Monthly Archives: August 2008

Dreamscape

Well it’s the usual Friday, except it’s still pouring and it’s a long weekend and I’m going to try and camp. Ick.

But I’m going to relate a dream I had two nights ago. It was amazingly visual and perhaps this was one of those muse visits. In the dream:

I’m driving some kind of Rolls Royce down the highway and several people in the car (I have no idea what they looked like) said I was going too fast. Then we’re in this meadow, which is hummocky with sparse trees, a few old locks and rocks. It’s light green and brown and looks an awful lot like my friends’ ranch in Clinton, BC. I’m driving down the middle trying to avoid various humps when a moose comes up to the car. It’s small for a moose and has moss on its antlers.

Then up the middle comes this amazing animal. It looks like a deer but in truth it is made of wood and moss and twigs and leaves and its alive. We just stop and look at it, noticing its dark eyes.

Next, as dreams do like to shift, I’m walking with some people into a glacial snowy area. There is a huge mountain and something like a high white shelf piled with hundreds of feet of snow. I look up think it looks pretty weighty and then proceed into the cave that turns into this long, downward sloping roughly chopped snow tunnel. It is in pale shades of green and white and light blue and just at the bottom I can see it starts to slope up again.

Then we hear a rumbling and great torrents of ice and snow flood up the passage, an interior avalanche. I manage to crawl out some side holes between the grey rock with two other people. Five are left in there including two friends, Karin and Eric (who I haven’t seen in years). Once it stops we go back in to find them and all the snow has turned to sand. We pull each person out from under the sand and besides being slightly damp and unconscious, they wake and are fine.

A friend of mine likes to interpret her dreams but I’m not sure I can with this. The interactions with nature were very strong. And groups of people mattered but were mostly anonymous.

Many of my dreams are muse driven, that is, they end up becoming stories. I don’t think this one will and even though there was that avalanche the feeling in the dream was one of wonder, where no one was injured. The colors were vivid and important, and I really hope this is not just a portent of early winter.

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Music Magicians: Eno & Byrne

A new collaboration between David Byrne and Brian Eno has come out, their first in thirty years. If you don’t know who they are, Byrne is of Talking Heads fame http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Byrne and Eno is just a god. He’s produced numerous albums including work on David Bowie’s, U2’s and Coldplay’s albums to name a few, not to mention his work with Roxy Music and Talking Heads.

I’ve always considered Brian Eno an artist first; an innovator, a sculptor. Far more than a musician he experiments with sound. He did some of the first samplings in music when he and David Byrne produced My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (which coincidentally I found the book with same title years ago, by Amos Tutola about an African shaman–I never quite finished it as it’s very nonlinear). I love some of his early albums, which to me have not become dated because they’re just so different. Taking Tiger Mountain and Another Green World are two of my favorites. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_eno

Eno’s Ambient Music (for airports etc.) never did strike me as being more than sophisticated musack but he was working with nearly subliminal perceptions and gradual changes in music that go unnoticed until you go, hey, that changed somewhere along the line. I always liked the quirkier stuff. I don’t have everything and need to still find a lot of these in CD, if they exist. Eno and Cale have always been a bit more eclectic and experimental and the pop rock crown may never have heard of them. But anyone who is a serious musician, especially knows of Eno’s work. He’s been listed on some albums as playing the Eno or something may have been Enoized.

One of my all time favorite albums ever is Wrong Way Up  by Eno and John Cale, he of the Velvet Underground. Unfortunately I had it only in tape and was hoping to transfer it to CD before it was stolen from my car (who steals tapes these days?). So now I’ll need to see if I can buy a CD. I’m hoping it exists. You can never tell with these guys.

Anyway this is their new album, Everything that Happens Will Happen Today, exclusive through the internet right now, and that’s where you order it.  http://www.everythingthathappens.com/

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The Ark: Spiders and Snails and Slug Trails

It’s raining here in Vancouver and some people might think that’s normal West Coast weather but we usually get a summer and intermittent periods of sun throughout the year. However this year, we had a particularly wet and cold spring, with the first ten days of June being the coldest on record. July was hot and dry and glorious.

