Thursday, June 18, 2009

Animals are NOT your children

I went to our local HomeDepot yesterday to get some non-toxic pest repellent. Two annoying raccoons have started rolling up our new sod looking for food. Since I was up at 6am rolling out that sod and forked out >$200 for it, I'm a tad protective of it. While I was roaming the aisles, I had to save monkey from a dog. A HomeDepot employee then informed the owner that the dog had to be on a leash.

I am may be on the fringe here, but why the fuck are you bringing your dog to HomeDepot?? While fuming about stupid urbanites and their infantization of dogs, I started thinking about Dr.J's stand on the use of cats and dogs in research. I started thinking about DogTown. And then I got angry.

I'm pissed at both Dr. J and the rest of the urbanites (its mostly urbanites that hold this opinion on pets) that cats and dogs are some how equivalent to children or humans. They are NOT. I love dogs. Between Mr.SM and I, we have owned 3 dogs. We loved them. I still expect to see my rotti X every time I go to my parents. I treat my dogs well. I wash, brush, feed and walk them. I do not dress them up. I do not take them out with me everywhere I go. I keep them outside - where they belong.

Unlike many claim, dogs and cats were not domesticated to be our companions. They were domesticated because they had jobs to do. Cats caught the mice and rats, dogs assisted in huge variety of farming / hunting chores. Why do you thinks they have herding, retrieving, pointing tendencies? Why do think they are classified as water dogs or sled dogs?

This is not to say that animals should not be respected or cared for, but we really have to remember they are animals. They do not have emotions the way we do. As nicely stated in Life of Pi, we have disneyified our animals. We have given them human emotions that they just do not possess.

Dr. J stated of cats: They have a superior intellect, they reason, they feel, they love, they care

Sure they have superior intellect, but they do not reason or love or care. If they reasoned, loved and cared the ferrel cats my colleague rescured 10 years ago would not be ferrel still. It is so aggravating for me, when I see people treating animals better than they do humans. Or when when someon claims that the animal is equilivalent to children. HELL NO! Again, I'm not saying to be callous, cruel or inhumane. Can we remember that they are animals?

Dr.J compared a cat to a baby, which always pisses me off. Cats and dogs are not dependent on us like a baby. You can't just come home late and take the baby out later like you can with a dog. If you get drunk the night before, you can't just sleep in and take the baby out later. Their are HUGE difference between having a cat or a dog and having a baby.


Mrs. CH said...

Fair enough - it's odd to me that pets are being allowed in more and more places (specifically dogs, because honestly people don't take their cats places in general). I can kind of understand pet stores (like Petsmart) allowing it, but Home Depot? WTF?

I do call my cats my "fur babies", but they are most definitely NOT at all like a baby! I love them to death, and they're cute as hell, but (as you said) I can feed them later if necessary, and they'll be okay if I forget to change the litter box one day. It's not the same.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Definitely not the same.

I have a friend who brings his dog into people's houses without asking if it's OK - last time he did this at our place our cats freaked out and the dog almost got blinded, so at least he knows not to do that again. I love that dog, but I don't want her in my house!

Mind you I'd also expect a friend with a kid to let me know in advance that the kid's coming to my home, but that's mostly so I can make things a bit more child-friendly. And also hide the lap-top.

ScienceMama said...

So.. I have literally actually taken my dog with me to Home Depot. And before you hate me forever, let me explain why. My sweet little beagle spends most of her day in my condo. So any time I can take her out with me, I do.

She is the sweetest dog, great with kids, wouldn't hurt a fly. And that's why I feel comfortable taking her places. I don't take her places with food (i.e. the grocery store, a coffee shop, a restaurant). I don't take her to clothing stores. But Petco, Home Depot, a plant nursery... yeah, I take her in with me instead of tying her up outside (which she hates).

But, that being said, my dog is not every dog. If I had a big dog or a dog where there was a remote possibility of biting or otherwise accosting someone, I wouldn't take her with me. I can only do this because I know that she's gentle as a lamb. Even with my gentle dog, I keep her on a short leash so that she's not bothering other people.

But the rest of it? I'm with you. Animals are not babies. The comments over at Isis' blog really got me mad.

Ambivalent Academic said...

I didn't know that you could take your dog to HomeDepot. And I might now for the same reasons as ScienceMama. But ALWAYS on a short leash. Even if he is an angel, that doesn't mean other people want him walking up to politely say hello. I don't like it when perfect strangers walk up to me (even with a polite hello) most of the time, so I understand why people don't want random dogs walking up uninvited. Dogs don't really get this, so mine stays on a leash.

I love him to death, but he is NOT a child.

EthidiumBromide said...

I could not possibly agree more. I grew up with house cats, and they were wonderful, and I'd like to again own a cat, but they never, ever went anywhere with us. They remained in the house, went to the vet, or went to "kitty camp" when we were on vacation to be watched by a family friend. We never brought them to houses of others, took them on public transportation, flew with them so they could come on vacation with us, etc.

There is nothing wrong with loving a pet, but the line has to be drawn somewhere. My husband's grandmother used to have a toy poodle that she took with her EVERYWHERE. While little, the dog was obnoxious, and peed on me multiple times. One year at Thanksgiving (NOT at her house), she let the dog sit on her lap and eat off her plate, in front of 20 people seating around a formal table. I just got up and left and refused to return until she was done with dinner because I just couldn't handle watching it -- it disgusted me to the point of nausea.

