Thursday, January 3, 2013

Freedom? Or Negligence?

Take a moment and read this article: Hold Tight? Or Unleash?. Don't worry, I'll wait.

Finished? Do you feel kind of ambivalent? Perhaps a little disgusted?

The article, should you decide not to read it, is written by a woman, Lissa Rankin, whose 6 month old puppy was struck and killed on the  road out behind her house, because (to paraphrase), said dog hated her leash and clearly wanted to be a country dog. The property is not fenced, and the author was inside preparing for a teleclass, when the poor man who struck said dog with his car called her, remorseful.

The author continues on, talking about how the dog, Bezoar (which I found to be a strange name, as "A bezoar is a ball of swallowed foreign material (usually hair or fiber) that collects in the stomach and fails to pass through the intestines." [PubMed Health]) could have been kept inside that day, much like how parents of the children at Sandy Hook might have kept their children home from school that day.

WHAT?





There is a tremendous difference between being a responsible dog owner who supervises her dog and keeps her in a proven to be safely enclosed area when the dog may not be supervised and the parents of children who died in a school shooting. Maybe some of it is based on assumptions? We assume, when we send children to school, that they will be safe. We assume, when a dog is in our backyard, the dog will be safe. This is the only way I can rationalize these statements.

Assumptions are dangerous, though. You cannot assume that a 6 month old puppy will stay in your unfenced back yard. You cannot assume that a puppy you evidently did not leash train (because she "hated" it) will stay near your house and away from your road. You cannot assume that somebody will stop in time. You cannot assume that somebody won't come along and steal your little dog, so that you never ever find out what happens to her. Freedom is one thing; negligence is another. If you feel like it, you can read the comments at the bottom of Rankin's article; many (perhaps most?) of those commenting seem to be in agreement with me.

I don't doubt that Lissa Rankin loved her puppy, that isn't what I'm saying. There is a certain level of responsibility that one assumes (there's that word again) when being a dog owner. Or a parent. As a parent, you teach your children life skills that they will need, and you hope to teach them discernment and decision making. Allowing your child to go to school is a given, not exactly a comparable risk to turning her loose in the wilderness without the skill set or supervision to make good decisions and survive. There's a difference between living in a paranoid bubble and being safe. A simple fence, while still not foolproof (gates might get left open, a bored unsupervised puppy might dig out) is a good preventative measure. The dog can still be "free", while contained. I don't believe in leaving dogs chained out, certainly.

Towards the end of the article, ruminating on the notions of freedom and control, Rankin says: "But I believe it’s worth it to live an unleashed life – even today, in the wake of this loss that might have been prevented."

I do hope that she doesn't decide to get another dog. That would be the ultimate loss prevention strategy in this instance.


32 comments:

  1. Woof! Woof!Surely lots of very interesting topics as a dog owner/lover... My mom is very protective of me. When I was a puppy she was super protective. So wrong and we read all the 97 comments. She's a bit famous author/person (but we never heard of her). Also, she should have not compared hr experience with the SH tragedy. Golden Thanks for sharing ... Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

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    1. I'd never heard of her either, but apparently she's given at least one TED talk as well? So odd.

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  2. At first I wondered if that was some kind of spoof. Strangest thing I have read on the net in a long time.

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    1. I wish I could believe it was a spoof; even in poor taste, I think I could have taken it a little better than her earnestness.

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  3. I'm flabbergasted. I can't believe it. A six month old puppy. The dog didn't like the leash? I don't like working for a living but I have to. The dog can be unleashed when you are outside to supervise them, and at the very least (if she doesn't want to put it on a leash, an invisible fence) unless someone is outside with it.

    Then I went over and read the story of her five year-old daughter's "Grand Adventure" and I got an idea of what this woman was really about.

    It's possible to live life unleashed but with boundaries, she clearly doesn't know how to set them and then to drag the Sandy Hook tragedy into the story.....it's so irresponsible.

    What saddens me most is that people will actually follow this blog and think this woman has something valuable to add to their lives. I don't think she does.

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    1. Oh goodness...I hadn't read the Great Adventure post.

      "Long story short, the kids were finally released into our care without CPS involvement, but not until after the ranger issued us a $275 ticket."

      Kids. Not just her own. She's endangering SOMEBODY' ELSE'S child as well! Words fail.

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  4. This makes me very sad. The poor man that hit the puppy will live with this the rest of his life....how unfair! I'm of the put up a fence for God's sake ilk. Also as the mom of many dogs and only one puppy, he ate anything and everything at that age. Is it even safe to leave him outside unattended at that age?

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    1. I don't feel it's safe to leave a 6 month old puppy unattended outside, no. Not unless he or she is in an ex pen or something, which apparently is a crime against puppiness. I'm so sad for that guy as well; this isn't just about the author and her family, it's about the other people that have been affected as well.

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  5. Momma is saying HBO words again. Ridiculous
    Benny & Lily

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    1. It's sad to have to say HBO words (in a non funny way.....I say them in a funny way pretty frequently, I'd say).

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  6. Tsk Tsk at comparing unleashed dogs killed by their own immature decisions to human children murdered in an enclosed safe haven. Yes, it's sad to lose a pup to accidents. But, there are plenty of tools and actions out there to let a dog feel free and be safely restrained. It took me almost 4 years before I would regularly let my dog off leash because he was too immature to handle it. In fact, I almost bought a flexi lead so he could "run free" and still be restrained.