And now…it’s raining like there will be no tomorrow. Time to build an ark. I mean, it’s torrential downpours lightening to heavy rain. Okay, so we are in a rainforest but still, there should be a good long summer. Back in 1998 I think we had a summer of no rain and no sun. It stayed cloudy and hazy the whole time. Plants barely grew and many yellowed and died in the ground because there just wasn’t enough heat or sun.

But back to that West Coast ark. The animals that would first board it, or slither onto it would be snails and banana slugs. There are the ubiquitous snails that crawl over our plants and the sides of houses. If one hankered for escargot (a fancy word for garlic flavored, butter dipped rubber), you could just pluck them from gardens. And slugs, when I first moved to Vancouver my friends in Calgary didn’t believe me when I said there were slugs up to a foot long. After all, the biggest a slug gets in Calgary is about two inches, if it’s massive. (They’re a different breed too.) But these natives to the coast are slimily large and have a high ooze factor. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banana_slug 

The first banana slugs I ever saw were when we visited cousins in Kelowna. We were talking on the sidewalk as the sun started its descent and I kept looking back to the side of the stucco house. There were two large black things on it and I swore they had changed position. I finally pointed them out and my mother said, oh they’re giant slugs. She was joking but in fact they were and remain the longest I’ve ever seen, being each a foot long. Eyewww.

Then I spent a year upgrading hiking trails along the Baden Powell trail in North and West Van. That’s when I saw the rainbow of slimy critters. Sometimes they looked like glossy piles of pooh…until they moved. They were white, yellow, black and brown, sometimes with spots and averaged between 6-8 inches. I used to “accidentally” drop rocks on them. I was young and they disgusted me but I now realize they play an important part in decomposition and recycling of organic wastes into new soil. But they are so so slimy. Settle has had slug races in the past and you can buy life size magnets.

Slugs remind me of my younger brother’s wicked experiments when we were kids. He’d gather up a bunch of garden slugs and put them on the sidewalk in the hot sun. Then he’d surround them with a ring of salt. Death by salt or by sun. Usually they would try to swim the channel of white salt. They got their payback the day he was puttering in the garden. He went to take off his garden gloves and pulled them off with his teeth…getting a mouthful of slug. Hmmmm.

I also wrote a kids poem, a cautionary one about a slug that likes beer too much. You can leave a pot of it in your garden and they’ll just slide on in and drown drunk. Of course you’re left with the gooey stew to get rid of then.

I can’t forget that on this West Coast ark, besides snails and banana slugs, there would be wolf spiders. I once had arachnophobia (somehow cured by working those hiking trails) but wolf spiders still creep me out. They’re the size of small mice, have long eyestalks (okay it’s probably their mandibles but they look like eyestalks), are hairy and move fast, way too fast. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolf_spider I usually find one in the tub, it having gone for a drink and getting trapped by the porcelain sides (It’s not true that they come up from drains, and I have a hair catcher on mine, though I wouldn’t put it past the buggers to push that hatch over.)

The other night I caught a bit on the Discovery channel of a computer re-enacted piece on prehistoric times. When the oxygen was super rich and the planet super warm, there were dragonflies the size of eagles and spiders the size of your head. Yeee. Keeping that in mind, wolf spiders don’t seem so bad but they still give me the heebie jeebies.

I’m hoping we’ll get sun again because there has been so much rain that all of these denizens are creeping and slithering about. If I had to board an ark with them, they’d get their own hermetically sealed section.

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Movie Memories

I’m not sure why this memory has surfaced now but I got thinking about the movies I remembered from my childhood, specifically the ones I saw in theaters. The Jungle Book was definitely in there. To this day, every once in a while, a song will go through my head, or the lines as I remember them. Such great hits as “Bongo bongo bongo, I don’t want to leave the jungle. No no no no.” Or “Ooo Ooo Ooo, I wanna be like you ooo ooo, I wanna walk like you, talk like you…” And of course the truly classic “The Bare Necessities.” Gotta say I loved that film that I saw sometime in the 70s.

