July 1, 2013

snippets, 7-1-2013-2

Are dogs now just furry kids? What a weird article. On the one hand it seems to excoriate people for treating dogs like pipples, but on the other, it links to some interesting articles on current research on dog cognition that strongly indicates there's more to our dogs than meets the eye. Not sure what conclusion the article is trying to draw. Maybe it's just link bait. (The part of the article about how dogs know when their people aren't looking did not apply to Juniper. We once left her alone all day with a whole bowl of M&Ms on a low table and she did not touch them. She was honorable. I don't know whether any of our other dogs, past or current, would have passed that test.)

Much more interesting is a blog post from Dr. McConnell about the health effects of neutering/spaying; there are indications that early neutering can have deleterious effects on an animal's health. Everyone wants to provide the best for their pets, but, you know, 100 percent of the millions of animals languishing in shelters across the US came from intact dogs. (Science! But snark aside, the better question is whether vasectomies and tubal ligations might be better for our critters' health than castrations and hysterectomies.)

I don't think I treat my dogs like children. For one thing, I communicate better with my dogs, and for another, the dogs get more and better toys than my kids ever did. I do question the extent to which I'm feeding off the media's new interest in dog cognition and consciousness; I'm troubled by Oscar Wilde's quote about how unoriginal most of our thoughts are. But I do know that Ondine and Pan are in my life for a reason, and I'm grateful for the many blessings they're helping me see, and I think that's a direct result of the shift from the dominance-based training theories that were prevalent when I was growing up (i.e., the Monks of New Skete, Barbara Woodhouse, etc.) toward the more recent positive reinforcement and communication theories. (And yes, there were 70 words in that last sentence. And it started with a conjunction. And as a very old man recently said, "Back in my day dogs didn't get diabetes or cancer. They either ran off or got hit by cars.") I try not to over-anthropomorphize my dogs, but instead to understand what sort of dog-thoughts they might be thinking. I fail often. Heck, I'm only human. :)

Also, and too, I'm pondering doing some more long-form writing. There's just too much stuff swirling around in my head; I've recently re-read The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, along with some embodied-consciousness stuff, as well as lots of dog training manuals and some mind-bending Philip K. Dick. I think I need to do some more disciplined writing to help me get a grasp on some of these things. And I've been thinking about writing some fiction, too - I'm pondering a project called "Shepherd's Watch." Stay tuned - but, you know, if I go there you don't have to read any of it. Maybe a separate blog?

1 comment: