Monday, March 26, 2007

Those dogs again.

Last week was an accidental meeting with one of the persons who works for the Animal Shelter next to Santek Trailers in Riverside, California, USA.
This person was walking a beautiful German shepherd.
When it was explained to him that friends have a German shepherd able to understand instructions in two different languages, English and French, he was not surprised at all.
He knew about that and he knew why.

Until then it was believed that the reason a well-trained dog was made able to understand instructions in two languages, was to be able to export the dog to French speaking countries.

The friends having the bi-lingual German shepherd, fluent in English and French but not in German, knew that their dog had this ability but themselves, only speaking English with a Minnesota accent, they had never been able to check whether their expensive dog was actually able to follow up commands in French.

Being their friend, and fluent in French, especially in conversation with dogs, it was “un morceau de gateau” (piece of cake) to test the dog.
“Viens içi” (come here) and the dog immediately came.
“Couche toi” (lay down) and the dog was laying down, but instantly.
The friends very happy that it was true that their dog was international.

But now the person working for the Animal Shelter next to Santek Trailers hearing this amazing story, explained why dogs in the United States are taught to follow up commands in French.
It is not to be able to export the dog.
And it is also not to be fancy and posh at all.
And to show off in the USA.
“Viens içi”, the dog comes and the American neighbours are intimidated to think the owner speaks French and that the German shepherd comes from France.

The true reason is that in certain situations an aggressor might also yell commands at the dog.
The aggressor attacks the owner of the dog, the dog loyally wants to defend his master and the attacker screams at the dog: “Lay down”.
The dog, not knowing better, lays down immediately and his owner goes to heaven.
The dog finds in the attacker a new best friend.
That of course is not the way it all should be.

In the situation that an aggressor attacks the owner of the dog, the owner can overrule the instructions given by the attacker by commanding the dog in the French language.

This sounds complicated and therefore more details will be presented here as an extra service to the loyal and fervent blogreaders about how in reality it actually works.

A woman with a bilingual dog walks in a street.
An aggressor approaches her and makes threatening mugging moves.
The woman instructs the dog: “Get him !”
The aggressor understands of course this instruction and is so smart to yell at the dog: “Lay down”.
The dog obediently lays down.
Now the aggressor has his hands free to molest the woman, as he likes.
But the woman screams at her smart dog: “Attrappe lui”.
This instantly puzzles the aggressor.
What does that mean: “Attrappe lui ?”
Who is not puzzled is the dog.
He knows, based on his knowledge of the French language, that “Attrappe lui” is to attack the aggressor without hesitation
Before the aggressor knows he has the German shepherd all over him and that is not a pleasant experience at all.

A bilingual dog is so effective because it is very unlikely in the United States that an aggressor speaks or understands French.

This is all very well but it implies that the owner of the dog needs to learn at least some basic French.
And making holidays in France, he better doesn’t take his dog along.

But how can the dog know which command is the most relevant?
If one person says: “Lay down” and the other one says “Défend moi” (protect me), how is the dog going to choose?

The world is a complicated thing but an issue like this presented in today’s posting really rattles the brains.
And also the following issue makes us grasp for air.

The person working for the Animal Shelter next to Santek Trailers was walking the German shepherd equipped with a plastic bag.
For a European this is an amazing phenomenon.
Owners of dogs in the USA clean up after their loyal companions.
In Europe not.
It is very common in a city like Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, to find remains of toilet activities from dogs right on the pavement.
It is advised always in Amsterdam to watch your step.
To clean up after your dog is a level of civilization not reached yet in most countries in Europe and certainly not in Amsterdam.
There is a law telling the dog lovers from Amsterdam to clean up after their animals, but they simply don’t do it.
And the police can’t care less.

In Canada owners of dogs also clean up after their barking four-feeters.
A few years ago, documenting the life of a Canadian family near Toronto who were having an enormous black poodle, as a demonstration of solidarity it was offered to take Springer for a walk.
The large dog had been inside all day and was disturbing the making of good pictures so it was believed that some exercise would calm him down.
To great surprise not only a leash was given, but also a large plastic bag.
It was then realized, too late, too late, that in the case Springer had to depose his pooh, the innocent photographer was supposed to clean that up.
This would be a first time life experience and one not exactly looking forward to.
But it was too late to retract the generous offer to walk the family dog and off Springer went wildly testing the strength of the leash.

Meanwhile prayers were sent to Who Is In Charge of us:
“Oh my God in heaven. You probably know I am a Buddhist but can you for only once have mercy on this soul? Please let the dog not pooh during this walk! I will consider becoming Catholic again when you avoid me having to scoop up Springer’s pooh. Amen”
Shortly after these sincere prayers Springer squatted and manufactured the largest heap of pooh ever seen in Canada.
Exactly on the lawn of a fancy house.
The generous offer to become a Catholic again was due to Springer’s nasty behaviour off the table right away.
This by itself was already rather dramatic and shocking, one sheep less returning to his Shepherd, but the next thing to happen was even worse.
To have to put a hand in a plastic bag and scoop excrements of a large poodle.
It is disgusting.
It makes a healthy man almost vomit.
Because it still has the colour of dog food: reddish and greenish.
And because it smells.
More precisely, it stinks.
And in your hand, in spite of the plastic bag, you feel it is warm.
Which is the worst.

All those dog owners in Northern America cleaning up after their dogs, they are heroes and outstanding citizens and an example for the rest of the world, especially for those in Amsterdam.

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