Thursday, June 13, 2013

Which Dog Do You Feed?

The puppies next door, Packer and Harley

I love animals, cats (we have two), gerbils (we have one), dogs (none yet, but I think I'm wearing my husband down :D), cows, horses. Even these guys (sorry, Jo Hansen, may you rest in peace, but I'm still crazy about raccoons):

Awww--isn't he cute?

Everyone in my family thinks I'm crazy to spend time watching the puppy cams on Watching puppies grow up and receive training to become service dogs for wounded veterans opens my heart. I overdose on their cuteness.

Unfortunately, some of the puppy lovers bring along their ambivalent attitudes about human beings. I admit to this myself. Some days I like animals better than people. It's easy to love someone who doesn't talk back, and who looks at you with huge, soulful eyes. A few of the commenters on Dog Bless You have forgotten that the primary attraction is the pups and their moms. Instead they want to make unflattering comparisons between the different organizations Explore features on its website. I find that as offensive as comparing the child-rearing abilities of parents. Raising young things is the most creative work people can do. There are better practices than others, for sure. But if you're going to appoint yourself judge and jury, make sure that you're seeing and hearing everything in 3-D, not from a computer screen, before you make any decisions.

When people on the Dog Bless You comment section call out the critical folks, they reply that they have the right to express their opinion. OK, fine. So open up a Blogger or Wordpress account and express away. But don't bother me and the others who simply want to love on the pups and the people, many of them volunteers, who are raising the babies with your critical, unflattering comparisons. No one who's watching a computer screen can seriously believe that they can see the whole of the operation, and therefore have the right to express an uninformed opinion. Because they don't. This is rife in political discourse as well. People go straight to trash talk before they even have a clue about the subject. This highlights one of the reasons I sometimes prefer animals to people--an unattractive tendency to seek, and to inevitably find, what is wrong in any given scenario.

When I was in teacher training, one of my professors was fond of pointing out how no one needs any training to notice students' disruptive behaviors. Looking for these same students' positive behaviors, or as he called it, "to catch 'em being good," requires much more finesse. Some students are conditioned to act out because they consistently receive attention for it, whereas their good deeds are taken for granted. "Which behavior do you want to reinforce?" he would ask.

To put it more poetically, here is a bit of Native American wisdom: "Inside of me are two dogs. The Black Dog is mean and angry; the White Dog is good and kind. The Black Dog fights the White Dog all day. Which one wins? The one I feed the most."

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