I remember my sister, six years older, taking my younger brother and me to see The Sound of Music. It was winter in Calgary, or near enough that there was still snow on the ground. My sister in some vain act of teenagerhood, had worn inappropriate footwear and spent the first part of the film whimpering as her feet thawed. But in the self-centered way of children, I heard her but stayed riveted on the film. I recently had the opportunity to see this again on DVD with a friend. My friend Kit, a sound actress, and once a stage actress, did some of her first stage work as Liesel. She had very interesting other versions of songs, such as “I fell in a pile of goat poop,” which I think is “The Lonely Goatherd.” I can still sing “Do-Re-Mi” even if I’m not a singer.

Movie theaters in Calgary were still these grand affairs, seating 400 people, with large screens and the magnificent, usually red curtains that drew back in majesty. Popcorn was a must and matinees were noisy affairs. I still like the old theaters, of which there are a few in Vancouver, and not always but often, I’ll buy popcorn for the nostalgia. Because I also worked in a movie theater and know that popcorn is cheap cheap cheap I find the exorbitant prices and the oily stuff they often put on instead of butter somewhat lessens the nostalgia for me.

Herby the Love Bug was yet another matinee movie and I remember the least about this film besides a VW bug, yellow I think, bopping about and rescuing people, or something.  For movies in my childhood, those three are it. We didn’t see that many. But there were the drive-ins.

Ah yes, the drive-ins, a unique invention for those big four-child families. We would go in our jammies, with blankets and pillows and homemade popcorn and snacks. That was the good memories. Unfortunately the drive-in was usually prefaced by some huge monstrous screaming (sometimes throwing) fight between my mother and my father. She would bundle us up and off to the drive-in we’d go.

They had those monster teardrop shaped, metal speakers that had to be wedged into the window. If it was a colder time of year, you would roll the window up, and every once in a while turn the heat on to defog the windows and warm the car. Imagine all that exhaust in a vast parking lot with a movie screem.  

The only two movies I ever remember seeing at a drive-in were The Fall of the House of Usher and The House of Seven Gables. They’re blended together in my memory and maybe both were at the same driven-in night. The late, wonderful Vincent Price starred in both. I remember bleeding walls and a tumbling house, which was probably Usher, since it was about a sentient house, based on the Edgar Allan Poe story. There was a bleeding locket and Vinny pickaxing his sister in the forehead, which was from Seven Gables, based loosely on a story by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Perhaps that’s why I grew up with a penchant for weird and fantastical stories and read some of Poe and a lot of Ray Bradbury. My mother didn’t seem to mind letting us see such graphically gruesome films. I think I was six at the time. Definitely the images has stuck with me ever since, but considering what was going on in my family, they really weren’t that scary.

I should ask my brother some day if he ever had nightmares from those movies. I like those early memories from The Jungle Book to The House of Seven Gables, and yet both have strong images for me. I guess that’s why my muse comes from different corners at times, and though I write lighter or even humorous pieces, I often have a dark aspect to my stories.

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Writing: Language and Typos

This is just a random sampling of words and styles I have found of late that seem to be commonly used incorrectly.

The post popular words for misspelling, even amongst people with university degrees or masters are:

  • burgundy–often spelled as burgandy…it’s organdy but burgundy
  • definitely–it’s definite that finite is included but it’s never definate
  • espresso–you may want your coffee quickly but the concentrated brew is always espresso, not expresso

I won’t even get into pronunciations. It’s new klee er, Mr. President, not new cue lar.

And I cannot forget that tiny little word that gives people so much consternation: It. That’s it, but what happens when you make it a possessive or a plural. It is a particular, idiosyncratic word that doesn’t follow the convention of most possessive.

When it owns something, it becomes its. When it is doing something, it becomes it’s. An easy way to remember the right form is this: if you have a sentence and you can turn it into “it is,” then you use it’s. Its dog bone fell in the hole. It’s a dog’s life. In the first sentence I can’t say, it is bone, but in the second I can say, It is a dog’s life. Oh, and there is no such thing as its’.

I saw this one so much recently I had to shake my brain. If you have a sentence of dialogue, it goes into double quotes (for Canada and the US). If you have a sentence with a quote in part of it, it still goes into double quotes, not single. For example; He was known for his “zoot suits,” white spats, and top hat.

