Oct 16, 2008

The (not so) Hungry Chihuahua

Edison won't eat his dog food, even though it has fresh meat and veggies in it. He'll eat any people food that might come his way just as long as it isn't mixed in any way with dog food, either by direct hand-feeding him (a no no with little dogs who only have limited tummy space for actual meals even though it's hard to resist that teeny face asking for a treat) or when a tasty tidbit is accidentally dropped by someone in the house (a frequent occurrence when one lives with pigs who possess highly suspect table manners). Either way, Edison won't eat what is served just for him. We tend to go through spells of anorexia every now and again, and when they happen I get nervous. At first I'm fine with it as it's normal for dogs to occasionally not eat much and toy breeds are known for their persnickety eating habits, but when it continues for more than a couple of days the neurotic inner me lunges out and begins to fret about whether he's ill, losing weight or what, if anything, is wrong with my little darling and how serious it might be and of course how to cure it. And the more I think about it, the more tweaked I get. And then I can't eat.

So last night after a longish walk (what was exhausting to a seven inch tall, six pound dog at any rate) and then endless play indoors, he should have been starving, but he wasn't and again turned up his nose at what amounted to the fifth or sixth bowl of food that had gone untouched in the last couple of days. So being my usual retarded and naturally relentlessly nervous self, I refused to go to bed until he ate something. At midnight I decided to get down on the floor and pretend to eat from Edison's latest bowl of fresh food in the hopes that he'd want what I had, which usually works. And sure enough it did. All the yummy noises I was making as I was "nibbling" his food had him rushing over to the bowl, his teensy face jammed into the bowl next to mine to see what was so delicious it had me in virtual paroxysms of joy. If you're going to fake your dog out by pretending to eat its food, there really is no such thing as overacting. The award for Best Dramatic Performance goes to the one who gets the dog to finally eat. And the more fun you appear to be having and the more satisfaction you appear to be getting from his food, the better. But when he realized that it was people food and dog food, he turned up his nose and went back into his little bed a few feet away, but continued to watch my every move.

So I took it to the next level of fake eating: pulling delectable bits from the bowl, "nibbling" them by hand and then off-handedly offering them to Edison to share with me. And this was what worked. Twenty minutes later, one hand slathered in wet dog food and bits of sauteed chicken stuck to rice and dry dog kibble, he had eaten half the bowl and that was enough for me. I know many people in my life think I spoil my dog far too much, what with the enormous wardrobe, the multiple comfy dog beds throughout the house, the thousands of toys (and new ones arriving all the time), and the two sets of colorful porcelain dog dishes in just the right size for a little chihuahua, but when he won't eat, I will do what I have to to ensure that he's getting the nutrients he needs to stay healthy and happy. My mother asked me today if next I'll be putting him in a high chair and a bib and spoon feeding him at the table, and while I don't foresee myself going to that extreme (though it would be cute as shit, however dysfunctional it may be), I will do what I need to do to see that he eats. And if that means getting down on all fours and pantomiming enjoying a bowl of yummy dog food a couple of times a day, every day, then that's what I'll do. Sad, but true. I only wish the food smelled a little better than it does. My nose would certainly appreciate it.

Oct 8, 2008

Greyhound Racing in Massachusetts

I'm really excited that voting day is just a few weeks away, not because of the presidential race, but because of a question that has finally- after years of initiatives and public outcry- gotten onto our Massachusetts ballot. I'm talking about Question 3 which is the vote to forever ban Greyhound Dog Racing in this state. Needless to say, my vote will be to end this horrible "sport" once and for all.

It isn't the actual racing part which is the problem as I would think that greyhounds, who can and do love to run fast, especially while chasing small game, would truly enjoy a fast lap around the track chasing the "rabbit." No, it's everything else associated with the dog racing industry that sucks: the abuse of those dogs who don't perform adequately and eventually of even those who have been big winners, the neglect of injuries sustained when the dogs are worked to exhaustion and never properly vetted, and the dumping or abandonment of unwanted and emotionally and physically broken dogs once they are no longer able to win, win, win no matter what. The fact that these dogs are so horribly treated and spend their miserable lives, twenty hours a day in filthy cages that aren't even big enough to stand up in, is simply deplorable. And the fact that dogs who have died and have been confiscated by the state and autopsied have been found to be riddled with cocaine among other performance enhancing drugs and stimulants is also reprehensible.

Here in Massachusetts, we have listened to those in the industry whine endlessly for the last five or six years while various animal rights groups have attempted to get this question on the ballot about how banning dog racing will end their livelihood, will take millions of dollars in revenue from the state and leave thousands without employment. And to this I say: tough shit. Find a career that doesn't exploit and abuse animals, go to the casinos in Connecticut if you insist on gambling away your cash and get a job in another industry that allows you to maintain some semblance of integrity, if you even had any to begin with. And to those racing dog owners who say all these dogs are well-cared for, clearly you have never been to the greyhound shelters where your offal is being rehabilitated and hopefully eventually adopted into loving homes. Well-cared for dogs neither look nor act like your poor greyhounds do that are now living in these shelters. Have you never seen terror or pain in an animal's eyes? Can you not see a grossly misshapen limb that was never set properly after a break? Have you ever even looked at the dogs you race? You are all liars desperate to keep this industry alive and you deserve to suffer too and since money is clearly more important to you than the dogs in your kennels, I would think that no longer being able to profit from them in any way is the perfect form of suffering. And may all the inhuman humans who benefited in any way from this industry, from the folks who knowingly bred these dogs solely to race them until they were unable to run another step, and the folks who did the actual training and racing of them and then beat them when they didn't live up to expectations and then abandoned them with heart conditions and broken legs and left them to suffer and die, and those folks who took home a paycheck from working at a track and watched all this happen while doing nothing to put a stop to it, and lastly even those people who bet on these poor dogs and thus perpetuated this heinous industry, may you all burn in hell. Or better still, may you all be forced to endure what these dogs have endured for nearly a century here without hope and when you are no longer useful to those who would exploit you, may you die a lonely, cold and painful death with no one to love, nurture and heal you after you have been beaten down to nothing. Harsh words, maybe, but no harsher than the behavior of so many in this state throughout the years.

