Saturday, October 3, 2015

Make Your Dog Happy

In Observance of World Animal Day, October 4, feast day of  St Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and the environment.
Dr Abe V Rotor

Living with Nature - School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School-on-Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB AM, 8-9 evening class Monday to Friday
      “Make these dogs happy,” I told a group of schoolchildren who were taking art lessons from me. I gave each of them a copy of a trace drawing of a pair of dogs. The dogs looked sad, docile and there is something pathetic about them.

      With pastel coloring instrument they accepted the assignment.  In their young minds I saw their pets at home.  As I studied the expressions on their faces, matched with their actions I noticed they were not only coloring their pets, they were virtually “caring for their pets.”

Jamby, a Japanese Spitz, roams freely at home. 

      And what do you think they did with these animals?  How kind are these children to them?   How good are they as masters or friends – as pets? These are the things I gathered from their drawings.

1.   Unchain the dogs – A young participant made a drawing of a chain being sawed off in order to free the dogs. Truly there is nothing more important than freedom, even for an animal. This is also true with animals. Aren't zoos today moved to bigger spaces where the habitats of the animals are simulated?  In the African Safari tourists are taken out, caged in their vehicles, while the animals roam free.

2.  Build a doghouse – Keep them from heat and cold.  Give them a sense of security and comfort.  Give the doghouse some art and a bit of aesthetic sense. The house is a status symbol but its functional features are foremost.
3.  Provide a shade – A tree beside the doghouse is a magnificent scene: 
a bird’s nest atop, bridling and parent singing at feeding time, ripe fruits hang, a kite is stuck up on a branch, a boy climbs to retrieve it, leaves fall and form a litter on which the dogs lay.  These and many more, which the children drew, revive the childhood to every viewer of their art works.

4.  Give them bone – If there is anything a dog is associated with, it is a big bone.  Aesop saw it fitting for a fable, a lesson about greed.  For the dog however, it is a form of security, as well as a plaything. Be sure you give your pet food, fresh water and proper nutrition. Do not overfeed them.

5.  Play with them, give a plaything – I found out that many of my pupils drew themselves beside or playing with their pets.  Others drew cats and mice playing with their dogs.  Playing is universal among animals, tame or in the wild.  Others raced with them on the meadow.

6.  Groom them – Regularly bathe and comb them. Several drawings showed the dogs in attire, one in a circus outfit, another in casual wear, one eating on Chinaware. This is not rare because we often think of animal as human beings.  Read “Animal Farm” by George Orwell.  Or see the movie, “Babe.”  Aesop’s fables are about animals that think like human beings – or it could be the other way around, as Aesop wanted to drive a point, quite often a painful lesson.  Aesop was silenced because he was unwittingly hurting people with his fable.  

7.  Teach them tricks and discipline – A ball, a stick, an electronic gadget to open or close the doghouse, are among the things the young participants included in their drawings. There’s a saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”  But children always see their pets young. This means they are growing up together, and sharing new tricks.

8.  Vaccinate your dog – A participant drew a veterinarian administering     an anti-rabies shot on his young pet.  Precaution is always important, because catching rabies is dangerous.

      Who are these children mirrored by their drawings?  And who will they be through the keyhole of their imagination? How we regard our pets is what we are and become. 

Last days of Nikko, a Dobberman, 
our guard for 15 years.

      “A starving dog at his master’s gate predicts the ruin of the state,” thus William Blake in “Auguries of Innocence” tells us.  I, for one, would gladly meet with confidence and ease the master of a contented and happy dog. 

History of the Dog

      Forty million years ago there were small, long tailed tree-climbing creatures called “Miacids”, according to David Lambert. These fierce animals prowled the forest; what we now know as North America.  From the Miacids came three groups of descendants: Amphicyon (wolf-sized bears), Borophygus (hyaena-like creatures), and
Tomarctus, (the long-legged dogs).  It is the last group which led to all the living breeds of domesticated dogs and to their wild relatives, foxes and wolves.  

      No one can exactly know how dogs evolved but fossils show that dogs were helping human hunters as far back as 10,000 years ago. This means that the dog has been a friend to man from the time of the Middle Stone Age.

      Not many people know how extensive is the dog, a man’s best friend.  Perhaps the reason is that as people move to live in the cities, the original man-dog relationship evolved into mere friendship. 

      But through the years, dogs have remained helpful and loyal to man in the following ways:

1.  Helpful Dogs  - Certain dogs are so intelligent and trustworthy they can be trained to guide blind people around obstacles and through the city streets.  The German Shepherd, also known as Police Dog has a trained nose to detect explosives and drugs.  The Russian terrier Laika, was the first animal in space.

2.  Working Dogs – Shepherd dogs guard and round up flocks and herds. These are the Collie, German Shepherd, Sheepdog, Maremma, Kelpie, Puli and Corgi.

