My dog hunts. You got a problem with that?
Mon, 09/27/2021 - 6:55pm

Dogs Don’t Care About Being Politically Correct

And neither, it seems, do a lot of dog people

One of the characteristics of an investigative reporter, or the good ones anyway, is a low threshold of indignation and outrage. It doesn’t usually take big problems to get us stirred up to write about something we perceive as an injustice. 

Still, as I’ve gotten older and more experienced, some might say “jaded,” it has gotten tougher to find issues that are irritating enough to summon the desire to get up on the soapbox. However, the political-correctness police, whose mission in life seems to be meddling in and disrupting other people’s lives, provides sufficient prodding for me to make that climb, especially when it affects dog ownership and the right of dog owners to participate in lawful activities or sports.

It’s difficult to anticipate these days when something you might innocently say will get you in hot water with what seems to be an inordinate number of people looking for reasons to be affronted or feel aggrieved. It seems like everything, including something as harmless as having a dog, is objectionable to some folks.

It used to be only cat people who found dog owners offensive. Now, however, it seems just about anyone can take umbrage when you say you “own” Fido or Rover – at most, in their view, you can only be considered Fido’s or Rover’s “guardian”– and God forbid that you should mention that you hunt with your dog or even, for that matter, do any dog sport with him/her. That is sufficient reason to exile you to permanent “pariahdom.”    

Fortunately, dogs are oblivious to the artificial world of politics and they don’t care about political correctness, only about companionship. Dogs are only interested in the next meal, the next ear scratch or tummy rub, the next petting session, the next opportunity to play with you or, in the case of my dog, the next chance to find and fetch birds.  

The Black and Tan Coonhound guy gets shivers up and down his spine when he hears the hound’s changeover vocalization when he goes from trailing to treeing.  

 

Many of the people with whom I’ve had a friendship have shared that same bird-finding interest with their dogs or something similar in the case of my Hound and Terrier-owning pals whose dogs love chasing critters, both large and small. I know a woman who gets positively giddy when her Westie presents her with a mouse, rat or chipmunk that he has ferreted out and dispatched. Another man I know says he gets shivers up and down his spine when he hears his Black and Tan Coonhound’s vocalization change as the dog goes from trailing to treeing.

But that’s straying off point which is that two dog-owning people who perhaps don’t agree on much of anything except, possibly, that the sun rises in the east, can talk to each other about their dogs at length and never have the slightest disagreement. Talking about dogs with another dog person lets you cut across partisanship, income inequality, abortion, gay rights, immigration law, pandemics and all the other issues that divide us these days. 

Over the years, I have hunted with or talked with literally hundreds of dog owners whose views likely covered the entire political spectrum. In all that time, our many conversations dealt with a wide range of subjects but never with anything that could remotely be considered politically correct. Perhaps, in the case of hunters, this was because all understood that it just isn’t prudent to get into heated arguments with people who are not only armed but may be better shots than you are. More likely, however, it was because to people engaged in dog sports such topics simply were not relevant to the task at hand.  

Unfortunately, no matter how careful you are, it doesn’t create an immunity to attacks by the political correctness police. These perpetually offended busybodies seem to be opposed to anyone doing anything with their dogs especially if it looks like fun.  Anybody, dog or human, having fun or enjoying what they’re doing seems to be an anathema to these folks and MUST. BE. STOPPED.

 

Terriers are born to hunt critters, as this groundhog-stalking West Highland White Terrier would attest.

 

Some examples, and they were not even the most egregious, cited by dog owners: A guy I know spent a morning hunting geese in Minnesota with his Golden Retriever and stopped for lunch in one of the little towns in the southwest corner of the state. This is a rural area where things like the first and second amendments to the U.S. Constitution are very important to the people who live there. It’s not someplace you’d think would be sympathetic to political correctness. Not so, as the hunter discovered. Those scolds seem to be everywhere nowadays. 

While he left almost everything that would have stamped him as a hunter in the truck, he forgot to leave his whistles which had several waterfowl leg bands clamped around the lanyard. That oversight proved to be troublesome when the waitress asked about the whistles and the silver bands. Not expecting a response other than “Have any luck hunting” in that area of the state, he gave her a truthful answer. 

She immediately tore into him, loudly demanding to know among other things how anyone could possibly be so cruel and crude as to even consider training a dog to do anything let alone to hunt. Even worse, in her view, he was allowing the dog to actually find birds and retrieve them.

To this diatribe, she also appended several comments about the likely marital status of his parents at the time of his conception along with other obscenities and disparaging remarks about his character. This was to someone who she had first laid eyes on roughly a minute ago when she handed him a menu. 

Shaking his head in disbelief as he recounted the story, the hunter said he hadn’t been chewed out and publicly embarrassed like that since the time he’d made the mistake of calling his rifle a “gun” in front of a Marine Corps gunnery sergeant at the USMC’s Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Va.   