Frankly, it's amazing that I'm not terrified of dogs (though, I will admit that I do not particularly care for them) -- when I was little, we were in the pet store buying pet food, and a german shepherd plowed through me and knocked me over... I had to get stitches on my forehead. The dog was even on a leash, but he(she?) saw something of interest and bolted, and had just enough room on the leash to plow reach me in the checkout line.

microbiologist xx said...

AA - Now that I know how your dog says hello, I'm gonna vote for the short leash in HD. :)

I pretty much agree. I have pets and I am 100% crazy about them, but I don't think they are people and I don't think they possess all the emotions that we project onto them.
At the same time, I find it equally annoying when people get upset when animals behave like animals. Like when an animal escapes form the zoo, and kills bystanders or when wild animals attack their trainers or when my cat scratches your kid after it yanks the shit out of her tail, etc. Animals react to situations. They don't think: "I hate living at the zoo, but I love all these humans that visit me. If I ever escape, I'll try real hard not to injure any of them." or "Oh, this toddler doesn't know wtf it's doing, I'll just endure the pain of being sat on while my tail is being pulled and wait for the kid's parent to intervene."

microbiologist xx said...

I didn't mean your kid. :) I meant a kid.

ScientistMother said...

Mrs.CH - oh I totally used to call my dog my little baby as well, but it drives me bananas when I am frustrated with my monkey and a friend will say "Oh I know what you mean my cat/dog/gerbel" URGHHH.

Cath - My brothers ex-GF did that and totally PO'd me. I'm supposed to let her little dog come in my house when MY dog isn't?? I always ask if I can bring my child or if the house is child friendly AND then I make sure that my child does not damage a friend house otherwise we leave. He can not jump on their couches or bang on their computers..even if they say its OK.

ScienceMama / AA - I do get it, but its the attitude that some owners have which is since they know their dog is harmless everyone else should to. Well my little boy doesn't and he gets scared when the little dog that is not on a leash come running for him. And SOmany little dog owners don't keep them on leashes...thats a whole other post on its own. People are hating on Dr.Isis? Seriously? Last time I checked that post it was all about how Dr.J was being unreasonable.

EtBr - perfect example. Toy poodles annoy me to death.

MicroXX - oh yeah that is the other part of the equation. The parents of toddlers who do NOT respect the animal. Like seriously your child needs to learn NOT to pull the dogs tail otherwise the dog will bite him - shocking.

ScientistMother said...

MicroXX - oh yeah don't worry I didn't think you did. I guess because I know I would not let my kid do that. Again what is with some people!

ScienceGirl said...

I used to have an office mate who would bring her smelly dog to the office; while the 3rd office mate didn't dare complain, I had to have a little chat with her every couple of months (she just didn't get how someone would not want her wheezy dog nearby as they are trying to work!).

Anonymous said...

Sciencemother - you and the majority may prefer your brats to cats or other pets, but a significant minority don't.

Cooing over smelly horrible babies irks me as much as your lack of empathy to people who prefer pets.

Human exceptionalism is irrational.

We are ALL animals.

You are no doubt a fundie god bot - that explains a lot.

I'm glad Siencemama you were infuriated by some of the comments at Isis's.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

You are no doubt a fundie god bot

WTF??!! That makes no sense.

Moving on...

The comments at Isis' place pissed me off too, for familiar reasons. I've actually unsubscribed from that blog a few times, mostly due to the comment threads. There's a unique and weird vibe over there and the faux goddess-worship schtick creeps me out. I then resubscribe, because she's a good writer, covering interesting topics, and occasionally very, very funny. Plus half the blogosphere links there, so it's easier just to read it myself. But I tend to stay in Google Reader and don't click through to many of the posts any more.

But what I really hate is when there's a post like the one linking to Dr J, that is basically an ad hominem attack on the blogger, not the blog post, which the regular commenters jump into too, even though they've blatantly not read the linked blog before, aren't familiar with the blogger, and sometimes haven't even read the full post. This is by no means limited to Dr Isis' blog - neither is the practice of starting a whole new post criticising another blogger without first leaving a comment on the original thread, which I hate - but the nature of her blog commenting community exacerbates the situation, turning it into a pile-on on the blogger in question, and I think she knows it and does it on purpose.

Hell, I'm probably next now, but I've seen this happen a few times now and I think it crosses a line. Maybe because I was bullied myself for so many years in school, and this feels the same.

I am in no way saying that we shouldn't criticise each others' ideas, and Dr J definitely left himself open to this. But there are good and bad ways of doing it - see Dr Freeride's blog for a much more constructive way of approaching this issue. Her post might just make Dr J think "oh, she has a point there". Dr Isis' is more likely to make him circle the wagons due to the defensive instincts that kick in when you feel under attack. At least that's how I would feel.

Many apologies for the rant - I know you're an Isis fan (although I also know you don't subscribe to the goddess schtick and have called her out before). I'm expecting a shit storm for this from Isis' followers, but hey, I learned how to ignore bullies years ago.

HGGirl said...

I completely agree.

Also, remember that many people are allergic to pets. Bringing a dog to a public, enclosed place could be dangerous to those around you. (Granted, Home Depots tend to be well-ventilated.)

Anonymous said...

I would love an alternate universe where your kids could be experimented upon, rather than the superior species of domestic cats. Unfortunately that is not possible.

ScientistMother said...

Anon1 - uhmm, I never said I don't empathesize OR understand why people prefer pets over children. They are NOT equivalent though.

Cath - I understand the take it or leave thing with Isis. Yes she is a funny and talent writer, and yes she pushes things to far. I was totally pissed that she called Dr.J a lunatic and said so at the beginning of the thread. It is totally UNFAIR to attack Dr.J as a person on this issue. I've been debating about calling Isis out on the way she posted about it, but I don't think it would make much difference. The last time I did that, her and drdrA just went back and forth, with her just saying whatever. Secondly, Dr.J wasn't being very open to dialogue either. The comments on his post were pretty fair. At the end, he posted an explanation of his thoughts. I was more pissed at Dr.J for being irrational on this topic than anything else. He is not. And as someone who reads his blog all the time, I do NOT want to see him get lambasted all over the internetz.

I do not agree with the way Dr.J has approached this issue. I do not agree with his inflammatory comments OR his comparisons. That said I think its a valid issue. We must always consider what models we're using, and how can we minimize their pain/usage.

ScientistMother said...

Anon2 - seriously you're deranged. If you're going to say shit like that, have the guts to put an ID behind it.

PB said...

Not equivalent to you maybe, but you can not bully people , to accept your world view. Pets are certainly equivalent to children to a growing minority. We will just have to agree to differ.

This world has numerous opinions and we just have to accept our differences.
Unless you are a religious wacko (who we have to accept can't accept different positions on almost anything), you are betraying your obvious intelligence.

There are a lot of people , albeit a minority who think people cooing over there offspring to the world is just so sad.

It is nice you have empathy for the critisism Dr J has got, but I'm sure s/he is smart enough to realise most correspondents are from the scientific community who are biased towards vivisection .

In the wider world geographically there will be a lot of support for him/her.

Au Revoir.

FrauTech said...

This is a timely post. I'm a cat owner who will be dog sitting in my home very soon here but some family that thinks of their dogs as children. I was hoping they could stay at their home, and as we are very close we could merely stop by over the 3 days they will be gone, to let them out and take care of them etc. But of course, people equate dogs to children and think they can't handle being left alone for longer periods of time over the space of a mere 2-3 days. So my house becomes experimentation for whether or not these dogs will obey the rules of not tearing anything up or treating my floors like the yard.

However, I think the kind of attitude of dog owners (MY dog is special, and can be walked into a homedepot, and can't be left alone) is similar to that that I see in many parents (MY kid is special, and mature enough to be taken into this movie or this restaurant that is not child appropriate). I have neither kid nor dog, so I do not fall anywhere on this spectrum. Most cat owners know that our cats absolutely do NOT want to travel with us. I agree that you can't equate raising a dog or cat to raising a kid, but sometimes there is an attitude and complete disregard for other adults that is commong to both.(me tolerating a dog sniffing my crotch in public, or a kid whining/crying during a meal while the owner/parent does nothing). On the other hand, I think it's worse when people don't realize even a "nice" dog can really be a danger to children, other dogs, and cats, and doesn't respect the other person's wanting to protect their own.[/rant]

Anonymous said...

I have 2 kids and a dog, and so I've spent lots of time with other parents and other dog-owners. In my experience, the parents are far more indulgent of their offspring than the pet-owners are of their pets.

ScientistMother said...

FrauTech - I have to agree with your friends. Yes dogs are fine outside, but they have to walked daily. They need the exercise and unlike cats, you can not just leave food out for them over a few days. It needs to be provided daily.

Are their bad parents with misbehaved kid? Gosh yes. Don't get me started on that subject, I'll never stop!

Anon3 - this isn't about what is better. Its that they are not equivalent. Like I said to FrauTech, you don't want to get me ranting on the complete lack of boundaries some kids have. It drives me nuts. Which doesn't mean kids shouldn't be out at restaurant etc. Children will only learn how to social appropriately if they are out and about with their parents. HOWEVER, boundaries have to set. If crossed, the parent has to be willing to remove the child. Its hard, and admittedly I fail at it sometimes.

Fia said...

Thanks for that post, ScientistMother! I agree with you that people should always come first, and all societies I know of in this world also put that down in their legislature statutes. While there seems to be some disagreement about this on the individual, emotional level (why post most of these pet-above-human people anonymous?), the agreement on the society level is pretty clear, and who ever doesn't like that should go and live on an uninhabited island and make up a new society.

My emotional side is pretty like yours: when I hear somebody comparing babies with pets, I get very angry.

However, I also think that Dr. J didn't mean it in the overarching way that it got to look like, - my interpretation was more that she got defensive, and didn't think through what she wrote anylonger because so many people attacked her. The primary thing she wanted to express was, in my interpretation, that she had difficulties thinking about that experiments are being done on cats, and that she doesn't like that it's done.

Dr K said...

If I was driving down a road and a cat and a kid ran out simultaneously I would swerve to avoid hitting the cat, if I hit the brat so be it.

Jackie said...

I think this is all getting out of hand.

You clearly are more emotionally attached to kids. Fine. Great.

Others consider their pets more/as important, even comparable.

Don't let it wind you up. Why does it matter ?

It's like saying someone's taste in music is better than someone else or religion. People with such strongly held positions are never going to agree.