I hope to god that the people of this state are smart enough to see the dog racing industry for what it is: a monstrous and terrifying money-making machine that glorifies the "sport" of dog racing while it is in fact little more than a business that consistently and relentlessly tortures one of the most beautiful and graceful dogs on this planet. It is right up there with dog fighting and must be forever banned. Now.

VOTE YES ON QUESTION 3. The dogs need you to end their suffering.

And a big thanks to dooziedog.com for the use of their lovely photo of greyhounds running very fast. I very much appreciate it.

Oct 7, 2008

A Rescue Group Rant

My quest for a second dog that I adore as much as Edison (if this is even possible) continues. This past weekend I found a miniature pinscher in need of a home that fit pretty much all of the criteria I have set for our next dog. She's a little girl, still young (at five years old), spayed and up to date on shots and she came from a family that surrendered her due to the other dogs in their house picking on her. This means that she wasn't living on the streets indefinitely and picking up god only knows what, that her age is accurate and that she is on the more submissive side, which would be ideal as Edison is quite alpha. And at only 15 lbs she's still small enough to be able to play with Edison and not hurt him when they rough house. Perfect, right? Well, not so much.

I filled out the application online for the rescue group that has this dog (a national group who shall remain nameless). I understand my need to prove my home ownership, and their need to contact my vet to prove that I can and do take my pets' health seriously, and that a home visit will enable them to see firsthand where we live and how we live. They can meet the family members who live here, both human and animal, and these folks can sleep soundly in the knowledge that my house is clean and not full of dirty pet dishes and piles of feces, nor that I'm running a puppy mill out of my basement or even a dog fighting ring out in my barn. I understand all this. I can even, somewhat, understand their wanting to pay a second visit to my home after the new dog is settled in to see how things are going with everyone and to see how we are all adapting to one another. But it was their adoption agreement, available online afterwards, that had rendered me speechless. I can't quite cotton to the idea that their adoption contract gives them the right to drop in whenever they wish to see how things are going at any time during this dog's entire lifetime and that if they feel I'm not being a very good pet parent, they can take the dog back right then and there, a concept that is far too vague, broad and open-ended for my comfort. I will also be required to notify them of any changes in the residents of my home and if I change addresses. According to this agreement, they have the absolute right to be kept informed of these things and should I neglect to tell them my son has grown up and has moved out, or we have sold our home and purchased a new one, once they have tracked me down at the new address, again, they can confiscate my dog if they choose. Perhaps they would feel more secure if I installed closed circuit video cameras in every room of my house so they can watch the goings-on here 24 hours a day. Maybe even add audio and a PA system that connects them to me, so if they feel I'm slacking off in any way, they can push a button at their headquarters and tell me over a loudspeaker here in my home to cut the shit or they'll be coming to take my dog within the hour. Do I have to furnish a friend list and get approval on everyone on it before they're allowed to visit us and the dog? What about potential workmen here? Plumbers, electricians? Must they be approved in advance of entering my home?

Honestly, things have gotten completely and utterly out of hand in the animal rescue and adoption industry. There is concern for the well-being of a soon-to-be-adopted pet and there is caution in approving a family and then there is insanity and in all honesty, nazism. It seems that just about everyone is taking "being careful" to the extreme to the point of driving away honest, animal-loving people from giving a homeless animal the safe, loving and nurturing home they deserve. I understand wanting to be sure a pet isn't going to be abused in their new home or returned to a shelter because it hasn't worked out. I get this, and I wouldn't want to have an animal that has lived such a hard life endure any more upset or upheaval in their lives, but there is a line of decency and a lot of these people have long ago crossed it in the guise of making sure a pet has a happy life for the remainder of their time here on earth.

Whatever happened to the local pound where you could make a donation and bring home a loving dog and have a new best friend in your life without all the bullshit? Without the volunteers there doing their utmost to make you feel like you aren't worthy of the dogs they have so perhaps you should look elsewhere? How did things get so out of hand?

I desperately want a second dog (or more) but there is absolutely no way I'm going to sign away my rights of privacy and freedom (for possibly the next two decades or so) to live my life as I see fit without having to report my every move to strangers in the name of adopting a dog I have chosen and paid for, the money of which (and this agency is not cheap) goes directly to aid their other dogs that never get adopted out (probably due to the outrageously stringent adoption rules). After I have proven in my initial interviews and meetings (and jumped through their ridiculous hoops) that I am a fit pet owner and will be able to more than adequately care for my new dog, my responsibility to these people should end there. I shouldn't be subjected to random visits and phone calls a decade or more from now that force me to continue to prove that I am a capable pet owner or else. Give me a break.

It's the animals who deserve so much better than that which they currently have and they are being robbed of their chances at a long and wonderful life with a family who adores them when all of these controlling morons alienate those who are looking to adopt.
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