Let Slip the Dogs of Quarantine

Kristin Devine

Kristin has humbly retired as Ordinary Times' friendly neighborhood political whipping girl to focus on culture and gender issues. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of https://atomicfeminist.com/

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45 Responses

  1. I really liked this post. On tangential note, I’ll say that the major reason I haven’t (and probably won’t) get a dog is I live in an apartment and just don’t have the space that I think a dog should have. In normal times, I also don’t have the time, either. (However, the new normal might mean I’ll lose my job. Hasn’t happened yet, but it’s in the cards.)

    I had a philosophy professor once who argued that each kind of animal has its special end, or “telos,” and that one basis for ethical treatment of animals is to recognize their telos and do what you can to fulfill it. By that standard, you’re doing exactly the right thing by making your dogs “work,” because that’s part of their telos.Report

    • Thank you so much for reading!!! I have thus far been very pleased with how the two of them keep each other company and wear each other out when we’re not available to play. Rather surprisingly, the transition has been way easier with these guys than Emma, even though there was only one of her. But if you didn’t want to have ONE dog in an apartment, you probably wouldn’t want two either, LOL.Report

  2. You’ll probably get some pushback on your comments about pit bulls, but not from me. I realize, from people who know more than I that “most” pit bulls are gentle animals and that [name whatever safe-looking breed you can think of] is supposedly much worse. Still, if I had to be bitten by a dog, I’d usually prefer it be by [name whatever safe-looking breed you can think of] than by a pit bull. I’ve also heard one person insist that pit bulls’ reputation has nothing to do with nature and everything to do with nurture. I find it hard to buy that, especially because the nature vs. nurture debate hasn’t been resolved when it comes to humans. If we can’t settle the issue with humans, then why are we able to settle it with dogs?

    (By the way, I realize you’re speaking more about irresponsible pit bull owners and not about pit bulls as a breed. So I’m imputing words/arguments to you that you’re not necessarily using.)


    • Yes, I probably could have been clearer about that. I’m not against pit bulls as a breed, just that we couldn’t have one for a variety of reasons (terriers of all stripes were off the list, even the cute little guys like Jack Russells). It was more that there were SO many pit bulls being sold, it was practically the only dog avalable for less than $1000 with only a few exceptions.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to gabriel conroy says:

      If we can’t settle the issue with humans, then why are we able to settle it with dogs?

      Longer generation times and stricter ethical requirements make it much harder to do good experiments with humans than with dogs. For some reason an ERB won’t let you take a pair of twins from their parents at birth and assign each one to a different family. And even if they did you’d have to wait 18+ years to get the results.

      Not sure if those experiments actually have been done with dogs, but in principle it should be much easier to investigate these questions in dogs than in humans.Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        There’s also a lot of ideological resistance to investigating heritability of cognitive and behavioral traits in humans by any means at all. Curiously, much of this comes from people who express a high degree of confidence that heritability for these traits is low. I wonder why they object to studies that they expect to provide evidence for the correctness of their beliefs.Report

      • @Brandon Berg:

        Sorry, I just now noticed this comment. I guess I agree that in principle it should be easier to test in dogs, for the reasons you state. I strongly suspect, though, that the issue isn’t settled as concerns dogs. However, last I checked, I don’t have a degree in animal science or whatever science would investigate such things.

        There’s also a lot of ideological resistance to investigating heritability of cognitive and behavioral traits in humans by any means at all. Curiously, much of this comes from people who express a high degree of confidence that heritability for these traits is low. I wonder why they object to studies that they expect to provide evidence for the correctness of their beliefs.

        Speaking as someone who has some of that resistance, I can say I’m not at all confident that such studies would prove that point. I suspect a certain portion of cognitive and behavioral traits are heritable.

