Friday, July 28, 2006

Unfamiliarity breeds contempt

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A while back, I wrote about a stupid ordinance the city is considering passing that would criminalize every pit bull and Rottweiler in Fall River. At the time, I asked how you could enforce something breed-specific when so many dogs in this city are mixed, and so few people can make accurate distinctions as to breed.

Since then, I’m happy to say that the City Council still hasn’t figured this problem out, and it doesn’t seem particularly interested in trying, either. Happy, because that means this idiotic idea will get struck down at some point.

If passed, it will mean that owners of these kinds of dogs will have to keep the pooches locked away and never take them off the fenced-off property unless they’re muzzled, even if they don’t have any history of bad behavior — even if the dogs do nice things like work for security guards or sniff out drugs.

To be clear, I don’t want bad dogs biting people or other dogs — that’s why specific bad dogs have to be regulated. Generalizing about breeds is stupid. Plain and simple.

To illustrate why a breed-specific dog ordinance won’t work, walk with me over to the kitchen. Come on — step into my office.

Here I have loaf of Wonder bread, a jar of peanut butter and a jar of Marshmallow Fluff.

The City Council says, “We want to outlaw Fluff sandwiches!”

Fine. So if I take two slices of bread and spread some Fluff on it, that’s clearly just a Fluff sandwich. Bad sandwich! Bad!

OK. If I take two slices of bread and put Fluff on one side and peanut butter on the other, I have a totally different thing. It’s called a Fluffernutter. Remember the Fluffernutter? God, I could go for a Fluffernutter right now. On some nice toasted rye bread with a cup of hot coffee. It reminds me of my younger days, when I had no cares nor worries, a veritable picture of innocence—

My point is, goddammit, it’s got Fluff in it, but it’s not a Fluff sandwich. It’s a Fluffernutter. Is that now against the anti-Fluff sandwich law? Fluff is pure sugar and not good for your teeth or ass, but peanut butter’s actually a healthy source of protein. So does the Fluff make the whole sandwich bad?

What if I take two slices of bread and put peanut butter on both sides, but I'm a slob so I use the dirty knife with Fluff residue on it to smear the peanut butter on, thereby leaving some visible traces of Fluff on the outside. Is this now considered a Fluff sandwich, even if it's really just peanut butter? If so, why? And if not, how much Fluff, exactly, do I need to put in there before it becomes bad, before it magically attains the essential qualities of a Fluff sandwich?

Let’s say I take two slices of bread and fill them with jagged shards of glass and rusty screws, and I top if off with a cockroach impaled on a toothpick. Then I put a piece of human shit on the side, like a pickle. And I take two other slices of bread and make a delicious Fluff sandwich that’s perfectly innocuous. And I put the two sandwiches in front of you. Which one is the bad sandwich?

Which one is the worse sandwich?

What if it’s my right as an American to eat all the goddam Fluff sandwiches I want, as long as I don’t fling them at other people or try to force them in other people's mouths? I mean, if I start taking Fluff sandwiches and cramming them into people's eyes, I'm totally cool that that's criminal. But if I'm just eating a Fluff sandwich because I happen to dig Fluff and don't press my Fluff-love on other people, what's the big deal?

What if I take two slices of bread and put only peanut butter on them, but the cops are so used to seeing Fluff sandwiches running around with reckless abandon that they automatically assume it’s got Fluff in it?

What if I take two slices of bread and put Miracle Whip on them? When you put it together, it sure looks like a Fluff sandwich. But it’s actually just a very gross Miracle Whip sandwich. What if the cops say, “You’re in big trouble, pal — get that Fluff sandwich out of here!” And you say, “It’s actually just Miracle Whip!” And the cops don’t believe you and haul your Miracle Whip sandwich away to be quarantined away from Decent Society? What do you do then?

A variation of this last problem came up just recently. A dog that attacked and killed another dog in Fall River was described in a police report as a Rottweiler. By all other accounts, including that of the former city dog officer, the dog’s actually a shar-pei.

Those two don’t look anything like each other.

It’s not an uncommon problem. Most people really don’t know dog breeds very well. My dog Stanley looks like this:

I’ve had people come up to me while I’m walking Stanley and call him a springer spaniel, a cocker spaniel, a Dalmatian, a Weimaraner, a greyhound and a coonhound. But mostly they don’t know what the hell he is.

He’s a German shorthaired pointer.

He’s also not a Rottweiler. Just so you know.

My other dog, Myrna, isn’t a Rottweiler, either. Care to guess?

She’s a mix of border collie, Labrador retriever and German shepherd. So basically, a mutt.

I repeat: not a Rottweiler.

Many dogs are not Rottweilers. In fact, studies show that most non-Rottweiler dogs tend not to be Rottweilers. I should probably go ahead and give you some more examples of dogs that are not Rottweilers. Just so you know.

The Following Are Not Rottweilers

This is a shar-pei puppy (right). As a puppy, it’s very wrinkly. As it gets older, its skin gets very tight, which fills in the wrinkles. Think of Joan Rivers ten years ago, then Joan Rivers nine years ago, then make it a dog.

A shar-pei is usually not big and black like a Rottweiler. If it is, then chances are you have yourself a Rottweiler.

This is a Chihuahua (left). The Herve Villechaize of the dog world, it is very small, foreign, and sometimes hairless. Chihuahuas are sometimes carried around in purses by socialites who have nothing better to do with their lives than train their pets to be as lazy and dependent as they are.

Rottweilers are large and covered in dark fur and cannot be carried in purses, unless you generally haul around your lipsticks and checkbook in a 100-pound potato sack. I don't know. Maybe you do that. Good luck to you. Point being, there's a discrepancy in size with the dogs. Just so you know.

This is Lassie (right). Lassie is a collie dog from the classic TV series of the same name, seen here with Timmy whatshisname. Timmy is probably giving Lassie a big bear hug because the dog saved his life. Again. Perhaps it chased away prowlers or fetched Doc Watson for some reason or other. Maybe Timmy just had one of those moments when he had a strong urge to show his affection for Lassie, who appears strangely distant here. She's often got a more involved look in her eyes than she does here, is what I'm saying. There's some other personality issues she's working through we don't know about. But what I mean to say is that Lassie is generally known to be a very good dog.

Rottweilers are very good dogs, too, if properly trained, but yet are not Lassie. And Lassie is not a Rottweiler, yet she is very nice and helpful. So are many Rottweilers! Yet they're not the same. I can see how this can be confusing.

This is a cat (left).

Just a general sort of tabby cat, usually pretty harmless.

I think it's got a bow tie on, or maybe it's just a collar that looks like one. I'm leaning toward bow tie.

Well, I don't know now, looking at it.

This is not a Rottweiler. Just so you know.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dude, I can't believe how badly I want a fluffernutter sandwich now. Have I mentioned that I'm 3.5 months preggo? And until now, absolutely ZERO thoughts of fluff have popped into my head? I may have to leave me office, walk out into Harvard Sq, and see if Store 24 or CVS stocks Fluff. Unlikely, isn't it? Damn you! --julianne

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