Minority positions should be tolerated without all this talk of banishing to islands.

All this is subjective - the majority view isn't necessarily better or worse than the majority.

In general majorities are shortsighted , selfish and this is the case here.

Rigid loyalty to one's kin is very base.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Thanks, SciMo! I saw your comment defending Dr J on Isis' post, and thought you got shot down unfairly. I made the same point much later, but by then the whole thing had moved on. I too get defensive about my blog buddies!

Jackie, I'm sorry but comparing pets vs kids to different styles of music just doesn't cut it. There are numerous moral, cultural, biological and evolutionary reasons for giving priority to members of our own species. I went through phases when I was a kid of saying that I preferred animals to people, but that was because some of the people in my life at that time really sucked, and I lacked the maturity to see beyond that.

Anyone who would seriously rather hit a kid than a cat while driving is so far outside the norms of society that comparing the situation to liking hip-hop rather than rock is simply unbelievable.

People first. And I'm an animal lover who has 2 beloved cats but doesn't want kids. Yes, we should treat animals as well as we possibly can, but not at the expense of human lives.

Melanie said...

I personally don't have a problem with dogs at Home Depot, but other places ohyeah. Get them out of the video store, the coffee shop, the clothes store. I do not want my new shirt smelling like whatever your dog just rolled in, thanks.

Have you seen the dog strollers? How ridiculous IS that?

I agree, animals are pets. Not babies. I adore my Nimoo-kitty, but she is a cat. I'd never dream of taking her shopping with me. I do think that she cares, she misses me while I'm gone, and she feels. However, I can still go away for a weekend or more if necessary and leave her at home. Can't do that with a baby.

ScientistMother said...

Cath - thanks! I just don't have it in me to address some of the more "out there" comments.

Mel - its the lack of a dog on the leash that really gets me. I was at HomeDepot again last night (its my home away from home) and another dog was running around off leash. This was a medium sized dog and its just inappropriate. Maybe its because I am so conscious of having my Large dogs on leash at all times that it aggravates me so.

Funny thing is I don't mind the dogs at the coffee shops as long as their outside

Juniper Shoemaker said...

This is by no means limited to Dr Isis' blog . . . but the nature of her blog commenting community exacerbates the situation, turning it into a pile-on on the blogger in question, and I think she knows it and does it on purpose.

You know what, Cath? You've managed to eloquently articulate some doubts of mine that have been troubling me for a few weeks now. And I am a huge fan of Isis.

I dislike discussions of how any given blogger blogs. However, I'm considering outing myself soon, and, accordingly, I've been thinking a lot about how I want to blog thereafter. I'm ambitious, and I'm a half-black aspiring scientist, and I'm a non-traditional student. I would love to write a blog that earns the same crazy-high traffic as Isis's does. (I'm really sick of feeling like there is no prominent voice for someone like me. Anomalous as I am, I count, too.) But, lately, I read some blog posts and comments-- not just Isis's, either, not by a long shot-- of people I totally adore and ask myself, "Why am I kind of annoyed? I'm not usually annoyed over here. Is this author really being salacious and bullying, or am I just getting jealous?" And then I honestly don't know the answer-- I can't even tell to what degree the answer is both-- so I just don't comment. Is this the sort of response I have to aim for to get traffic?

I read Dr. J and Dr. A's blog fairly regularly. Dr. J's "Beautiful Cats" post shocked and disappointed me, but so did Dr. Isis's calling him a lunatic. Yeah, I agree, "I value cats' lives and human babies' lives equally" is a batshit insane moral tenet-- I would find it hard to consider myself worthy of my fellow humans' trust if I weren't unhesitatingly willing to put the life of a member of my own species first*-- but he does have a right to it, so long as he doesn't commit violence against other humans. I find it very hard to believe that Dr. J's actually gonna go out and harm, say, neuroscientists who use cats in their research. Do I know I'm right? No. But I'd need a lot more evidence than angry blog posts before I could unflinchingly call him a lunatic before thousands of readers and fellow scientists.

Yeah. I know what it's like to be bullied, too.

I wrote and erased without publishing a comment on Dr. Isis's post, and then I largely ignored the blogosphere in favor of writing to various people "in real life" about finishing my master's degree and stressing out about it. Now that I've made this comment here, though, I will have to go over soon and make it there, because otherwise this isn't fair to Dr. Isis.

I'm expecting a shit storm for this from Isis' followers, but hey, I learned how to ignore bullies years ago.

Funny, but I always assume all the Alpha Bloggers like their detractors more than their indefatigable worshippers. People are contrary like that, and bad-asses don't like kiss-asses. When I compliment bloggers, therefore, it's merely me being lame and telling the truth, rather than trying to get them to like me.

*Incidentally, it aggravates me how many commenters/trolls seem to think this necessarily has anything to do with "superiority" vs. "inferiority" as well as "preference". In terms of evolutionary theory, nothing's inherently "superior". Meanwhile, in general, I actually like cats better than I like children, in terms of companionship. I have no children, have never had children, actually can't help (irrationally?) viewing children as career-and-relationship-killing traps and do not plan to have children. But what the fuck does that have to do with anything? I think it's evil not to work to protect every single human's personhood the way I want my own to be protected. Additionally and more on topic: you don't choose experimental subjects based on what species you personally prefer as companions. Which brings us back to the important issue with respect to Dr. J's argument.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Thanks Juniper!

