Dinah, ClinkShrink, & Roy produce Shrink Rap: a blog by Psychiatrists for Psychiatrists, interested bystanders are also welcome. A place to talk; no one has to listen.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Raising Poochie Right
Okay, psychiatrists know about mental illness, but we are called on to comment all different types of issues regarding relationships, development, what transactions are likely to lead to mental health or mental distress. I'm expanding our area of so-called expertise even further, and feel inspired to comment on an article in today's New York Times, "Should Your Dog Be Watching TV?"
Regarding new TV programming made especially for dogs, Douglas Quenqua writes:
If your dog does show interest, it probably can learn from what it sees on a television, Ms. Anderson said. Exposing a pet to muted versions of everyday irritants like vacuum cleaners and doorbells, for example, is a time-tested method for reducing the animal’s fear of them. But an important aspect of the technique is amping up the volume as the dog grows comfortable — so, depending on how quickly a dog learns, the owner may want to hover nearby to turn up the DogTV volume.
But — of course — dog owners shouldn’t mistake TV time for quality time, animal behaviorists cautioned. “It definitely isn’t a substitute for play time with your dog,” Ms. Anderson said. “Exercise can solve a lot of behavioral problems.
Oh my, programming includes grassy fields, bouncy balls, quiet vacuum cleaners, scenes to comfort, entertain and teach dogs, and to address anxiety, agitation, and decrease separation anxiety. It just makes me think that raising children is hard enough and you have to worry about what you expose your children to, how much time they spend in front of screens, whether you're using your TV as a babysitter, how you're going to schedule piano lessons so they don't conflict with tennis team, homework, and religious school. The nice thing about having a dog is that it just gets to be a dog. You walk the dog, pet the dog, feed the dog, be with the dog. Until now, you didn't have to worry about all the influences on the dog: how much TV is the right amount of TV? Is it okay to go for a walk in the woods or will Rover miss an important learning segment on TV? What if the dog finds some segments soothing (is he just transfixed? Is this healthy?) but finds other segments over-stimulating? Look, yet more things to worry about, as if life wasn't complicated enough.
I may have to trade in the dog for a gerbil and hope they don't invent Rodent TV.
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Isn't the Mickey Mouse Club, Rodent TV? Dunno if they do it anymore though, lol.
Is using an aquarium screen saver on your TV or computer, Cat TV?
I'd think dogs would prefer a smello radio, that transmits smells, to a tv. But then, I'm remembering my MIL's shihtzu, Posey, who likes to plop her but down in the afternoon sun on the rug just inside the front door and watch the people, dogs, cars, bicyclists, skaters, skateboards, etc. go by through the glass storm door. Her little head sometimes moves like she's watching a tennis match, it's so cute!
I have had mostly dogs that ignore TV, but currently have a dog that was rescued as a tiny puppy from a wild dog colony in Egypt. She is extremely alert and has an aggressive disposition. She watches TV with me and leaps barking at the screen when she sees dogs, horses, or other animals. There is the occasional human on screen she does not much like either. She especially enjoys (or pays attention to) PBS historical dramas (and luckily so do I) because of the many dogs and horses on screen. I like them for the period costumes. My only worry is that someday she is going to leap directly at the large flat screen TV and in the worst case scenario, bring the monster crashing down on her. So far she seems to stop (and I stop her) when she get close to the surface.
The article failed to mention the affect YouTube can have on a dog. The aforementioned dog, love (or hates depending on you perspective). I like "funny dog" YouTube videos. It turns out that when "Mishka" (one of the YouTube dogs) talks, it make my dog go wild and interact with the computer. So we also have quality computer time together. Sorry, but she does not like ShrinkRap. You'd need a talking pig rather than a piece of bacon or quacking duck rather than the picture of the duck to get her interest. She like animal noises as well as the movement of the animals across screens. "Mishka", the talking husky, probably is her favorite computer viewing so far. I think of it as quality family time. I am waiting for the videos that teach dogs to heel, sit, stay, down and house train them.