    While I feel bad for the owner, she really needs to take responsibility and work creatively to make a good compromise instead of viewing the world in terms of "either this or that". Freedom vs living inside a bubble is not a black-and-white issue like what she makes it out to be.

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    1. I don't let Elka off leash in an unfenced area, because we haven't trained for it and I honestly don't know how reliable she would be. "Safety" should not be a dirty word in any context, not should "responsibility".

      You are exactly correct, Freedom vs. Bubble are not the only options.

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  7. Holy cow. I couldn't read the whole thing. I'm a big advocate of freedom within limits. Indoor/outdoor - ongoing question here. But not to have a fence and leave a dog outside? I ... crap. Really? And she's not learning from this? My favorite chicken was killed by a hawk because I let the girls free roam in my fenced backyard. I learned. Now the birds are only allowed out while I supervise. It sucks. I stand outside twice a day, in the freezing Oklahoma wind or blazing sun, making sure hawks stay away, giving the birds the freedom to roam and scratch.

    Pretty sure I wouldn't let a two year old child play in the unfenced backyard all day because I didn't feel like fencing or keeping them in the house.

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    1. That is both tiresome and awesome for you to be your chickens' guardian like that. I'm sure they thank you in fantastic eggs!

      Yes, it we want to continue to the dog to child correlation, I also would not leave a 2 year old outside attended. But, as Jodi pointed out, the "Great Adventure" that the author's daughter took was when she was 5, unattended in the back yard, and with somebody else's child as well.

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  8. I couldn't finish it either. I kept thinking about the poor man who hit the dog, not something he will ever forget. How selfish to do that to another person.

    I have had experiences of driving in the country and having dogs chase my car and I get so angry at the people putting me and their dogs in that situation.

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    1. A dog in the road is a physical danger to other people who have not made the same "choice for freedom" that the author has made, in addition to being an emotional minefield. I do feel so bad for the man as well, especially because he was clearly a good guy, actually stopping for the puppy, and calling the owner. Some people never stop.

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  9. OMD. WTF?????? What the hell is wrong with peeps?! %@#$%*@#$!!!!
    I hopes for all of animal kind, that this numbnutt sticks to the stuffed variety of pet.

    Kisses,
    Ruby

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    1. It's especially disheartening to me that so many of the commenters agree with her. Yeah, sure, you can't help it if your puppy wants to be free!

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  10. I need to go back and read the comments. I was so amazed, I just closed it and returned. A 6 mon old puppy has NO judgment, not to know boundaries, not to know squat. I have a dog who roams off leash; he goes with God everyday; my yard is fenced with a in-ground electric fence, too; he jumped through the shock - sigh. Shiloh is an adult dog with street sense. It's not a good option :(. Everyone else respects the fence (well, except for my diggers but we're working on that).
    That poor man who killed the puppy who should at least have been in an X-pen. Thank God he called her but now what does he live with?
    Her entire attitude is live or be killed - but don't fence me in. I haven't heard of her and won't read her books.
    I fear for her child.

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    1. I never heard of her before reading that article either. I also fear for that child, who through at least one article linked to the one I provided has already gone off on her own unsupervised, requiring a search team. At age 5. The author's husband is apparently of a similar mindset, I guess.

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  11. I could not agree with you more. Although I work incredibly hard to train my dogs to be outside *with me* off-leash, I would never never never just open the door and let my dogs out to wander.

    Yet, I live in a rural area where lots of people do just that. I absolutely cannot believe it. I capture their dogs, and I call the owners to come pick them up. The reply that I sometimes get? You won't believe it - the owners tell me to let their dogs loose again because "they'll find their way home". That reply triggers a trip to our local no-kill shelter with the dogs... Don't worry - I call the shelter daily to make sure that the dogs either make it home or find a new home.

    I don't understand how people don't love their dogs enough to take care of them and protect them from early death.

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    1. It's interesting to me, the different dog owning mindsets. I know that even 50 years ago, a large percentage of dog owners were probably of the "let 'em out in the morning and let 'em back in at night" sect, and that's if the dog wasn't tied out back to the dog house or whatever. Heck, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas does that with her dogs when they lived in/just outside Boston, and she's apparently fairly respected, or has been in the past.

      There are perhaps times when I'm overly concerned with safety. I think there are worse things to be accused of, however.

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  12. Amen! I haven't read the article yet, but your commentary has me fired up now so I will have to go read it. Ugh! People I just don't get them sometimes.

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    1. I'd prefer it was fiction, really. I almost expected to double check the URL and realize it was on The Onion.

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  14. No words for this.
    And indeed, she can just go out and get another dog.
    It shouldn't be allowed, it is animal cruelty.

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    1. It IS animal cruelty. Through negligence, she's pretty much guaranteeing dogs' deaths on that highway, because sooner or later, even if it isn't the first day out, that's the direction one will go in.

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  15. This statement of yours sums my feelings up exactly. "WHAT?"

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    1. There are times articulation fails.

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  16. There's also the legal side of this to consider--children are legally required to be educated, either at home or in a school. Dogs? They are legally required *not* to be out in the road. Thus, no comparison.

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    1. Yes! Thank you for putting that so succinctly.

      I kind of got fired up and ranted incredulously instead.

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  17. I couldn't get past the "I can’t help wondering whether this is somehow my fault and whether Bezoar’s death might have been prevented." After yelling "STOP WONDERING, THE ANSWER'S YES!!" I had to quit. Sorry. My blood pressure medicine can only control so much . . .

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