JD Allinder

Archive for August, 2010|Monthly archive page

Lady Jane

In Posts on August 22, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Jane’s had less energy this summer than last. It’s difficult for me to figure out the cause of it. Is it because she’s a year older and settling into more even-tempered adulthood, or is it because it’s the hottest most miserable summer since the Mesozoic? She’s certainly sleeping a lot more than this time a year ago, and she shows disinterest and fatigue on the trail more than before. Again, it’s difficult for me to judge her energy level on the trail, because she’s always been partial to boredom. She hates any backtracking during an off-leash hike and would rather stay in bed than repeat the same outing two days in a row. If she’s sluggish on a walk, I don’t know if it’s a legitimate reaction to the heat or just lazy hound dog behavior. She thrives on novelty, so when her enthusiasm wanes, I always try to engage her in a chase/run or some other activity to pique her interest. At any rate, she’s a sweet baby, and she’s come through this challenging summer like a trooper.

Jane was bred before I adopted her. She was also neglected and possibly physically abused (in addition to the physical abuses involved in breeding). When she first came to live with me, she was a gangly, skin-and-bones puppy. Since then, she’s been cleaned up inside and out and fattened up, too. I feed her well – a variety of meats, fruits, and vegetables, mostly raw – and she gets tons of exercise. She really is a mature dog now. She’s content. She listens to me. Sometimes I catch her staring at me with worshipping eyes, and that makes me feel good (and a little embarrassed). She’s just physically matured faster than I anticipated. She seems to have gone from a puppy to a middle-aged adult in the blink of an eye. The other day we walked past a woman who whispered to her child, “Look at the old dog.” I wanted to say, “Actually, she’s still quite young. She’s just tired from the eight mile walk we just finished,” but I bit my tongue. Yesterday, a guy on the street said to me, “So, is she about eight?” (She’s three and a half.) Eight?! I was stunned, and also bristled a bit. I told the man her age and suggested that she looks mature because she was bred before being rescued. A woman he was with said, “Oh, that’s it; she’s matronly.” Matronly.

When I think of Jane pregnant, which I try not to do too often, it breaks my heart. She was such a frightened puppy when I met her, I honestly cannot imagine how traumatic that experience was for her. Human breeding of dogs is insanely abusive and antithetical to nature’s intentions. In the wild, canines engage in elaborate courtship rituals. It’s common for a female to have multiple suitors. The males engage in typical demonstrations of prowess, but it is the females who choose. The pair remain together after coupling, the male cares for the female during gestation, and often the two will live and hunt together for years raising multiple litters along the way. When humans insert themselves into the procedure, the bitch is tied to a post or wall. Often her head is immobilized so she cannot use her teeth to fend off the uninvited mate. With no courtship and no choice, the act is taken out of context for both bitch and dog. Neither is allowed to function as intended by the laws of nature. It is physical and psychological abuse.

The first several times I took Jane to the dog park after adopting her, she let any interested male mount her. When this happened, which was often, Jane did nothing about it. Her expression was completely vacant. I think she was conditioned to believe she had no say in the matter. Each time a male mounted her, I calmly (though firmly) removed him with a single, quick check to the neck. I followed it up with a loud “No!” and a toothy growl. Jane noticed. She watched what I was doing. Each time this happened, I told her she didn’t have to put up with that anymore. Eventually, she began parroting my behavior. Now she lets out a howl and bares her teeth when the boys get fresh — the way she should, the way she’s meant to. Much of what I do with Jane is try to correct the damage caused by her first year or so of human interference. I try to be forgiving and understanding of people who use other animals to satisfy their wants, but it’s so difficult when you live with the result of their ignorance.

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” –Mahatma Gandhi