        To be sure, my “resistance” is more like wariness about how the conclusions of such studies would be used than what they would show.Report

  3. Em Carpenter says:

    Yay, puppies!! Your new friends are adorable.
    Question- do they not have animal shelters where you live? Not “rescues” but, like, the pound?
    I call my dogs rescues but we “rescued” them from life in a shelter, not a breed specific rescue organization. For $100 fee for each and a few questions (no home visit) we have a couple of awesome hound mixes. One was a pup when when got him, the other was already around 2. They’re great dogs.
    They work, too. My backyard is no longer a safe haven for the rabbits and squirrels of the neighborhood.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Em Carpenter says:

      If you want a pit mix or a chihuahua mix then shelters are great, otherwise, not so much.Report

      • Em Carpenter in reply to DensityDuck says:

        There are definitely a lot of those, especially the pit mixes. But also a lot of mutts of various origins. Mine are beagles mixed with who knows what. It’s worth checking. I can’t post pictures so I changed my avatar to them :).Report

    • We were checking the pound sites both in our county and where we used to live. I think we were forcibly limited by needing to know the estimated size the dog would be (if we got a puppy, that is), needing to know going in if it had bad habits like killing chickens, and wanting to avoid any breeds that weren’t good with chickens/cats. This left out terrier mixes, Aussie shepherd/cattle dog, pit bull/Rottweiler mixes, huskies, German Shepherds (though we would have been flexible on the last one, we never saw one go by that wasn’t mixed with something else we couln’t have). Our circumstances did absolutely make it more difficult to find a dog than it needed to be, it was simply that the hunt for a dog got me thinking about how funny it was to be having such a hard time finding a dog to adopt. 🙂Report

  4. Jaybird says:

    One of my twitter follows is feeding the momma of a new litter of kitties and, when they mentioned that they’re probably going to put the new cats up for adoption after they’ve been weaned, I sent a little DM saying “if you’re an hour from Colorado Springs, I’d like to have a conversation about adopting one”.

    I realized that I should have talked to Maribou first and went and told her and she told me “you should have asked for two…”

    Of course, the person is not an hour from Colorado Springs. Like, not even in the same state. Bummer.

    But we’ve officially moved from “long term nebulous plans entail getting a couple more cats” to “medium term plans entail getting a couple more cats”.Report

    • Kristin Devine in reply to Jaybird says:

      I was just sitting and thinking “you know, now that the weather has turned what we really need is a couple more cats!” We’re fortunate to have the space for lots of furry friends. I hope it works out for you guys!Report

    • gabriel conroy in reply to Jaybird says:

      My living situation can accommodate cats better than dogs. And I’ve thought about getting one, because I love cats. There would be a few things to work through. We don’t have a/c and the weather gets REALLY hot in Big City, and I’m not sure how well a cat would fare.

      Also, I’m not sure I’m up to taking it to the vet, etc. That’s on me. But I really don’t want to take responsibility for an animal unless, you know, I can take responsibility for it. In the past, I was spoiled because I had roommates who had cats. I helped with litter boxes and feeding (and for a while, medicine), but I didn’t have to take them to the vet.Report

  5. fillyjonk says:

    I’m glad you “lucked into” getting new dogs! Yes, people in ruralia need outdoor dogs, people in cities don’t always understand that. A friend of my family growing up had an old English sheepdog that used to “herd” the neighborhood children because she had no sheep.

    As for your second footnote: there are 2-3 pitbulls that make a regular walk through my neighborhood. Unattended. I am okay with dogs if they are either with an owner or are dogs belonging to an owner I trust. Rando dogs? No. And a neighbor down the street has a mean dog that gets out occasionally – said dog barked and ran at me one day when I was in my own yard, and when I called to her to get her dog, it was scaring me because I had bad dog-experiences as a child, she was rude and dismissive. But I think a dog that does a territorial behavior OUT OF ITS OWN TERRITORY is potentially a problem.Report

    • Dark Matter in reply to fillyjonk says:

      Agreed, and I’ve been there. It’s weird how people sometimes view pets as children. Also a lot of dogs view me negatively because I’m big.

      I had a medium-to-small dog confront me in the street as I was jogging past in front of the owner. I showed I was willing to get physical but it didn’t quite get close enough. I talked to the owner afterwards.