Funny, but I always assume all the Alpha Bloggers like their detractors more than their indefatigable worshippers. People are contrary like that, and bad-asses don't like kiss-asses.

I suspect the same thing, including with Isis, which is why I expect the "worshippers" rather than the "goddess"! But like I say, my perception is that she exploits that dynamic in certain situations. The fact that 2 of the people on the receiving end have been people I've read for ages, have actually met in real life, and like, gives it an extra resonance with me.

Good luck with your future blogging endeavours! I would say that when it comes to traffic, quality is more important than quantity. You have something to say and people who want to hear it. Blogging is perfect for this kind of niche!

Right, I'm off to the pub.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

p.s. if you post/comment about this elsewhere, feel free to quote anything I said on this thread!

ScientistMother said...

Juniper - the superiority of humans vs pets is interesting. I've been pretty shocked at what some of the trolls have been saying. I'm not going to hate on Isis. Its her blog and she write the way she wants. I don't always agree with her, and tell her so. It amazes me how so many totally dislike her and still comment on her blog. I like Cath's way of doing it, if she doesn't like it she doesn't read it.

In regards to outing yourself. Only you know how that will work. I've debated it myself. I personally have not because I don't want the notoriety. Are minority, non-traditional science students underrepresented. Totally. But outing yourself doesn't change that. It may limit your bloggable topics etc.

I also don't think you have to be inflammatory to get traffic. Just true to yourself with high quality writing. Look at DrdrA, she's not doing to bad herself you know.

Cath - mmm beer...

Fia - I don't know what Dr.J meant. I do know he's not a lunatic, but it is very scary to be when someone with who is a scientist makes those types of comments, because the real "crazies" use it in their propoganda

Skeptic said...

Dr J has ben very inspirational to me. Thanks Dr J, you're brilliant.

Meeow said...

Interesting stance, I'll look out for you when I'm next at Home Depot

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

It amazes me how so many totally dislike her and still comment on her blog.

I know! What's with that?! I'm not into shoes, so I just don't read those posts, I don't comment on them to complain. I see the same thing all over the blogosphere and it makes no sense. Every blogger will have the occasional post about something I don't care about... so I don't read those posts and pass on to the next one. It aint rocket science.

Melanie said...

I can't comment on Isis and her blog, haven't really gotten into her. But back again nonetheless ..

They were offleash? UGH. So not okay in my books. Dogs outside of the house belong on a leash, unless they are in an "offleash" park. There is just too much chance of a dog running into another one and having a snarling hissyfit that injures someone. Nope. Not okay.

In a coffee shop, no. Waiting outside on a leash, tied in such a way that people can get in and out without getting sniffed? Fine. On a leash in an outdoors seating area, fine.

Ugh. Dogs are not babies. They are not people. Last I checked no words in the charter of rights and freedoms applies to "persons" of canine or feline descent.

Juniper Shoemaker said...

While I was roaming the aisles, I had to save monkey from a dog.

By the way, this is awful. Cats should stay indoors. (They live a lot longer when they do, too!) Dogs in public should stay on leashes, out of reach of strangers and outside of shops (with the exception of pet stores only).

In college, at a small photographer's studio, I met a woman who had been mauled by a dog (off its lead) in a San Francisco park. I was there for passport photos. She was there to take shots of her wounds for court. For ten minutes I stood off to one side of her, waiting my turn. Then she turned her full face directly to me, and what had looked like the "normal" face of a young attractive blonde woman in profile suddenly transformed into a visage completely uninjured on one half and significantly puckered, twisted and scarred on the other.

I will never forget my shock. It's not that she was repulsive-- she wasn't-- it was just that it struck me as so unfair. It was so unfair it hurt. She'd had seven corrective surgeries, but her physicians hadn't been able to put her completely back to rights. She'd been in the park minding her own business, sitting on a blanket with a companion and reading a book, or something like that. "But dogs are dogs," she said calmly to me. "I guess I gave it some signal that I didn't realize I was giving."

Yeah. Exactly. 'Cause it was a dog. With a dog's brain. And with a bitch-ass irresponsible owner. I really hope this woman won her case. I never found out whether she did or not.

I love dogs, but I refuse to treat them like people.

Juniper Shoemaker said...

p.s. if you post/comment about this elsewhere, feel free to quote anything I said on this thread!

Thank you, Cath! For the encouragement as well. I hope you had fun at the pub!

@ScientistMother: Thanks for your input as well. I haven't made up my mind about outing myself.

I lean in favor of outing, though. (I've mentioned this on Samia's blog, too.) There's something to be said for transparency and the counterintuitive way that it can empower one. Additionally, my pseudonymity is gauzy-thin as it is-- in fact, one of my former professors (who blogs-- even about crazy political shit-- under his real name) stumbled across my blog and linked to it a little while ago.

I don't know. I could also do what Orac does and start a second blog under my real name whilst keeping the pseudonym on MFS, more for search-engine purposes than out of some concern over people knowing who I "really" am. I don't have Facebook (because I hate it), so I have my online presence to think about, too.

Isis the Scientist said...

Well, well, well. This is quite the enlightening comment thread.

I went back to my own post and reread it. Never did I say "Dr. J is a lunatic." I went to my blog's little search engine and searched "lunatic" and found that, while I have called myself a lunatic, I have not called Dr. J a lunatic.

