We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I don't know if you've ever heard of Mark Derr - most people haven't but he's written a couple of books about dogs and one about Davy Crockett - all of which are very good. He's of the opinion that most anthropologists and other social scientists are wrong about the dog/man team and how it formed. He has had this idea about it being a matter of co-evolution rather than co-dependency and has written a new book about it: How did the wolf evolve into man’s best friend?
One could argue that co-evolution/co-dependency is the same thing, but I think he makes some important distinctions in how the wolf became the dog.
I do take issue with the main thrust of most of the dog/man analysis in that I don't believe the wolf ever truly left the dog. Most dogs, if left to their own devices and survival, revert very quickly to a feral state very similar to the classic wolf pack. The difference between feral dog packs and the wolf pack is that the feral dogs have a rather loose organization with more than one top dog and those aren't always breeding pairs as they are in a wolf pack. In fact, the feral dog pack behaves much in the same way Derr describes when he was doing his research on the wolf researchers.
I love his commentary about The Dog Whisperer" - Cesar Millan. The guy is a good trainer no doubt, but he's got some rather outdated ideas about human/dog interactions.
In any case, I've read his other two dog books "A dog's history of America : how our best friend explored, conquered, and settled a continent" - 2004 and the first "Dog's best friend : annals of the dog-human relationship" - 1997. Highly recommended if you can find them - I think they are both out of print.
Anyway, the article is very good - enjoyed it. Hope you do.
Ah, Grasshopper, apparently you didn't discover one of the world's greatest secrets, The Secret of Amazon.com. All three books are available, with 'Relationship' going for a whopping $.73 and 'Explored' going for a wallet-busting $2.66. Fans of Davy Crockett will want to guard their wallets when they see 'Crockett' going for...
That's why it's a secret.
Netflix has a number of good dog-training DVDs. The one by John Fisher is particularly intriguing. Like Buck Brannaman in my horses post yesterday taking the stand that horses don't need to be 'broken', Fisher views dogs as the pack animals they are and concludes that about 90% of how we typically train them is wrong.
The article looks interesting, I've bookmarked it for later. And on Salon? Will wonders never cease.
I'm familiar with Fisher's work and have attended one of his seminars. He makes some good points, but again, dog training is a personal thing believe it or not. Some have the knack, others not so much, others not at all. I don't particularly like his (or Milan's) pack approach as I view man/dog as a partnership - not a parent/child or owner/ownee (is that a word? probably not.), alpha/beta dog relationship.
I became entranced by The Monks of New Skete and their approach to dog training - in particular one of their books "How To Be Your Dog's Best Friend - A training manual for owners". I spent two weeks at their New York monastery learning their techniques which suit me just fine. They have a somewhat mystical approach to the whole thing, but they share my view that it is a partnership. And here's the weird bit - I got totally into the mystical part of it - I think it made me a much better trainer than I was.
I have dog training books out the wazoo and dog history books out the wazoo and man/dog/wolf anthropological books out the wazoo...I'm sure you get the idea.
Thanks for the Amazon thing - I never even thought of checking to be honest. But I have the books anyway so its not really for me. I would suggest getting them from a library system - paying a penny and $3.95 shipping and handling seems a little weird. :>)
Sam - Yes, and a mighty splendid one it is. He said at the time, "Why buy the cheap stuff when you can spend a bit more and get a top of the line product!" I tracked it down and it appears this is the one he bought. And a mighty fine piece it is!
It was my fault. I hadn't cleaned my reading glasses in a few months and mistook Sam calling you a "yahoo" for "kazoo". At first I thought he meant you were from Kalamazoo and was deriding you for being a lowly Michigander, then I realized that he was responding to your quintessentially liberal response of "I treat my dog like an equal partner in life" comment. Hey, if you want to defy 200,000 years of evolution by pretending you both can be the alpha male, go for it. The dog, for one, will certainly be happy. :)
(Actually, he won't. Pack animals are only 'happy' when they know their place in the pack, and when you imply he's the alpha male when you respectfully allow him to go out the door first (as one would with any 'life partner'), then demand he sit or lie down or stay upon command -- which alpha males don't do when commanded by their lessers -- he's going to be confused. Ergo, 'unhappy'.)
I got down to the point in the article where he called dogs "sentient" and promptly clicked the 'close' button on the browser.
You're right about there being different types of dog people. There are those who believe dogs are sentient, understand what you're saying and should be viewed as 'equal partners in life'.
Then there are those who view them as mere animals.
You're right on all counts. But I was thinking of the whole rather than the parts. An owner must be "alpha" if you will, but that's actually a negative term - I prefer "leader" if only because a good partnership always has a leader. I've been in a few professional partnerships and it was a successful model. Sometimes I led, sometimes others led - just the way it worked out.
With respect to sentient, yes, dogs are sentient. Of that I have no doubt at all.
In my heart I will always have a measure of pity for those cultures which disdain the dog (Islam being chief among these, but there are others as well), for they are passing on one of the great things in this life. There is absolutely nothing like a good dog. Part-Lab mutts are the best. (On the other hand, chihuahuas are not good dogs. They are loud-mouthed runts.)
One of the greatest regrets of my life is that there comes a time when a swift and painless death is the greatest kindness I can grant to my dog.