      I told him his real problem was with a random 8 year old going through the same thing. The owner insisted it wasn’t a problem unless someone “coaxed” the dog into going off it’s property. I told him I wasn’t upset, I personally wasn’t in danger because if a dog that size comes after me I’d just kill it.

      The idea that deadly force would be the first stick out the bag was a real shock to him. I didn’t have problems after that.

      If you have a serious problem with pits in your neighborhood then you may want to CC.

      I like dogs. I grew up with them and my kids have done the same. But I don’t let myself get bit and view that as a death penalty thing.Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to Dark Matter says:

        “If you have a serious problem with pits in your neighborhood then you may want to CC.”

        well that escalated quicklyReport

        • Dark Matter in reply to DensityDuck says:

          well that escalated quickly

          From the description it’s already escalated to potentially life threatening. It should be treated that way.Report

        • Chip Daniels in reply to DensityDuck says:

          If you have a serious problem with people in your neighborhood packing guns, you may want to get a vicious dog.Report

          • If you haven’t had to live in a neighborhood with enough roaming dogs to have you concerned about your children playing outside, you’re lucky. There are lots of people who aren’t so fortunate.Report

            • Dark Matter in reply to Kristin Devine says:

              My wife’s home town in Poland is weird about dogs.

              There are unowned dogs that roam through the town. A lot of them hang out in the Elementary school and feed off the children. I.e. they’re professional beggars and are polite/friendly/charismatic about it.

              When my kids visited their grandparents they “adopted” a young dog. The adoption process was to coax a roaming dog into the car with a sausage.

              Almost all of these guys are medium to small. I think the large ones were eaten during the war.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Dark Matter says:

        I used to be pretty scared of dogs. During that time, I was walking through a public park on the pathway carrying some bags of groceries. An unleashed dog started sprinting toward me, barking loudly. I’m not an expert on dog behavior but it seemed to be acting aggressively. I froze. The owner came running over yelling, “STOP MOVING! STOP MOVING! YOU’RE SCARING HIM!”

        Seriously, lady? *I’M* scaring *HIM*? No. Control your dog. Period. Even if I was scaring him, it’s her responsibility to control her damn dog, not mine to understand what might scare an unfamiliar dog and avoid doing that.

        I don’t know if the park/town had leash laws but it seems like basic responsibility says you keep your dog under control. The thing flying across the park barking loudly doesn’t seem as such.Report

        • Kristin Devine in reply to Kazzy says:

          There was a trend for a while there to have dogs off leash in parks. So that basically meant that parks were no-kid zones, because even with me present, there was no guarantee that I’d be able to stop an attacking dog. Even if the dog “just wanted to play” it was still terrifying.Report

      • Dark Matter in reply to Dark Matter says:

        I didn’t mention the dog was off leash and it was the owner’s yard… which it clearly thought extended way, way into the street.Report

      • It’s one of the reasons my husband did start CC. Just one too many close calls. One of the neighbor kids was bitten in the face, it was a nightmare. There are too many irresponsible people out there.Report

        • Dark Matter in reply to Kristin Devine says:

          My neighbor had a crazy dog. He knew it had serious problems. He didn’t let it roam so it wasn’t a problem for me but I thought he was asking for trouble.

          Dog bit his kid on her face. He took it out into the woods and shot it.

          The time to deal with problems is before they become serious problems. Dogs are animals that live with us, they’re not family members.Report

          • When I was 14, a neighbor’s doberman pinscher bit me while I was mowing the lawn in my parents’ back yard. I jumped over the short chain-link fence and bit my shoulder (missing, I guess, my neck by several inches). The neighbor was appropriately apologetic, and built an even bigger fence–a large wooden one–so it wouldn’t happen again.

            I had read (the previous year, in 8th grade English class) Frost’s poem on mending fences. I remembered how much I resented the implied irony of “good fences make good neighbors [but they really don’t: they build barriers]”*, and I resented it. I was grateful for that fence.

