Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Pet Ownership and Control

For the past week, I’ve been doggy sitting for a family member.  The dog, a Bouvier, is a great and generally well-behaved dog that is rarely any trouble.  The only concern is that he is difficult to control when he sees small, wild animals (e.g. squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, etc.) because he wants to chase them and tells you he does with his entire 100 pound frame.  He’s not aggressive at all, but since he’s an only dog that hasn’t been overly socialized, he can be a bit excitable around other dogs.  Anyway, that’s the back story.

I was walking the dog this morning, and about 1/4 of the way through, I heard a grunt come from some bushes.  It sounded like a quiet dog bark, but after looking around as I walked past the bushes, I couldn’t see anything.  I kept going on my way.

About 15 minutes later, I went past the same area, but I was on the other side of the road.  In the general area where I heard the noise come from, I saw what I think was a Basset Hound (or similar breed).  The dog was unleashed with no owner in sight, and it started crossing the road and walking (more like hobbling) towards me and my dog.  My dog started whining at me and pulling as the dog kept walking towards us.  I sped up the pace at which I was walking away from the other dog while monitoring its distance and trying to keep my dog in check.

After the dog had crossed the road and walked 10 or 20 feet along the sidewalk, the owner finally came out calling for her dog.  The calls were completely half-assed, she hobbled without any pace/urgency, and the dog clearly had no respect for its owner as it completely disregarded the calls.  I yelled to the person, “Where’s your dog’s leash?!  Your dog is supposed to be on a leash!  Come get your damn dog!”  With a completely oblivious tone, she said, “OK, I’m going to get the leash.”  It wasn’t until I was about a quarter mile down the road until she finally got to the dog.

Now, to be completely honest, I was really annoyed by the whole situation.  There I was, walking my dog, following the law, and minding my own business.  Meanwhile, this lady was not following the law and didn’t give two _ _ _ _s about it.  In the moment, as a conscientious person, I was thinking: What should I do if the dog gets too close?  Should I kick it?  How close is too close?  What am I supposed to do?  What do I do if the dog attacks my dog?  Do I try to protect my dog or attack her dog?  What do I do if this is the one time that my dog decides to be aggressive?  With a massive, excitable dog and the added responsibility of caring for it for a family member, that lady put me in a really difficult situation.

About a month ago, the exact same thing happened with a different dog.  As a result, it made me think: How on earth are these people allowed to own pets?  Based on statistics quoted by The Humane Society, there are 79.7 million households with a pet (cat or dog) and about 163.6 million pets.  Roughly 6-8 million cats and dogs enter animal shelters each year, of which around 3 million are euthanized.  Thus, depending on opinion and as a general estimate, about 3.8%-10.0% households that own pets are incapable of properly caring for them.  That’s an awful lot.

I looked into my county’s bylaws to see what the penalty is for leaving a dog unleashed.  It’s only $80 for the first offence and $150 for all offences thereafter.  Moreover, it’s only $80 for not having a dog license and $80 for not having a dog tag on your dog.

So, anyone can own a pet, a notable portion of the population can’t or won’t care for the ones they own, and the government does very little to prevent any of it.  In turn, we’re killing millions of thinking and feeling creatures, negatively impacting the lives of others, and costing society billions of dollars.  We’ve known this for years and yet we stand there, staring blankly as our unleashed dog crosses the road to get hit by a car, killed by a bigger dog, or kicked in the head by a stranger protecting himself and his property.  But, actually doing something requires work, and why do anything when you can just not?  Instead, take the path of least resistance and blame it on fast foods.

- Steve

Thursday, September 08, 2016

To have kids or not to have kids—that is the question

In her article entitled, “Just Because You Can Have Kids Doesn't Mean You Should,” Sara Starkman outlines how she isn’t sure how she feels about having children.  Appropriately, she recognizes the importance of not becoming a helicopter parent—“being involved in a child’s life in a way that is overcontrolling, overprotecting, and overperfecting, in a way that is in excess of responsible parenting”—and how such parenting only serves to create monsters.  She also points out that some parents go off the deep end when discussing having children themselves or wind up living vicariously through the children of others.  When asked about having children herself, comments in response to her answer, “I’m not sure,” verge on insanity, suggesting that she is selfish if she chooses not to have any.

I must say that I enjoyed how she encapsulated her perspective on having children.  Here is how she put it:

“Why does me not wanting to have kids seem so outrageous?  I’ll tell you what I think is outrageous:

1) Contributing to our gross overpopulation problem.  (Sorry, I’m not into monsoons or only eating foraged seeds for the rest of my life thanks.)
2) Having children when you don't really know if you want them but having them anyway because you think you should (we have enough sociopaths do we not?).
3) Having kids before you’re ready.  (I found a five-dollar bill recently and nearly creamed my pants.  How would this child survive?)
4) Worrying about EVERYTHING for the next...OH YAH FOREVER (I cannot bald.  My hair is all I have!)
5) Having to pretend to like douche bag kids that my kids play with because they haven’t yet learned what standards are.
6) Doing SOMEONE ELSE’S homework instead of having sex.
7) Needing adult diapers sooner than anticipated.
8) Having a moment in time where my asshole and snatch are one. I give you, the snatchhole.
9) Giving up sleep for, probably, the rest of my life (GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE guys, for real).
10) Thinking that working hard, travelling, volunteering, caring for my partner and our animals or having more time and money to spend with my parents is selfish.  It’s just different.  So suck it.”

There is no question that many parents should not have been/should not be allowed to have children, since dysfunctional parents tend to produce dysfunctional children.  Some would pipe in by saying that a licence should be required to have children (along with a qualifying process).  Many would argue that it is their right to choose one way or another.  Turning back to Sara’s comments, others could justifiably point out that putting her needs first is indeed selfish.  Then others might suggest that for a lot of parents, having children is simply “keeping up with the Joneses.”

Where do I stand on matters?  My answer is: I don’t know!  Certain aspects of all of the above comments ring as true.  What is my conclusion on this matter?  You guessed it: Blame it on fast foods!

- B. J. T. Pepin