Sarebear, I suppose Mickey Mouse was rodent TV. Picture all the house mice lined up watching.
Sunny CA, your dog came from EGYPT? Wow. What does it cost to fly a dog from the middle east?
Sunny, if you would like to tell us how your dog was rescued from a wild dog colony in Egypt, and how you came to get him, I for one would very much like to hear it. Animal Rescue here in the States is well established, but I never thought it existed in Egypt.
There's no animal tv in Ireland. And I agree with you that "the dog" is intended to be one of the less complex aspects of life. Here's somethin I wrote last year as our dog approached the end of his days:
That's, for me, the essence of what dogs are about.
We have two new dogs now, since March. Family had to emigrate, as so many have had to in Ireland due to the utter collapse of our economy. We took their four year old dogs, Masie and Oakley. Somehow, the house felt less like home ( although cleaner! ) without a dog
The story of my dog from Egypt:
My husband is a consulting geophysicist on field collection of "seismic data". Perhaps you have seen articles in the news about seismic vessels that create sonic "booms" under water that are being blamed for hurting sea mammals. There was just such a story recently about dolphins dying. A seismic boat had been working in the area and is being blamed for the deaths, but it is unproven. I could explain the surveys, but I won't, except to say my husband goes to remote locations on land and in the sea and he supervises the work.
One job was in Egypt, near the mouth of the Nile, north of Cairo. There are lots of deltas and small branches of the Nile. The crew of about 50 contracted to use a large area of vacant land outside a small town, inside an Egyptian coast guard station. It gave them security as well as space to set up their trailers. Not far from the trailers was a feral dog colony. However, these were not dogs that were released last month or last year from someone's home, but a self-sustaining group of dogs that may have been living there for a hundred or more years. My husband is an extreme dog lover. As an aside, my psychiatrist met with him alone for a couple of hours in conjunction with seeing me, and told me that he has Asperger's. He likes dogs more that 99.9% of people, so he started going out to the dog colony for hours every day. It's along the Nile and the dogs go down to drink and find food that washes up on shore. One time a whole dead donkey washed ashore while he was there. My husband took lots of photos. The dogs dig dens in small hills to raise their young. My husband came to be able to pet some of the dogs and took them treats from the "mess". Meanwhile, his communing with the dogs did not escape the attention of the crew. One day somebody found 2 puppies in a mud puddle and picked them up and brought them to my husband in a box.
(To be continued... It would not let me post the entire piece)
One day somebody found 2 puppies in a mud puddle and picked them up and brought them to my husband in a box. My husband took care of the pups for a week, then got his driver to take him and the puppies to Cairo where he took them to a vet specializing in the Ex-Pat population of Cairo. This was arranged for him by the "country manager" who is a representative of the oil company who takes care of in-country logistics like procurement of food, trailers, water for the crew. Since my husband is the top person on the job, the company manager had no problem with the request. The 2 pups stayed at the vet for a month, then my husband went to pick them up as he was leaving the country. The vet purchased air-carriers for my husband so he did not even have to do that part of it. The pups went from being so young they should have been with their mom to being about 8 weeks old when they left Egypt and 6lbs and 9lbs respectively. They were very well taken care of by the vet who allowed them to scamper around his offices. The vet filled in the paperwork which required knowledge of the pups for a certain length of time and certification of their health. In reality he did not know the pups for the required length of time, but he signed. Everything cost a lot. The vet. The flight. I don't recall the cost, but it was substantial. Getting through American customs was a snap. They had their paperwork and went sailing through.
