toward frequent mutations due to the phenomenon of  tandem repeats, there is a tremendous amount of variation in appearance and body characteristics- from the 1# ankle-biter to the 250# Mastiff.  But dogs are dogs (are also wolves…) which is useful knowledge.  We live with genetically engineered wolves.  In my alternatively wired way of thinking, that’s pretty effing cool. (Science, history and vocabulary lessons today- I’m on a roll!)

Obviously, we humans aren’t terribly good at determining who should and should NOT breed, even outside our own species.

Granted, humans have really screwed up a lot of things, but that’s just Murphy’s Law in action.   As far as dogs go, canine husbandry has both successes and tragic failures.  It’s sad that certain dog breeds are so modified that some can only give birth by c-section (many of the brachycephalic breeds) and others are prone to orthopedic issues (many of the large and giant breeds) while others are prone to devastating cancers.  Inbreeding, as well as breeding dogs that really aren’t suitable to be bred, have only contributed to the plethora of genetic diseases today’s dogs are subject to.

Even with all the fascinating scientific information available on genetics- and dogs are one of the most heavily studied animals in this regard- there are still infinite unknowns.   Breeding is simply setting the wheels in motion for a cosmic crap shoot.   The genetic difference between a Grand Champion, the neighborhood trash-snarfing cur, and the wild wolf out in the woods is infinitesimal.  So eugenics for our canine friends really is what it is for everything else- some science, some art, and a whole lot of blind luck.  Some of us do well in the genetic lottery (and a good breeder has strategies to sweeten the odds) but at the end of the day some of us do well, and others not so much.

 To quote Forrest Gump, “Life is a box of chocolates.  You never know which one you’re going to get.” 

I know Murphy’s Law, and it works pretty well with Newton’s Laws.  “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” (Newton)  Of course, Murphy’s Law can’t leave that one alone without adding a few corollaries such as:  “If nature makes you beautiful, nature will almost inevitably make you stupid,”  “Brains and coordination cannot inhabit the same body,” and, “If you expect him to use the laundry chute, be prepared to use the lawn mower.”

As much as I hate to admit it, (and as much as I really don’t like  touching the skanky Natty-splattered whitey-tighties that would end up lying all over the house) undies vs. lawn care is a pretty fair trade, at least in the summer.  I spend a good chunk of time playing seek and wash with Jerry’s clothes.  He will strip and drop clothing just about everywhere in the house, especially when he’s besnookered, making my laundry adventures begin with a maze!   It’s sort of like an Easter egg hunt only there’s no eggs- just soiled man-clothes. The process of retrieving Jerry’s clothes for wash-time also is reminiscent of searching through the Cracker Jack box.  There’s often a “prize” inside, such as cigarette butts and/or cellophanes, or massive skidmarks – living proof that sharting is real.  You want to be really careful which part of the garment you touch when picking it up.  Usually- though not every time- the waistbands escape unscathed.

Just an FYI: sharting shouldn’t be attempted whilst wearing any sort of garment, and shouldn’t be attempted at all unless your drawers are down and your butt is firmly planted on the commode.

Of course there are a number of things one should really think twice about doing.  Such as this:

“A” for creativity, but “F” for future opportunities to fornicate.  There’s something about a visual of a cat’s ass on your lover’s front area (with the belly button serving a dual purpose as the bunghole no less!) that might just be a little off-putting.

I guess for me it is easier to celebrate a holiday dedicated to the canines (and lupines- same thing) of the world than to ruminate on and on about sappy romantic platitudes. 

I get to go home and hug the dogs!  As I told a friend of mine, I do have something to look forward to tonight.  Jerry’s out of Natties- and if there is any justice in this world he should be good and miserable from last night’s drunk and stupid foray into Nattyvana, and I have three beautiful dogs waiting for me to get home.

The Gravitas of a Popcorn Fart, Pit Bull Vindication, and the Tyranny of Stuff

 

I really had to do a bit of work on this pic to make it legible, but I couldn’t resist this old bumper sticker.  I saw this one  the other day displayed on an old, distressed Chevy “G” series van, and was fortunate enough to get a pic of it as I was stopped at one of the endless traffic lights on Morse Rd..   I don’t have any Pit Bulls (or Am Staffs, as many Pittie owners prefer to call them) but as a person who 1. loves dogs, and 2. owns protection breeds, I have to agree with this.  I’ve said it before, that the quality of a dog is heavily dependent on the quality of care and training it receives from its owner. 

Genetics and breeding do play into a dog’s basic temperament, and are essential factors when dealing with a particular dog.  I cannot realistically expect Clara (her predominant breed is Belgian Malinois) to obey commands given by anyone she doesn’t know.  Her inclination is to obey and protect her owner (me) and she will naturally be wary of others.  This is a personality trait of Malinois and most other protection breeds.  GSDs are notorious for being wary of strangers as well, which is a neutral trait in and of itself.  It’s good to have a dog that only obeys one person- at least in certain circumstances.  I can, however, expect Clara to be polite with people when she is properly introduced.  When Grandma was in the nursing home, Clara enjoyed going to the nursing home and visiting with people.  She was comfortable with this, and welcomed people’s attention, as long as I was with her, and she was in her harness.  Lilo is not a terribly social dog (typical of Chows.) She is obedient when she is in her harness as long as people and other dogs keep their distance.  Unlike Clara, Lilo does not allow “strangers” to pet her even when she is in her harness.  I understand that Clara and Lilo both have to establish relationships with people and with other dogs, which require careful introductions, before they will be social with them.  I do not force Lilo to be around children, and I don’t let them attempt to pet her, because she doesn’t like kids.  Since I understand that, it is my obligation to keep Lilo away from kids and out of situations in which she could potentially be dangerous.