While not the lightning rod that hunters and their dogs have become, other jobs dogs do are also frowned upon by the perpetually offended. A woman I know uses her Australian Shepherd to move cattle around on her farm. One day, while she and the dog were taking some Angus from one pasture to another, a guy passing by her farm saw her and the dog engaged in this task. He instantly stopped his vehicle, jumped out and proceeded to berate her for letting her vicious dog chase those poor little cows. 

Now, for those unfamiliar with bovine breeds, the average black Angus weighs 950 to 1,000 pounds compared to the Aussie Shepherd’s roughly 60 pounds, so right there it was a mismatch strongly favoring the cattle. What’s more, even though Angus are a polled (hornless) breed, they’re not exactly defenseless when it comes to a contest with a dog. They can and do kick and if they get a dog down, will pound it into the ground.

But the offended motorist ripped the lady up one side and down the other, even though the dog was doing nothing more than keeping the stock moving. She said that she assumed the six years she spent as an officer in the United States Navy had exposed her to every possible profane word in the English language, but she was wrong, because her assailant used words she had not only had never heard but she also had no idea what they meant although she was certain the meaning wasn’t complimentary. She added somewhat pensively, “I wonder if it would have made any difference to him if he had known I’d spent six years defending, among other things, the right of people to disagree?  Probably not.”

A lady I interviewed about a year ago recounted an unsettling experience she had while doing agility training in her yard with her Bernese Mountain Dog. She was working on a problem the dog had with the contact area on the teeter by rewarding him with praise and treats when he did the teeter correctly and simply telling him “No” and withholding the treats when he did it incorrectly. She said it was clear that the dog was having fun as his tail was constantly wagging and he was bouncing around with enthusiasm as she alternated teeter work with weaves, jumps and a tunnel. 

 

A Bernese Mountain Dog doing agility on the front lawn prompted a neighbor to call the police and report animal abuse.

 

But about 15 minutes into the training session, a police car pulled up and the officer said they had received a report from one of her neighbors about a dog being abused. It was obvious to the police officer from the minute he arrived on the scene that the dog wasn’t being abused and was, in fact, having a great time working and playing with his owner. She later found out that the complainant was an activist involved in multiple cases, including being a member of an extreme animal-rights organization as well as holding political views far more radical than those of Josef Stalin and Chairman Mao who also had, on several occasions, tried to convince the city council to ban all companion animals.    

Saying that these dog owners were nonplused by the vehemence of their attackers or in the case of the BMD owner, that someone would call the police over an innocuous activity like agility training, would be an understatement. These stories made me wonder first whatever happened to the idea of keeping your nose out of things that clearly were none of your business. That led me to ponder the question of what sort of satisfaction these folks get from messing with others’ lives. Finally, I wondered if the reason these dog owners didn’t react in kind to their attackers was the result of the well-documented, blood pressure-lowering effect dogs have on people and that they had quickly determined that someone needed to be the adult in that situation. Perhaps it was something as simple as not having the time or the inclination to get all worked up over what were cases of bad manners or bad temperament.

So, I decided to do a little informal survey to see if someone’s political views mattered with regard to the thing that is really important to people doing dog sports, their trainers. The first one I asked if she would drop her agility trainer if she found out that person had voted for someone other than her preferred candidate in the last election was a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever lady who is a serious agility competitor

She responded first with a look that clearly indicated she thought I’d taken leave of my senses to even ask such an idiotic question and then said that she could think of several different reasons why someone might drop a trainer – not making progress, a trainer unable to communicate effectively with either her or her dog, a trainer who didn’t particularly want to work with or was incapable of working with her breed. But discovering for whom that trainer had cast their ballot in the last presidential election was definitely not one of them. 

One opinion, however, was not adequate even for this informal survey, so I asked a woman I know who is closing in on a herding championship with her dog the same question. 

She gave me an incredulous look, laughed and when she finally stopped laughing said, “As a matter of fact, I know who my trainer supported in the last presidential election and it wasn’t who I voted for. But he has taken me from someone who hardly knew the difference between a sheep and a cow to having a dog that almost has his HC. If he turned out to be Satan himself, I’m not sure I’d fire him and certainly not until my dog finished his herding championship.”

 

Dogs don't care about your political persuasion; they just want to do the jobs they were genetically programmed to do.

 

When I tallied up the responses to this question from more than two dozen people active in dog sports, I’d received essentially the same answer from everyone. That was, if the trainer knew his/her stuff and was helping them make progress with their dog in whatever sport they were doing, that trainer could be a political ally of Attila the Hun and it wouldn’t matter.

It’s reassuring, in a way, to have gotten those responses in an era where everything else seems to be a source of discord and politicization. Apparently, people who do things with their dogs, at least so far, have better things to do with their time and remain an island of relative sanity in a world gone completely insane politically.

 

 

 

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