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November 08, 2012 8:39 am

MY LOUSY WORLD: Do you love or ‘own’ your dog?

Written by Doug Blough

It’s a small world, and the canine world is no exception. Two weeks ago, my elderly, gimpy, but still studly dog, Trinity and I were again separated for a long, lonely night. He wandered away from Tony Jolovich’s Lane 17 farm while I shingled. His aging hips make mobility difficult, but he was gone and Tony’s tenacious search proved fruitless.

Neither hide nor hair, or even a bark was heard from my 90-pound, 14-year-old best friend, as darkness ended the search.

A second, early-morning search was equally futile and two caring friends and I verged on giving up when Tony pulled in and said, “Let me check with one more neighbor.” He returned announcing, “He’s over there, fenced inside Winninger’s yard.”

As I rushed to hug Trinity, I noticed a fetching young woman approaching. She introduced herself as Lacy, who was at her parents’ house the previous night and heard Trinity rustling in the leaves outside. She did everything right: she secured him in the yard, made the proper lost dog calls, and gave Trinity food, water and safety.

When I mentioned my Powell Tribune column, Lacy chirped, “Oh, my roommate Tessa is the editor.” Small world, I tell ya. I promised Trinity I’d pass along this message to Lacy, “Thank you so much for your kindness. Should I ever find you wandering aimlessly in our leaves, I’ll return the favor. I must warn you though: our townhouse doesn’t smell nearly as good as your parents’ farm.”

But how many dog owners — the literal “owner” type who demand complete control and obedience — would beat an old dog with the audacity to wander away? And how many neighbors would have ignored, or even shot my dog for trespassing on their precious property?

And that’s my point today: the wide range of human-to-pet attitudes so prevalent. True animal lovers cringe upon hearing of pet mistreatment, for the same reason we scramble to change the channel when those haunting abuse commercials hijack the TV. Something I witnessed last spring still haunts me in spite of dogged efforts to purge the memory. Please indulge me, since this example serves to differentiate between loving discipline and just plain, ego-driven cruelty.

I went to measure a rebuilt roof on a house that had burned. As I drove the winding, rural driveway, several small dogs followed my truck, yapping at my own excited dogs. It was cute, as I told the husband/wife sitting inside a lean-to with two young, burly cowboys. Then I saw one of them stomping toward a fancy rodeo pickup, carrying a small dog by the neck, beating it on the head with each step. The screams that poor Jack Russell omitted after each crunching blow still haunts my sleep five months later.

In shock, I glanced at the other three, who showed absolutely no reaction. After about the fifth of many brutal cracks, I appealed to the onlookers but got only indifferent stares. When the beating continued unabated, I gasped, “Alright. That’s enough already!” That also was ignored by all, as the thug administered a couple more savage blows before violently flinging the dazed dog into the truck cab.

Their son and the macho abuser immediately departed for their Montana home, obviously miffed at my woefully-inadequate protest. I was further stunned by the couple’s — well-regarded locals who I could see treat their own dogs and horses well — defense of the beating. “We knew you were upset, but it almost ran under your tire and didn’t come when he called. He lives on a large ranch and ranch dogs have to mind.”

If that “whipped dog” minds next time, it might be because he’s no longer a playful dog; he’s simply terrified of the next beating. Most likely though, the brain damage that pummeling must have caused would prevent any association between the tiny offense and the monumental punishment.

Did that poor dog even hear the command? To inflict such a relentless beating in front of a perfect stranger tells me it was just one in a countless series. Just one of those many blows connecting to an ear surely would deafen a small dog.

They said, “He really does love his dog; he’d be crushed if something happened to it.” But something DID happen to it. It was savagely beaten for joining the other dogs in doing what dogs do. Love does not inflict terror and brutality and love does not slam a dog into a truck after so-called “discipline.” Egotistical rage does that.  

I know the homeowners are good people, because I know many good people who call them friends. But the old adage about good people witnessing evil and doing nothing fits perfectly. And their son will be judged by the company he keeps, although I’m trying hard not to.

I too am guilty for not doing more, but had I tried it solo, my own dogs would have witnessed my victimization. Thirty-five years younger and 75 pounds heavier can easily kill. Still, I failed that helpless dog and have to live with it. I have to live with the entire memory, and I’m saddened that my own dogs — that seemed strangely quiet and listless the rest of that day — had to witness it.

Do you love your dog like a family member? Or do you own your dog like a work tool? The difference between the two is like Heaven and Hell.

1 Comment

  • Comment Link November 11, 2012 2:02 pm posted by CAROL LASSEY

    MY GIRLS AS I PREFER TO CALL THEM ARE NOT DOGS, THEY ARE MY FAMILY, FRIENDS, AN ROOM MATES. THEY SLEEP ON THE BED ARE MOSTLY VEGETARIANS AND USE THEIR OWN DOOR TO GO IN AND OUT. I DON'T NEAT THEM BUT HOLD THEIR HEAD FIRMLY AND LOOK THEM IN THE EYE WHEN THEY ARE BAD. AFTER A FEW SECONDS OF TELLING THEM NOT TO DO THAT AGAIN, THEY ARE WELL MANNERED TILL THE NEIGHBORS DOGS INCITED A ROWSING GOOD BARK SESSION. THEIR FAVORITE TREAT ARE BABY CARROTS. ALL IN ALL MY GIRLS ARE THE BEST AS THEY ARE YORKSHIRE TERRIORS. that guy should of been beaten!!!

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