(to be continued)
Within a week of being in the USA both pups got distemper. They were terribly ill and both hospitalized. I don't know if they caught that at the vet or enroute, but if they had been that ill on exiting Egypt or entering the USA, they likely would have been barred unless somebody wasn't doing his job. In the end, the temperament of these dogs is different from domesticated dogs. I recently read a 1-page article in National Geographic that they have discovered that "village dogs" hanging around the outskirts of African continent villages are genetically much more primitive than modern domesticated dogs. I did a year of dog training classes and hired a really top notch dog trainer, but still had (and have) behavioral issues. When the pups were a year old, they formed a "pack" within my household with one of the other dogs and the 3 of them, started attacking my old dalmatian. I gave away one of the Egyptian pups who was then about 14 months old to break up the "pack" within a pack. The dalmatian died a few weeks later of an abdominal tumor (not related to the pups). On Google-images search "dog Egypt near pyramids" and you immediately come to a photo that looks like my dog (dog-in-the-sahara). I have let Blaze run in an open area near my house and one day thought I was watching her on the slope and I was watching a coyote,and she was off somewhat to the right. She is very similar to a coyote, but somewhat more golden color, white feet and a white blaze on her forehead. Some of the dogs look more like thin, small german shepards. Adult size is about 45 pounds for an American-fed Egyptian village feral dog. They are similar to Canaan dogs which are an AKC breed that comes from village dogs in Israel. Same genetics as my dog. This is by far the most difficult dog I have ever owned. She is loving and affectionate and I trust her with me, but she hates other dogs and is a hyper-guard dog. I have to walk her in areas away from other dogs.
In terms of Egyptian treatment of the wild dog population, it is in-humane. There have been huge roundups where the dogs are shot. My husband witnessed people kicking dogs and trying to run them over with cars. There is rampant cruelty and no kindness towards them as they are regarded as dirty varmints. My husband called me up crying day after day on that job because he was in such despair over the state of the dogs and the treatment he witnessed. I suggested he rescue the puppies as a way for him to feel he was doing something. In the end, though, I often wish I had a golden retriever instead of this highly reactive, aggressive animal. I do love her, but it is not a smooth ride.
Wow! What an amazing story. Your husband sounds like a remarkable man.
My husband does has a very people-oriented career, but he likes dogs much better than people, too.
This is the spitting image of my dog:
I discovered that there is a group dedicated to saving Egyptian dogs:
Here is a question for you. I constantly read that one role of the therapist is to model a healthy relationship with the client, so they have this experience. I wonder if there are additional ways to go about improving relational ability such as courses, books, etc. I still feel short of relational ability. When people make me angry, which takes way too long, then I get way too angry. I wish I could change this.
What a nice dog! Sunny, that is an amazing story. Thank you for posting it. You have a remarkable family.
Your husband (and Dinah's) might agree with Madame de Stael, who first said "the more I know of men, the more I prefer dogs."
I can't resist. One more photo that looks just like my dog, AND this dog is the face of the PETA adopt a dog campaign in Egypt:
Thanks for the the kind words about my husband and family. I still remember when my husband was at the airport in Egypt with the two dogs. For some reason his credit card was denied for the puppies fare. It had to do with making a large charge from Egypt, not with the credit card per se. He called me up in a state of near collapse, crying, and I very nearly flew over there to help him navigate the situation, since practical arrangements are one of his weak points. Luckily I was able to talk him through it on the phone, and he made it home with the pups.
That is SUCH a cute dog!
Awesome story! Have you ever heard how the one you gave away is doing?
Seeing as that it takes human children a few years to learn jack from TV, I'm not entirely convinced a dog is going to pick up a lot from it.
Making sure my kid gets to preschool, Gymboree, and dance classes is enough for me. The pets can just hang out around the house and chase the occasional insect that makes it's way in the house, thank you. My atonement is their ridiculously expensive grain-free food and vet visits that total as much as my therapy and psychiatry copays.
I visit the other pup every few months. Her human parents have grown children and young grandchildren and she enjoys the grandkids. She is totally devoted to the parents of her human parents. The "grandfather" died and she would not leave the foot of his bed until his body was taken out. Now she won't leave the still-living grandma's side. She used to act like "my dog" when I visited, but she has switched her affections, which is good. I missed her for a long time and it ripped me up when I thought she was missing me.
Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Anyway, I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon.
My two-years old Boxer likes to watch tv too, it seems that he is very interesting in watching the mickey mouse shows.
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