Sunday, January 31, 2010


Along with all the other evangelic crusades of the new century - anti-alcohol, anti-drugs, anti-obesity, anti-hooliganism, anti-prostitution (mostly mirroring those of early last century) comes the anti-dog campaign.

It is understandable that people with children are cautious about dogs but having both children and dogs gives perhaps a more balanced perspective.

The NZ Herald editorial today has made the re-ignited issue about Rodney Hide and his attempts to bring some deeper thinking to the debate over freedom and restriction. It quotes Hide;

"I am not sure that people with an irrational fear, however real, of dogs have a right to require the physical restraint of all dogs in public places," he said when announcing the review last October.

Setting aside the question of how a fear can be irrational and real at the same time, it is worth pointing out the size of the margin by which Hide misses the point.

There is no "question" about a fear being both real and irrational. Plenty of people harbour fears that are irrational. Extreme cases are called phobia. But that sentence captures the fault-finding mood of the writer.

All dogs should be leashed all of the time. That seems to be the position taken.

All dogs pose a problem or a potential problem. Perhaps a potential problem is a problem of itself. Ergo all dogs are a problem.

In reality, some dog owners and some dogs are the problem. The attitude taken by the Herald would be bizarre and repulsive if it was applied to people. Some people are criminals, or potential criminals but it doesn't follow that everybody's freedom should be restricted - although that is the path we are going down with the likes of surveillance cameras. Pursuing this line of thought the Herald would have us all in monitoring anklets.

A new term should be coined. Dogism. Like feminism and racism it describes an attitude that treats all individuals as one based on some attribute beyond the control of the bearer.

Dogism is growing thanks, in part, to the media. It is itself irrational. It forgets that domesticated dogs have shared our society forever. That they fulfil many functions no other animal or person can; leading the blind; assisting the disabled; tracking offenders; protecting property; herding farmstock; hunting or retrieving; supporting racing and showing industries; visiting terminally ill people or dysfunctional children; saving lives. But above all they are companions and for some, provide a purpose for living.

So I am not about to become an apologist for dogs. And it makes a change to see a politician bring some broader thinking to the issue of dangerous dogs beyond the reactionary and emotional dogist response.


Anonymous said...

Oh yee of short memories. How long has it been since the same editor was supporting the smacking bill and the ETS?

Clearly not a person of clear understanding of principles.

Anonymous said...

Bruce Emery served 11 months.

Key wants Russell Mendoza to get 5 years.

pdm said...

Are you two anons one and the same?
Get psuedonyms.

What frustrates me is that the anti dog people is their refusal to recognise that 99% of dogs that approach you are more likely to lick you than bite you. Yet as always everyone kowtows to the 1%.

Anonymous said...

Dogs need to be under the control of their owners at all times. It is unacceptable for a person to run up to me and lick or bite me. It is similarly unacceptable forma dog to do either. If I walk or run past your fog - leashed or not - it should ignore me. If it does not I should have the responsibility to respond with deadly force.

You have a right to have a dog just as longs as it does not interfere with me or my property. As soon as it does I will respond. Tag my garage - or piss on it - no difference. Emery and Mendoza both did the right thing

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that I grew up with a dog and so did my son, it has saved us from dogism. I agree with the last writer about training of dogs. The basic problem with dogs is the irresponsibility of their owners in not training them properly if at all.
The fact that the editor supported smacking means that there is hope for him yet. jcuknz

Anonymous said...

He didn't support smacking ...hopeless case!

Anonymous said...

I know plenty of people who need to be chained up.

People should have to get a license to breed in my opinion.

Ate dog once at a function on an indian reservation in New Mexico.

Call me parochial if you must but I prefer mutton.

Anonymous said...

The gin has kicked in.

DIRK for the above

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Who else?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous(but not any of the otherss here).

I was having dinner with Nathaniel and Leigh Branden in Los Angeles a few months ago at that their apartment. There apartment is sort of in the center of a large courtyard with other apartments around it.

Leigh was in the courtyard chatting to some women while Nathaniel and I sat at the table talking. I was looking out the window and noticed several dogs all running around dragging leashes. It was rather bizarre since the leash served no purpose. The dogs were having a good time but dragging these leashes the whole time.

I thought how stupid that was. When Leigh came back in I said: "Oh, they have a 'leash law' here, don't they?" She knew I had figured it out and confirmed it: "Yes, the law says the dog must be on a leash at all times. But it doesn't say anyone actually has to be holding the leash at the time."

luggage79 said...

"99% of dogs that approach you are more likely to lick you than bite you."

Ehm - I don't want to be licked and slobbered on either. And for all of those who compare dogs to humans: you would not really want a human to run up to you, sniff you out or shit on your lawn, would you?