3.  Traveling Dogs – The best known of these dogs is the St. Bernard.  There is a stuffed St. Bernard dog at the UST Museum of Arts and Sciences, a keg tied around its neck.  As long ago as the 17th century the monks of St. Bernard de Menthon kept and bred dogs to guide and rescue travelers from the snowdrift of the Swiss Alps. These dogs were the ancestors of the St. Bernard we know today. Other mountain dogs are the Bernese, Pyrenean and the Newfoundland.  They pull heavy snow sleds over great distances, herd reindeers, or just be plain good guards and guides.

4.  Guard Dogs – Guard dogs must be loyal, obedient, courageous and strong.  Take the case of the Doberman.  In the late 19th century a tax collector, Louis Dobermann, used local dogs to breed an animal that would guard the money he carried.  The result was the Doberman Pinscher, a fine dog that is proud, fast and fearless.  Two German dogs, the Rottweiler and the Boxer, and the Tibetan Mastiff are equally fearsome watchdogs.   

5.  War Dogs – Being carnivores dogs have the instinct for hunting and killing, which means that they can be trained to fight.  Even in ancient times dogs were trained to attack enemies. Ten thousands dogs served with the Allied Forces in World War II. War dogs include Bull Terriers, Bulldogs, and the Molossus, a dog trained by the Greeks to attack the Persians.

6.  Game Dogs – Sporting dogs are the Springer, Spaniel, Setter, Retriever, and Hound. Each breed has a special way of hunting. Spaniels flush out game from grass and shrubs, while the Pointer, upon finding a game bird, stands still with its head, body and tail pointed like an arrow towards the quarry. Man first made friends with the dog through hunting. Both enjoy the prize of the game.

7.  Detective Dogs – Dogs have very sensitive noses.  The scent hound can track its prey by its scent for hours and over a long distance.  The Bloodhound is the oldest of all scent sensitive hounds. Other detective dogs are the Foxhound, Basset Hound and Dachshund.

The Danger of Rabies

      The great biologist, Loius Pasteur, succeeded in saving a boy bitten by a rabid dog. From here the world found relief in combating the disease through immunization.  Today, anti-rabies vaccines are available in big drugstores.

      But rabies is still one of the most dangerous killers and there is no cure to it.  That is why immunization is necessary.  Have your dogs vaccinated with anti-rabies.  When a dog that has not been vaccinated bites, the best way is to have the victim treated immediately with anti-rabies serum.

      Dog meat eaters beware.  The hidden killer lies in the dog meat.  The rabies virus is not readily killed by heat.  Besides it is a common practice to eat dog meat medium rare (kilawin) with the brain of the animal mixed in with the rest of the ingredients.  Many do not know that the virus attacks the brain, therein it multiplies.

Dog Attack

      In the US alone there are thousands of reported attacks by dogs, some leading to death.  When my family had just transferred to the subdivision we are living in now, our dogs chased and bit a boy in the neighborhood. It was only a bruise but it was not an auspicious start for us as new residents.

      Here are tips for avoiding dog attacks. When there is a menacing dog around do not run.  Stay calm and walk away slowly.  A stick or anything to fend off the dog can help.  Avoid walking through a pack of dogs.  Know where the doghouse in the neighborhood is and try not to get near it.  Don’t just saunter through someone’s gate.  Call first or use the doorbell.

      But, of course, the best way is to act like a boy scout by always staying alert, not only for dogs but any form of danger.

The Pet Dog Today

       When you hear the word, askal, it means mongrel, although in common parlance is “street” or kalye dog. Mongrels are dogs whose parents are of mixed breeds.  Although coming from a mélange of breeds, they sometimes tend to exhibit a dominant bloodline. Mongrels may intentionally be crossbred to pure breeds to improve the breed, with satisfactory results. Two good things about mongrels are that they are resistant to local diseases, and are less choosy with their food. 

       It is also the mongrel that ordinary people raise as pets and source of food at the same time. When grown and fattened they are slaughtered. Dogs are sold for meat in many countries, but Americans and Europeans, who keep dogs like members of the family, strongly detest this practice.  In the early nineties Congress received thousands letters protesting the killing and eating of dogs. Among the appealing institutions is the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). Now and then we read news story about jeeploads of dogs intercepted on the way to the slaughterhouse. If we have any knowledge on this illegal act it is best to call the nearest police station.

Impact of the Art Workshop

      The art workshop for children in which I used the dog as an exercise to demonstrate love for animals may be a simple way of changing attitudes and developing values. Children are known to be very effective in carrying out the multiplier effect of a lesson and we hope that they will carry this as they grow.

      “Make these dogs happy,” could mean a thousand dogs in the future, and a thousand enlightened children who follow the footsteps of those who unchained the dog, built a doghouse, gave a bone and, altogether, made the world a kinder one for dogs.
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