What I did say was that his words equating animal researchers to pedophiles and making the statement that he would subject someone to the same procedures a researcher performed on his cat were lunacy, scary, and wacky (I think I got them all).

I didn't say it to troll for traffic. I said it because it's the truth. Violent statements aimed at another researcher, even a hypothetical one, are never acceptable. Never. I think my post made that very clear.

That said, when I disagree with someone, I throw my feelings about them out there in the open. I think that's a greater courtesy than leaving them in the comments thread of a blog post that was not written about them.

Comrade PhysioProf said...

Dr J and Dr Isis are both bloggers. The whole point of blogging is to speak the unvarnished truth. Blogging is not a motherfucking care bears tea party. If you don't want what you write to be publicly criticized, then password protect your blog and only give the password to people you know will only tell you what you want to hear.

Juniper Shoemaker said...

CPP, I don't think disagreeing over the efficacy or fairness of one blogger's public criticism of another amounts to an argument against free-for-all public criticism.

Nothing is a motherfucking Care Bears tea party.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Dr Isis, I did leave a comment on your original post saying much the same thing. Which is that Dr J's ideas are fair game, ad hominem attacks are not. ScientistMother did the same thing, before I did, and when she said "Dr J is not a lunatic", you specifically refuted her.

Should I have come over there and repeated the point on your own blog? Maybe... but this is where I happened to be when the frustrations boiled over and I found the right words to express them.

Full disclosure: I've met Dr J, he's a nice guy. Maybe defending my friends is where my own irrationality manifests itself, as I said on the original post, everyone is irrational about something.

Isis the Scientist said...

Cath, I just went back to my blog. I saw the couple of times I commented back and still don't say where I called Dr. J a lunatic. I echoed again that I thought his words were lunacy. I don't see that as much different than SM calling them crazy or irrational there of Juniper calling them "bat shit insane" here. You did come over to my blog to voice your concerns about the post.

I've actually unsubscribed from that blog a few times, mostly due to the comment threads. There's a unique and weird vibe over there and the faux goddess-worship schtick creeps me out. I then resubscribe, because she's a good writer, covering interesting topics, and occasionally very, very funny. Plus half the blogosphere links there, so it's easier just to read it myself. But I tend to stay in Google Reader and don't click through to many of the posts any more.

Fair enough, Cath. There are a lot of blogs I don't read myself. There aren't enough hours in the day. This happens to be one that I do read regularly. But you didn't leave that comment on my blog, did you?

Dr. J might be a cool guy, and it's great that you've met him. I've met some cool bloggers too. Doesn't mean I don't find the comparison of researchers to pedophiles disgusting and that I shouldn't openly say so.

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

But you didn't leave that comment on my blog, did you?

No, I didn't.

Did you leave a comment on Dr J's original post?

Isis the Scientist said...

Nope. I sure didn't. I did link to him and ping his blog. I gotta agree with the good Comrade. If you don't want your shit talked about, don't say it publicly. If I spent my life calling out everyone who said something about me without commenting on my blog...

Oh, wait.

If your biggest concern is that I didn't comment in a thread where someone said the types of things Dr. J said, I say get over it. My comments were not made in secret. If you have concerns over the tone I used, fine. But, this goes beyond someone just being irrational. With regard to this particular topic, on the other side of the line from irrational is where people start blowing things up.

Becca said...

I held off from commenting because it seemed too much an attempt at a point-by-point rebuttal of the original post.

So now I'll start off by agreeing with something, since Juniper provided me with a great opening...
"I think it's evil not to work to protect every single human's personhood the way I want my own to be protected." This is my basic ethical stance too- it permeates my thinking about ethical issues.
That said, I have met people who think it's evil to not work to protect the personhood of sentient animals. I allow for the possibility they may be "right" and will in time convince the rest of society. In the meantime, I don't have any trouble with that view, as long as it involves elevating the position of animals rather than debasing the position of humans. It may not be how I look at the world, but it's usually a morally sound position- provided it's a personal guiding principle and not an excuse to get all vigilante.

This is another one of those disagreements that I think is intensified by seeing things in 'tribal terms'. Dr. J. sees cats as his family members, and people have a pretty strong 'natural' incentive to be protective of their families. In a broad sense, it sounds like ScientistMother sees scientists as her 'tribe' more importantly humans-in-general; and obviously feeling protective toward them makes sense too.
I think Dr. Isis carries it a step further in that it appears she wants to stimulate social censure of for (what she sees as) Dr. J's act of defection from the scientific community. While I can certainly see the "this gives aid and comfort to our enemies" angle, and Dr. J. used fairly inflammatory language, I think Dr. Isis' response was even more inflammatory (although the humor involved to moderate it was very well executed).

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Nah, that wasn't my biggest concern.

It's a lose-lose situation, really. If I'd gone back to make a second comment on the original thread, if I'd got a reply from anyone at all, it probably would have been a chorus of "how dare you come over here and tell Isis how to blog on her own site".

BTW if this discussion keeps rolling, I'll only be able to check in sporadically today. There's an internal deadline for studentships and post doc fellowships at the end of the day, and since this is our biggest source of trainee funds, I have four applications (and panicky students) to deal with!

Comrade Physioprof said...

Nothing is a motherfucking Care Bears tea party.