            *Maybe that’s a misinterpretation of the poem. All I can really say is that’s how I interpreted it and that’s how the teacher seemed to interpret it.Report

            • Dark Matter in reply to gabriel conroy says:

              so it wouldn’t happen again.

              Your neighbour BADLY dropped the ball, probably before this point but certainly afterwards.

              The much easier, safer, and adult way to handle the situation is to have the dog destroyed. If it’s going to be a potential threat to the neighbourhood kids then that’s a level of risk and danger I wouldn’t tolerate.

              If he’s willing to jump the fence and bite you then he’s willing to kill some young relative who he doesn’t know, he’s willing to accidentally get lose and do it again, and at worse he’s willing to kill my own kids if everything goes wrong at once.

              This is a disaster waiting to happen and the simple way to avoid it is to put him in his crate, take him down to the pound, and pay the $10 to have him put down.Report

              • You’re probably right about that. In the dog’s defense, she had recently had puppies and (said all of us, none of whom knew a thing about dog psychology), she was afraid for them.

                (It’s a weird thing. My mom took me to the doctor’s immediately. I got a tetanus shot, some antibiotic balm, and a band aid, and suffered no more. But even now, more than 30 years later, I feel a little frightened when I remember how close the dog came to my throat.)Report

    • Old English Sheepdog was one of the breeds we would have been happy to come by, but OMgosh so so expensive.

      Yes that’s what happens in my mom’s neighborhood too, she’ll look outside and all of a sudden there go a pack of pit bulls strolling down the street. Nothing has happened so far, but it’s nervewracking when she has the grandkids over.

      When we lived in town, our neighbors had this awful German Shepherd that would run on its chain at us again and again, every time I was gardening or the kids were playing outside. And then about 5% of the time it wasn’t on its chain, which was always a very unwelcome surprise.

      I absolutely 100% find that when a dog misbehaves the owner is not at all apologetic, and much of the timer rude/ hostile. As if we’re the ones with a problem we need to get over because we don’t want to be approached by a growling, barking dog. I had a couple bad experiences with dogs as a kid too, and even after working at the kennel I’m still not thrilled by strange dogs.Report

      • a colleague in another department walks in to work (well, when we’re not wfh) and he’s had to start carrying pepper spray after he got chased by dogs. I *think* shooting a dog if you were threatened would not get you fine/jailtime but perhaps pepper spray is a better option right in town? (He peppersprayed a dog once when it ran at him and it made the dog run the other way).

        I had bad dog experiences as a kid (someone in my neighborhood had a very territorial German shepherd that would bark and snarl from behind a chain link fence when you walked by on the sidewalk, and I was also chased by a dog some years after that and even though I had GOOD dog experiences – like with Tasha trying to herd me, that was just funny and she was a NICE dog – I am still nervous about them as an adult)Report

        • Those are kind of my experiences. I’ve had very good dog experiences….and I love dogs! But there’ve been a few (see above) that were bad. And I’m appropriately wary with older dogs.

          To Kristin’s point: A friend of mine put it this way, “I don’t mind dogs, just dog owners.”Report

          • Oh yes. In bad-dog interactions, I lay the blame on the owners for either not training the dog to behave well, or in some cases training the dog to be so territorial/protective that it’s a danger to the innocent.

            A lot of my friends have dogs that are wonderful dogs but the common denominator is that either they worked with the dog, or sent the dog to a good obedience school. My department chair has a lovely Golden Retriever she is training to be a therapy dog (the last time I got to see and hug the dog – 2 months ago now – she was 5 months old, so sort of a teenager dog. A little hyper still, and Diane was trying mightily to train her not to jump on people, but basically a good dog). My brother has a Shiba Inu who is a fantastic dog, even the vet says “sometimes these dogs are bitey but he isn’t!” and it’s because they worked so hard to train him to be a nice dog.Report

            • Dark Matter in reply to fillyjonk says:

              I am a big fan of the “friendly” dog, especially when I know it’s going to be around young children who I expect will screw up. “Friendly” doesn’t mean “good with my family when it knows what is expected”, friendly means “good with random people”.