Sheena, for all of her bad breeding (the poor girl’s mannerisms and dim-wittedness scream “inbreeding”) doesn’t know a stranger, human or canine.  Anyone can interact with Sheena and likely end up getting leaned on, flopped on and headbutted into loving on Sheena, because that’s how she rolls.  If she gets attention or food out of the deal, she’s your buddy for life, and she’s not picky.  This too can be a beautiful quality in a dog as long as you don’t expect that dog to defend you or your property.  Sheena’s not that bright, but it’s OK.  She looks intimidating.  The poor kids over in the drunk and domestic apartments across from the body shop think she’s a wolf.  They can think that, especially if it keeps them out of the body shop lot and out of our yard.  Clara is the one they really need to be aware of even though she doesn’t look anything like a wolf.  They don’t know that Sheena is as harmless as harmless gets- docile, dim-witted, and the poor girl wore down her canine teeth to little stubbies and her incisors completely to the gum from cage-biting, since the inbred fools who used to have her had no idea how to care for a dog, but I won’t get into depth on that subject.  It still pisses me off to think of it.  Just because they bred with their sisters didn’t mean it was a good idea to do the same thing with their dogs, but again, I really don’t want to get into that.

The bottom line is I don’t blame the dog when someone gets dog-bit.  There are two reasons why anyone would get dog-bit.  One is owner mistreatment or neglect of the dog.  People who intentionally mistreat dogs and try to make their dogs mean and turn them against people and other dogs fit into a category including child molesters and rapists and other despicable individuals.  The other is if you are stupid enough to come into a dog’s domain when you’ve been warned- either the dog itself warns you, (most dogs would rather not attack you- they will give you a warning) or you enter into an area that is the dog’s territory.  Go ahead, jump my fence, or break into my house, and if Clara and Lilo have your ass for lunch, guess whose fault that is?  My dogs are not vicious. They are duly restrained and kept from situations in which they could be dangerous- unless you make a conscious effort to place your butt in their mouths.

I understand that people have intentionally bred for the tendency toward dog-aggression in certain Pit Bull lines.  I will even agree knowing that many Pitties tend toward dog-aggression that they be kept as “only dogs” or that they be raised together from earliest puppyhood with other dogs to mitigate that tendency, at least with members of their own packs.   Ultimately how safe a particular dog is depends on how the owner deals with that dog.  Individual dogs are as different as individual people, even though you can expect certain broad behavioral tendencies within certain breeds.   Responsible owners will have safer dogs. 

I will not say that any dog is 100% safe any more than I will say any human is 100% safe.  There is no such thing as a “safe” creature that is armed with 42 razor sharp teeth that are designed to rip and tear flesh, and that is three times stronger than a human pound for pound of body weight.   If I had to wager though, the dog’s behavior is going to be more reliable and predictable than any given human.  We are a far more violent species.  One’s safety (and the safety of children in one’s care) is dependent upon common sense.  Canine body language is not hard at all to read, and there are some common-sense rules to observe when dealing with any dog.

I love this pic, even though it is only a yawn.  There’s no aggression being shown here at all even though it could be taken that way out of context.  Clara has always had lovely teeth.  She is not an inherently aggressive dog, but she will protect me and she will defend her territory.  That’s what I expect her to do.  We do not use physical punishment to train our dogs- just a simple system of redirection, rewards and simply living with and building relationships with them.  They get a lot of activity and affection.

I know my opinion generally has all the gravitas of a popcorn fart- a lot of hot air and easily missed- but for what it’s worth I simply can’t stand it when people condemn any particular dog breed.  What they’re really saying is that they are too stupid and/or lazy to learn how to deal with dogs, and to have a healthy respect for what dogs are capable of. 

I’ve never been what anyone would call a clothes horse- for the most part I follow the “Three C’s” of clothing acquisition.  Is it Cheap?- not as in poor quality, but as in low price?  Thrift stores and garage sales rule for this very reason.  I don’t like to spend a lot of money on clothes.  Is it Comfortable?  If it itches, if it’s too tight, forget about it.  I’m too old to sacrifice comfort for vanity.  Does it Cover the essentials?  At my age, nobody really wants to see much skin.  As a courtesy to the rest of humanity, I try to make very sure that the essentials are covered.

Shoes are a whole different ball game.  I love shoes.  I wear an easy to fit size (unlike clothes, where the tops have to be one or two sizes bigger than the bottoms.) 99 times out of 100 if I order a 7B  shoe, it will fit.  I do have a high instep, so I have to be aware of that when I mail order shoes (I have to avoid certain boots and certain over the top of the foot styles) but for the most part it’s a wide open vista of foot fashions for me.  I must have over a 100 pairs of shoes and I freely admit it (most of them bought on clearance, but still.)   It is my vice.  At least they’re cheaper than cigarettes, won’t kill me, and are a damned sight more practical.  Never come between a cougar and her shoes!