And last, Canadians and Americans hyphenate numbers (really, it’s a en-dash, but let’s not confuse things). We don’t write twenty four but twenty-four, thirty-six, seventy-seven. Things get very confusing when we toss in Europe because there are different rules for different countries. Germans capitalize all nouns. North Americans want to capitalize more nouns than they need to. British put punctuation outside of quotations. French capitalize very little. Canadians do a bastardized form of American and British spelling. (Drives people batty, but we understand it.)

As a copy editor, even when I’m not editing I’m still editing. I can’t help it. It’s my anal gene. It especially gets me when I see advertising brochures that have huge typos. Uh, guys, if you’re spending that much on marketing, hire a proofreader too.

And last, dear reader, should you write something and want to exclaim about it, you’re only allowed one exclamation point! It doesn’t become louder because there are six exclamation points. Erotic writers tried to get carried away with this as if it was a prolonged orgrasm. Get it? And not more than one in a very large swath of writing. Okay!!!!!!

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Double-Speak: A Rose by Any Other Name?

I don’t know when we decided to reword the English language to actually obfuscate what is really being said. Perhaps it’s been done through history. Obviously speeches and what’s written descriptions have definitely given different shades of truth, and as we know, history is written by the winner. The truth of history wavers between downright propaganda and lies, to the cold, hard unembellished facts. That means no adjectives like “horrendous, spectacular, brutal, amazing.” Just reporting what happened.

In this current world propaganda is more likely to be found than cold, hard truth, and everything in between is where most “truth” lies.

Once upon a time there were housewives. Now they’re domestic engineers but the term is dissolving back into housewife or the more popular stay-at-home mom (or dad). There used to be stewardesses, but now they’re airline attendants, which is more appropriate because there are men and women, though stewards for all would work fine. There used to be mailmen but now there are letter carriers. Changing terms for gender equality in the workplace is one thing, but then there is the world of politics and sensationalism.

The one that always drove me crazy, and still does, is collateral damage. So, what, it makes it better if we say that people weren’t blown to smithereens in a bombing but there was collateral damage from the bombing? Puhleese, it’s still dead people. Who cares about the buildings. We care about people and it could easily be reported as people killed and a building destroyed. And while we’re mentioning bombs, it’s now an improvised explosive device. Did homemade bomb no longer cover the fact that some are made in the field? Perhaps we should call them field improvised explosive devises, or we could just say bomb. Oh and there is also the incendiary roadside device.

Who thought of these things? Is there a think tank being paid comfy salaries to come up with “better” words for roadside bomb and land mine? More words, more syllables, is somehow better. Someone out there must think these terms are more accurate, or maybe they’re just more all-encompassing, therefore watering down the image of what really is happening.

It seems the areas where words take on longer, more sophisticated versions of themselves, is especially in the world of violence. War, bombing, terrorism, murder, rape. Oh yeah, rape. A person no longer rapes someone. They now sexually abuse them. Sexual abuse covers a larger range of issues, from butt pinching and fondling to brutal rape. Wait a minute. Brutal rape? Is any rape not brutal? Nope, but the media might say brutal rape. Maybe that’s why they went to “sexual abuse” as the term; to cut down on the colorful adjectives. But sorry to say, rape is rape, no matter how you word it.

I can’t help but see this double speak as some sort of attempt to be a polite society or to cover up the facts and keep people dumbed down. I’ve always been interested in language and etymology. I’m sure there are many more examples out there and maybe this is part of the era of political correctness but I fail to see what makes a longer description as more accurate. Sometimes a spade is just a spade.

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Writing: Advice on Getting Published

A little while ago someone asked me:

 I am here desirous to find a faithful publisher for my book…. What useful counsel can you give to me.

I’m not sure what is meant by faithful publisher but finding a publisher is a mixture of you wanting them and them wanting you. There are literally thousands of publishers. There are some that publish all types and genres and others that specialize. So the first thing to do is figure out if your book is a how-to, a biography, history, fantasy, romance, literary, sports, spiritual, etc.

