Tag: The Culture Clash

A wonderful insight into dogs.

The republication of a wonderful post about a dog that rides a bus!

I’m in the middle of reading Jean Donaldson’s book The Culture Clash.  Here’s a summary of what the book is about from the Dogwise website.

Donaldson

Summary: The book that has shaped modern thinking about canine behavior and the relationship between dogs and humans has been revised. Dogs are not humans. Dogs are clever and complex creatures that humans need to take the time to understand in order to live together successfully. You must read this book… because your dog sure can’t!

Here’s an extract from page 13 of the first chapter: Getting the dog’s perspective.

We crave anecdotes about genius dogs and these abound. Everyone knows a story that illustrates how smart dogs are. But a fundamental question has never been answered by proponents of reasoning in dogs: if dogs are capable of these feats of brain power at all, why are they not performing them all the time? Why never in controlled conditions? What is the most upsetting about these claims is the lack of rigour in evaluating them.

You get the picture of where Jean Donaldson is coming from!  (And I’m still only just into the book myself.)

So with those words echoing around your mind, just hold your breath while you read this article from author Deborah Taylor-French‘s blog: Dog Leader Mysteries.

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Bus riding dog: Photo Friday

JANUARY 16, 2015 ~ DOGLEADERMYSTERIES

Can your dog do this?

Have you read about this dog? A friend shared a news clipping on this dog’s unusual behavior in Seattle, Washington. Eclipse, as an independent city dog, seems to know to walk only on the sidewalk, get on the bus, take a seat and look out the window, all without assistance from his person. Eclipse even knows, which bus stop to get off at for the dog park. “Bus riders report she hops onto seats next to strangers, and watches out the window for her stop. Says commuter Tiona Rainwater, “All the bus drivers know her … she makes everybody happy.”

A Metro Transit spokesman said the agency loves that a dog appreciates public transit. The City of Seattle representative suggested that it would be safer for Eclipse to wear a leash and be with her human when she rides the bus, but with a dog this smart, is it a problem? I don’t know the answer. Black lab rides bus alone to dog park USA Today Network Associated Press 1:01 p.m. EST January 14, 2015.

What do you think, can dogs take the bus without their human families?

No dogs off leash.
No dogs off leash.

We know that big dogs differ in temperament and dog to dog communication from little lap dogs. But what makes a dog mature and experienced enough to take on full independence in the confusion and untranslated rules of human life? Yes, free-roaming dogs ride trains in organized and peaceful groups in Russia. Yes, often those who live with dogs, like we do, find they understand far more of our human lives than we think possible. After watching dozens of dogs off leash on city streets of Baja California Sur, Mexico. No dog seemed homeless and all but one stayed on the sidewalk.

Do dogs ever become 100% street-smart?

Street smarts or leash required?
Street smarts or leash required?

What do dogs know? What do dogs remember? We know dogs learn. We know some dogs show exceptional learning abilities, much greater than other dogs. Somewhere I read that the average dog has the intelligence of a human toddler. Now, none of us would let a toddler walk city streets, get on and off a bus alone. But what of special cases? History shows exceptions to rules and to the “average.” Clearly, Eclipse breaks the rule, the average and reshapes our expectations of what dogs can and should be able to do.

The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Mahatma Gandhi

Have you read Merle’s Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog by Ted Kerasote? Of book talks, life and books by Kerasote can be found on his Website his 2014 Pukka’s Promise: The Quest for Longer-Lived Dogs, in paperback, looks to be interesting to those of us who want our dogs to live the longest, healthiest lives possible. Find more about this top creative nonfiction author on his Website Kerasote.com.

True dog story (tearjerker ahead)

A Marin County ethical keeshond breeder shared this true story of their longtime and favorite dog. For years and years, the behavior of their family dog and top champion male looked totally stable. His nature showed pure calm and obedience. They all got into a pattern of allowing this canine patriarch time to lay on the front lawn in their neighborhood circle street. He always remained serene, watching, never chasing, barking or moving.