Motherfucking care bears tea parties are motherfucking care bears tea parties!

ScientistMother said...

Whoa people! Its a beautiful sunny morning. I came into the lab, stained some discs and then checked my email to find this! How many different tangents will this post go on!

Isis - its your blog, do what you want. When I read the post, I read it to say that Dr.J himself was a lunatic. Which is why I commented specifically that he was NOT. You may not have explicitly stated Dr.J is a lunatic, but the implication was there. Were his comments, view point, lunacy? Sure. I just prefer to have the issue discussed as opposed to the person. Many of us were shocked at what we read. Which is why we engaged (or tried to) in a dialogue on his blog.

I did not participate in the comment thread on your blog, as I felt like Dr.J as person was being attacked as opposed to his viewpoint.

Becca - When you say that it is a point by point rebuttal are you referring to the post or the comment thread? The post was not about Dr.J specifically. It's my frustration with the idea or concept that dogs/cats/pets are somehow equivalent to children/humans. They are not. It was instigated by the freaking small dog that came running up to my child in the middle of HomeDepot, freaking the shit out of him.

Should animals be treated with kindness and compassion? Yes. Should they be afforded the same rights and protection as humans? Maybe. Do they have the same emotions, thoughts and feeling as humans? NO. As Juniper said they are still animals, with animal brains. They need to be controlled.

Isis the Scientist said...

SM, I just don't get it. You say yourself that Dr. J's statements are lunacy. If anything, I began my post by making the point that Dr. J's statements come from someone we generally think of as quite reasonable. That's actually part of what made them so scary. So, it seems to come down to two things -- first, people are cheesed that I didn't leave my comments on Dr. J's blog. Again I say, get over it. The point of public blogs is to engage in conversation about things. If you're concerned that someone might notice something you've said and want to talk about it, make your blog private.

The other issue seems to be that my commenters are perceived as having been mean to Dr. J. I didn't write those comments. If you've got problems with them, take them to task over it. Or blog about how crappy their comments are. Still, if you think someone there attacked Dr. J's character, that still doesn't equal me attacking his character.

Isis the Scientist said...

PS: I'm probably going to blog about this. I'm letting you know in your comments section.

Becca said...

Scientist Mother- sorry for the ambiguity. I mean my initial impulse in responding to you, in this post, looked more like a point-by-point rebuttal.
(what I was going to say might sound pedantic- basically I felt you were conflating the problem you encountered at home depot- the problem of an irresponsible pet owner- with treating dogs like children.
That is, if an older child had come and threatened/scared your monkey, I hope you would have been equally protective. It would also have represented an egregious lapse of judgment on the part of the parent to let a child run amok in home depot.)

ScientistMother said...

Isis - I think it comes to down to the fact that some us read Dr.J's blog regularly and we think of him as our friend (similar to how you and I are think of each other as friends). We didn't like that it his personhood was being attacked versus his viewpoint.
If another blogger wrote that they disagreed with your viewpoint (like Cath disagrees), I'm inclined to have a discussion of it. If someone were to attack you as a person, I would be pissed, since I think of you as my bloggy friend.

Was this a post about your post or the comments on your post. Nope. It somehow got to that. It was a post on my annoyance with the comparison or equalization of pets and children. Heck you weren't EVEN mentioned in the post...

ScientistMother said...

Becca - I have tendency to not be very clear in my posts, especially when I am venting. I get annoyed at the fact that dogs and cats are equated with children. Normally when I see dogs in HomeDepot, I roll my eyes and think "urbanites and their dogs". On this occasion, the dog was unleashed and walked up to monkey to sniff. It was a small dog, but monkey does not like small dogs. He's not much bigger than them and he has been jumped on by other small dogs. The owner did nothing to indicate he was controlling the dog. To ensure monkeys safety and to prevent anything from happening, I had scoop up him up. What if the dog tried to lick monkey? He'll get scared and hit the dog, escalating a situation that did not have to happen if the dog was on a leash or not inside the store. Seriously, what is the dog doing in the store? Is s/he going to give you an opinion on the tile or paint options?
Would I have been pissed if another child had come up and pushed my monkey. Yes, but monkey has the skills to deal with such a situation. How is a 2.5 year old supposed to react to a dog the same size as him? He's learned to vocalize to other children to stop etc. He can't push a dog back, it'll bite him. But here's the thing. I expect children to hit other children or say mean things, I watch out for those interactions to negate situations before they arise. I don't expect or anticipate a dog being loose inside HomeDepot.

What I actually find humorous is the number of cat lovers that came out and were making comments about hating kids etc. I specifically went into home depot to find a non-toxic pest repellent, because I did not want to actually kill the damn raccoon. If I didn't care about animals, I would just put out some anti-freeze.

MGS said...

I am pretty sure a few years ago Home Depot changed their dog policy to no longer allow dogs. Perhaps they have re-instated allowing dogs in their stores. I get upset when I see dog owners not controlling their dogs, but not all dogs and owners are irresponsible like that (it just seems that most, unfortunately, are).

It is a mistake to equate bonding with a non-human animal with treating that non-human animals like a human. I am very close with my dog and other animals I have been responsible for, and I take that responsibility seriously. It is not their choice to be "kept" and they don't have much control over themselves and their lives, so it is our duty to provide them an interesting and species-appropriate life. For me and my dog, this means giving him opportunities to exercise and explore, to work, and to interact with other dogs. I find it interesting that some people think that because I spend a lot of time with my dog, or because he stays in my house and sleeps in my room, that I am treating him like a human and not like a dog. Dogs are very social animals and they sleep with their packmates. To leave a dog outside is therefore not treating him like a dog (unless you're not his packmate).