              I was walking my dog when some random 3 year old ran across his front lawn and tackled the dog (because that’s what you do when you see a strange dog). The dog was selected for being calm and friendly so he handled it in a way that was calm and friendly. Licking him on the face was a fine reaction.

              That was a beagle mix. Now you also get barking and “death to rabbits” but whatever.

              On a side note most doggy issues are dominance issues where it thinks it’s in charge. The dominate dog gets to decide whether or not there is combat. The simple solution is to tell the dog to sit before giving him his food. If he won’t sit, then he thinks he’s dominate over the person holding the food. At that point that person needs to put the food back and he’s skipping that meal… and you repeat the process next time.

              This is a wonderful way for a child to gain dominance, and an adult to maintain it. I’ve yet to find a dog willing to skip more than one meal.Report

  6. Oscar Gordon says:

    A) I really do get annoyed with rescues that let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I can understand a rescue wanting to maybe run a background check to make sure you don’t have a history, but the requirements and inspections are BS. These people are just (IMHO) tin pot dictators.

    B) My previous pup, Lance, was a lab/pyr mix. Was only about 65 lbs, but had such soft fur, was very affectionate and gentle with people, and had the Pyr bark & growl (the bark so loud that it would shock you out of your socks, and a growl that you felt deep in your chest long before it registered in your ears). His only problem was he spent the first 11 months of life cooped up with a Chihuahua, as in, that was the sole extent of his dog-on-dog socialization. But we got him because our GSD needed a friend, and those two bonded instantly. He just wanted nothing to do with any other dog. We lost him almost 2 years ago to a ruptured spleen.

    PS We just got (a few months ago) a Smooth Collie (think Lassie, but with short fur). He’s 6 months old, black and tan, and loves everybody. We went through a breeder, but we did our research and visited the breeder before committing to anything.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      A big part, I think, is that they don’t see foster or rescue animals as temporarily living with them until a permanent home is found; they see them as their pets, and sending them to another home means Giving Away Their Pets.Report

    • Tin pot dictators! Exactly! Not all of them but just enough to make it a challenge.

      Aww Lance sounds like a sweet dog. That’s one of the issues with getting an older dog, you never know what happened before, but they can still be good dogs. When we got Emma, we showed up to pick her up (and the breeder had driven a LONG way to meet us halfway, so we felt like we had to go through with it no matter what) and they had a kid of about 17 with them. It didn’t mean anything to us at the time, but once we got her home she had obviously been roughhoused with extensively. She would attack our hands, our loose clothes, anything she could get her teeth on wanting to play a tug game. She meant it all in good fun but man it was tough to break her of the habit. Once she did, she was great, but it was a long couple months at first!Report

  7. Roger Turner says:

    Dog people spread the sickness! Dog people (who should own cats instead) meet dog person after dog person on the sidewalk and they talk and talk, with germs flying everywhere. Cat people stay indoors alone and drink wine. They don’t spread disease. Plus dogs are clueless nasty animals that want to eat my poo out of the litter box.Report

  8. Marchmaine says:

    I had one job.

    My wife made me promise that I would not under any circumstances let her get another dog after our Great Pyrenees died. I was careful to qualify if there was a secret code she could issue to rescind the order; absolutely not. We’re there any black swan events, like a flood, locusts, or as it turns out, pandemic? No. Would I be forever indemnified should I invoke the “no” and be held blameless? Of course.

    So the new puppy’s name is Bunter and he’s a shepherd/golden oopsie.Report

  9. tom collins says:

    Economist David Friedman (son of Milton) discusses volunteers at a cat rescue who were super picky about people adopting in his book Hidden Order.Report

  10. tom collins (really) says:

    Economist David Friedman (son of Milton) discusses volunteers at a cat rescue who were super picky about people adopting in his book Hidden Order.Report