On afternoon as the kinglike keeshond patriarch lay on his grassy lawn – the unthinkable happened – he ran in front of car. Now fortunately, this big keeshond did not die. But he suffered, ever after with epileptic fits. Makes me wonder if we fool ourselves in imagining that dogs can navigate city streets safely.

Please share, comment and sign up for my blog updates. Thanks, Deborah Taylor-French

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So leave it up to you to assess the brain power of dogs, especially that bus-riding black Labrador dog. To help you make your mind up, take a look at the video.

Published on Jan 14, 2015

Seattle’s public transit system has had a ruff go of things lately, and that has riders smiling.

You see, of the 120 million riders who used the system last year, one of them is actually a dog. Seattle’s KOMO-TV reports the 2-year-old black Labrador mix, named Eclipse, has become a regular fixture on the city’s D-Line after she figured out how to ride the bus alone to the dog park.

“All the bus drivers know her. She sits here just like a person does,” fellow rider Tiona Rainwater told KOMO. “She makes everybody happy. How could you not love this thing?”

The dog’s owner, Jeff Young, lives next to the stop. He said Eclipse sometimes hops on board without him if he’s not yet finished smoking his cigarette when the bus arrives. The pup has become a regular on the route, riding three or four stops before exiting at her destination of choice. “I catch up with her at the dog park,” Young explained.
Miles Montgomery, a Seattle radio host and D-Line commuter, was taken by surprise when Eclipse hopped into the seat next to him on a ride last Friday, looked out the window, then got off at her stop. Montgomery snapped a bemused selfie with the commuting canine, adding the caption, “Bus is full this morning:”

A Metro Transit spokesperson told the AP they’re happy a dog can appreciate public transit, though Eclipse should really be on a leash. King County says dogs are allowed to ride buses at the discretion of the driver, provided the animal isn’t a hazard and doesn’t create a disturbance.

Seattle isn’t alone in having a streetwise dog. Stray dogs in Moscow, Russia, have learned to commute in and out of the city from the suburbs by riding the subway, even watching out for other dogs to make sure they exit at the correct stop.

Get along, little doggies.

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Golly, I have just seen how long I have spent getting this post written.  Poor old Shelby must be wondering if I really did want to play with him; should have made my next move simply ages ago!

dog-playing-chess-graphic

Mind you, I so rarely win against him!

The book! Part Five: How humans view dogs.

The remaining chapters in Part Five are the essence of my story. That our dogs offer us a wonderful vision of how mankind needs to change, element by element, to stand a reasonable chance of surviving as a viable species into the distant future.

The writing of this book has been fuelled and motivated by an enormous amount of research, as has been mentioned previously. In general, what I have read has supported my overall hypothesis that I expressed in the opening paragraph above.

Then I read Jean Donaldson’s book The Culture Clash [1] almost when I had completed the first draft of this book. Whoops! This is what came at me in the first chapter [page 10] of her book:

One reason for our astonishingly poor understanding of dogs might be extremely slow trickle down from experts: trainers educating one owner or one class at a time rather that something on the scale of public service announcements or spots on Oprah.

But there’s a second reason for the slow acceptance of realistic interpretations of dog behavior: simple reluctance to let go of anthropomorphism.

Reinforced on the following page by these two sentences, “Our bond with dogs is obviously strong. But they are not human and so now we are stuck explaining the bond.

The book was a very interesting read and I can highly recommend it to anyone seeking a greater clarity about dogs, especially about dog training. As the back cover announces: “The most thought-provoking book ever written on dog behavior and training.”

The reason I reacted earlier with a ‘whoops’ was that the vision of what we need to learn from dogs, explored in detail in the following chapters, does, without question, leave me guilty of a “simple reluctance to let go of anthropomorphism.”

It doesn’t in any way, well to my mind it doesn’t, however reduce the central proposition of the book. That whether one sees dogs anthropomorphically or not, they represent wonderful and inspiring creatures, creatures that have proved their ability to live in harmony on the planet and that’s a track record that man can only dream of at present.

[1] Published by James & Kenneth, CA. USA. 2nd Ed. 2005

354 words. Copyright © 2014 Paul Handover