Infantile dreams, part 3: Dog owners and trainers

With humans around, most dogs are downright fucked. Not all of them, not always and not completely. But yeah, mostly they are fucked, and in more ways than you or I can count. Well, let’s try anyway.

Often enough it’s still neglect the dog, chain the dog somewhere, throw them some scraps, forget them. Or it’s beat the shit out of the dog. Kick the dog. Pull on that leash until they choke. Pull and pull again. Spill all of your venom on them. They depend on you for their lives, so maybe they’ll let you. They’ll probably let you. And if they bite back, well, that’s when you get real angry and get out that steel fire poker. Of course you don’t do that. Not you. But people do it, and they are not from outer space. They are of us.

Or it’s kick the dog out, leave them by the highway to get killed in the traffic. And the dog goes splat. What a satisfying sound. Too bad the driver killing the dog can’t hear. I bet the sound is why some drivers actually try to run the dog over. They do, and you may be friends with some of them sick fucks. Or it’s dump the dog’s ass at the nearest shelter if you’re, say, considerate. Or throw the dog in somebody’s yard. Sometimes it’s even starve them to death and see how they go. Hey, don’t look at me, I don’t do it. Fine, you don’t do it either. And yet people do it.

Almost forgot: Then there’s the planned and systematically carried out mass killing of dogs (and other animals) at shelters worldwide, including of course in America and Europe. This was going on at the Polish shelter I volunteered at years ago and it’s still the norm. You want someone killed off? Call them a surplus population. Hide your indolence behind the fact that “there’s just too many of them.” While No Kill shelters are gaining some ground, mass killing is still the norm. And shelters are definitely of us. We set them up and fund them.

But dogs can be fucked in far more subtle ways too, and this sort of being fucked is currently on the rise. For a while a new class of folks have been around who have taken to new ways of making dogs miserable. These people have often just taken out a mortgage for 40 years on an apartment and leased an SUV and moved to a new neighborhood that stomped out the remnants of free space somewhere and, well, they need something to do after completing the day’s tasks at the corporate office. These clueless corporate puppets, docile and neat and out to own and control something, anything. So they get a dog to stuff the emptiness that is their deepest essence full with an additional piece of property. Crib/ride/dog — see the pattern?

Problem is these people seem to have no clue about how to take care of dogs because they most often didn’t grow up around them. Upon seeing a dog in the park as kids they probably went aaargh and broke into tears and ran away to pee in their pants as their parents looked on in terror. And these people, like maybe no one else, believe in the power or experts. They have been taught to trust it, they have been taught to become experts themselves in some narrow shit-field and now they form a part of the system of expert power sincerely and with full dedication.

And now this naive, aspiring bourgeois opens the door for a dog training expert to come in. The dog trainers are here. They have been making dogs tame and usable for cops and military and rescue teams and blind people and whoever the fuck else, putting the dogs at risk and in danger, putting the dogs to work that never benefited them except by getting food from the master’s table. Forever a slave, man, forever a slave. And now the trainers will tell the aspiring corpo-puppet yuppie fuckwads all they need to know to control those naughty, unwieldy impulses of their newly acquired canine assets. They will tell them how to bribe the dog, break the dog, set the dog straight, make the dog do what they want and seem to want to do just that and forget most of whatever’s left of their dwindling dog natures. The dog will be structured to death. It’s a new thing, see: death by structure. It happens to human adults, obviously. It happens to human children. And now it’s there for dogs. We just can’t leave things alone, can we? Earth would rip at the seems and spill its poisoned guts on the rest of the solar system. Praise the free world!

How they don’t fucking understand.

They are squeezing the life of these joy-loving creatures. These dog trainers are committing a grave offence and the dog owners are letting them and asking them to do it. Together they making the trace geometrical figures on the grass on an invisible leash next to an irresponsible ape’s leg, because hey, maybe a dog exhibition is a good idea. It never is. The stupid shit they make dogs do there for their own amusement and self-gratification gives lie to all the pretence that dog training is there to benefit the dogs. Even outside of that twisted circus, these people will still take perverse and quiet pleasure in curtailing and ultimately breaking the spontaneity of an animal that normally does not give a fuck about straight lines and is wonderfully messy and loves balls-out fun.

Dogs were taken out of a wild state and brought into a world in which they are confused about who and what they are. And this world is now becoming populated with the trainers and owners joined in their scheme to exploit the dogs’ need for togetherness and belonging, systematically breaking their resistance to this stupidity by probing their love of food and feeling with snack bribery and affective deprivation, tying dogs to trees and making them wait there for fuck knows what and bark their asses off until the trainer decides the time is right to let the dog off.

A while back I came across a couple training their dogs in the middle of a meadow in a park nearby by making one of them chase a frisby as the other two were locked away in cages the owners had brought to the park. The dogs that were locked away were whining and whimpering to be let out, going all crazy on account of not being able to get at the frisby. When I confronted those dummies on what the fuck they thought they were doing, they said they were quietening the dogs. Such subtlety in their cruelty. Oh how I wished to quieten the owners then and there. To silence them, actually.

You might say I am mischaracterizing dog training, that there is bad training and good dog training, that there are noble goals to good dog training run by responsible people. Bullshit. At the root of all dog training is the basic if unspoken principle that dogs are there to serve, that their domesticated servility is natural and commendable, and that you have the right to deepen it. The physical, technological, and psychological domination humans have assumed over dogs may make you think all this and a lot of people actually think this way.

Yes, dogs are a dominated species and it is dog owners and trainers that are doing much of the dominating. Dogs are being turned into drones. Their will is being hijacked. The owners have gone from not giving a shit to controlling the dogs’ every move, and trainers are there to help them and keep the  business going. This is some evil shit at work right here.

My dogs and I argue often enough. We test one another’s boundaries and see what we can get away with. Sometimes it gets on my nerves and so what. Compromises and some structure are needed, as they are in any relationship. But structure must not be formalized into a straightjacket at the dogs’ expense. Ever. All this training shabang grows on the heels of a trend that would have us believe we all need to go see therapists. No, we don’t. Society is upside down and so people are going crazy, sure. But experts and reduction of life to expert knowledge are a symptom of society’s disease, not the cure.

If you want to have anything to do with dogs, provide them with refuge from this mess. Help them survive in a hostile human world while retaining what is left of their spontaneity and cheerfulness. Don’t use dogs — love them and respect them. I know this is a tough one for many people now because no expert in the world can teach you love and respect. So if you can somehow still figure this out for yourself, great. And if this is too much to ask of you, leave dogs the fuck alone.

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“The dog knows”

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