It is also our responsibility to give our pets the tools they need to handle the very human-centric world in which they live. My dog has problems with anxiety, and those problems are alleviated by being out in public on a regular basis. We sit outside at coffee shops, we walk around town, and we go to stores that welcome pets (like the bank, hardware store, pet store, etc). I think anyone who is disrupting the peace in public, be it a young child who licks the muffin I just bought, or the child who is screaming and throwing a tantrum, or a dog who approaches a person unwelcomed, or a dog who is barking and causing a fuss, should be asked to leave. If a person or a dog is not causing harm I see no problem with that dog or person being there. I don't understand why many commenters on here are categorically against dogs in public places. Would anyone care to explain what is wrong with well-behaved, leashed dogs in non-food public spaces?

Socially intelligent animals (especially those with an abundance of von Economo neurons) do have emotions and consciousness, though of course it varies across individuals (which you can readily observe in humans and dogs, some of whom have strong personalities and empathy for others, some of whom seem completely oblivious to the needs or emotions of others). Of course humans have more awareness and brain functioning, but many other species (dogs, dolphins, elephants) are fairly close. It looks more and more like the difference is a matter of degree, and not a qualitative difference.

MGS said...

I should also mention that I think it's never ok to let a dog approach a person, especially a little kid, unless invited (either verbally or with clear body language). I can't stand overly "friendly" dogs who get right in kids (and other dogs') faces uninvited.

ScientistMother said...

MGS - welcome to the blog. yes it does seem like a matter of degrees. Yes dogs are very social animals, and they need to be cared for in an appropriate manner. Taken for walks, given appropriate games etc. I agree with almost everything you say, except sleeping with my dog. That is my opinion. That does not make me a bad or irresponsible owner.

Again its a matter of degrees. I don't think people have an issue with dogs in public places, its just inside all public spaces. Public spaces have to be shared with everyone, from those who love their pets and think they are their children to those who are horribly afraid or allergic. If you are in the bank with your dog, then I (an equally important client) am not able to be if I am either scared of dogs (many are) or have an allergy. Plus as Juniper pointed out. Animals have animal brains. As much as we train our pets, they are unpredictable. Which is why unfortunately so many attacks happen.

madkathy said...

Heaven forbid administer drugs to animals in the name of research, but I'm sure plenty of indulgent pet owners would be happy to administer this to their beloved pets. After all, it will treat a disease for which there is no other treatment!

Thomas Joseph said...

Dogs in public should stay on leashes, out of reach of strangers and outside of shops (with the exception of pet stores only).

If not all states (in the US) have leash laws, they should. I never let my dogs off their leash. It is as much for their safety as it is for those people I might come in contact with. While I know, via their training, how my dogs will react to other individuals, I have no idea how they might react to my pets.

My dogs have all been obedience trained, and I've considered having the "Canine Good Citizen" test administered for them. It's a necessary requirement for pet therapy dogs.

As for their being allowed in stores. I am very fond of places which allow pets inside. As a matter of fact, I frequent them more because of their policy (and I let them know about it). I guess it's a personal preference.

However, I concur with the basic premise, dogs are not children. Anyone who suggests they are on even par, need their heads checked. It's that plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Karachi Hotel said...

Very true. I am agree with your point of view. actually i am also just like them but not in the sense of they part of our family.

Anonymous said...

Dear Scientist Mother,

You’re just another jobless human with ovaries that was able to crap out children. Congratulations on doing what a superior governing source programmed your body to do. As for your intellect, I’m floored by your utter naivety in expressing hard, fast claims about the lack of cognitive and emotional capacities of animals that have been well documented by actual scientists (i.e., not you) -- people who spend their days studying animal behavior instead of wiping shitty butts and snotty noses. Your science sucks. You’re a mean person and a judgmental flesh producer. The only thing you lack more than an accurate assessment of animal emotion is wit and class. As far as your little “experiments,” they’re doomed for failure based solely on genetic predisposition.

Anonymous said...

Amen! Some of us Homo sapiens cannot procreate. Congratulations to Scientistmother, she who is decidedly uneducated in the area of non-human intelligence, on her ability to ovulate and breed like other animals lower on her food chain. I suppose she forgets in her superiority that loving animals and pets is as close as some human females are ever able to get to being mothers. However, even if I were able to take part in the creation of a child, I dare say I wouldn't be so irresponsible or vulgar as to refer to the raising of it as a scientific experiment. How crass and inelegant! Is Scientistmother an actual scientist? I doubt it. I would think that anyone who has earned such a designation would have the wherewithal to think of the implications before discharging such a deluge of nonsensical excrement. I recommend she read "Animal Wise" by Virginia Morell first before reevaluating her position.

Anonymous said...

Seek help for your mental illness.

Anonymous said...

I definitely agree that pets are not children and comparing them is so far off base.. but a lot of your blog post is just factually inaccurate. There is actually a great deal of research on dogs and emotions (at this point) that show they actually do have a range of emotions that is very similar to our own.

Crazy Ask said...

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Ashley Jones