Once you know who your reading audience is, you can then research publishers. Writer’s Digestputs out a series of books on markets. They’re specific, such as, literary markets, short story markets, romance markets, etc. These books give good information on how to write a query letter, which is the first step to what to include in your submission package. Some publishers only want a query letter. Others want a letter, a synopsis and the first three chapters. Some only want agented submissions, which means you must go through the process of querying agents first. It’s best to read up on what the publisher wants first. They received hundreds of manuscripts and someone who hasn’t bothered to research the market and sends something in the wrong format or way is likely to piss off an editor and have their manuscript tossed.

Writer’s Digest also lists publishers and markets, giving short descriptions, addresses and editor names. It’s good to read up on the advice and then to start submitting. It’s important to make sure you submit your manuscripts in the proper format, which in most cases is double spaced text, no extra space between paragraphs, regular font and size, no right justification, word count, page numbering and name. There is enough information out there that tells you what to send and what not to.

Outlines by chapter, or synopses also are often required so make sure they’re laid out well and contain what is the main action/point of each chapter. Taking courses or workshopping manuscripts as well as outlines is not a bad idea. And of course, making sure your manuscript is polished and free of as many grammatical and spelling errors as possible does improve your chances.

Besides researching the right publisher for your manuscript, it’s not a bad idea to check the legitimacy and publishing record of a publisher. Find out what they’ve published and do internet searches both on the publisher name and the book titles they’ve put out. There are vanity presses that charge you to put everything together. Your chances of making a profit are small. There are print on demand publishers that will work out a deal for self-publishing but depending on how they’re set up, you will need to figure out how to advertise and distribute your book. Unless you know what you’re doing, you could have some very expensive doorstops and going with established well known publishers with marketing departments and established distribution is worth it’s weight in gold.

I once edited a book for a friend who was writing a guide on places to walk your dog. He did his own layout and found a printer. Then he found a local book rep who would market it to the bookstores and see to distribution through a local book distributor. That worked well but the book was locally focused. In most cases you’re going to want national distribution if you hope to make any money or sell your book.

Then all you have to do is keep submitting your book to publishers until they bite. Sometimes they’ll ask to see a few chapters, and then they may ask to see a full manuscript. This process can take months. Expect the average of three months before seeing a reply to even a query. It’s best to send out query letters to many publishers at once. Persevere. Like writing it takes work to get published and some is just the persistence of sending out your manuscript until you hit the right publisher at the right time.

http://www.writersdigest.com/GeneralMenu/

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Art Olympics

Well shiver my timbers and call me a dumbbell. The other day I talked about “Video Gaming as an Olympic Sport” and facetiously suggested a few new ones including writing a novel and caricature drawing. Well, who knew, but there were once art Olympics, or art contest at the Olympics. Total surprise to me but the founder of the modern Olympics, the French Baron Pierre de Coubertin had a vision which included art.

The artistic competitions were hotly debated and contested, getting off to a rocky start for Sweden in 1912. Only 35 entries were received. The categories for art were: sculpture, architecture, literature, painting and music. Not all categories were filled and gold, silver and bronze medals were not awarded in all. All art pieces could not have been previously published (though there were exceptions for architecture) and all had to relate to sports in some way.

Due to excuses of funding problems or note enough time, the next art Olympics were in 1920, then for the years of 1924, 1928, 1932, 1936 and 1948. The art categories sometimes had subcategories such as prints, paintings and water colors/drawings for the painting section, but it could vary from one Olympics to the next. After the initial entries of 35 pieces in 1912, there were usually over a thousand, and thousands of people viewed the exhibits.

The biggest problem was that the Olympics state that athletes must be of amateur status and it was contended that the artists were professionals. The art Olympics were canceled but the Cultural Olympiad took their place in 1956, showcasing various artistic forms in conjunction with the Olympics. I didn’t know there was a special name for the festivals and to tell the truth I’ve never heard of the Cultural Olympiad. But then I’ve never been to the Olympics and considering the Olympic committee’s penchant for branding, of course there is a Cultural Olympiad.

So, art is no longer an Olympic sport, alas. Video gaming could possibly become one, but I doubt it. But if you’re at all interested in being part of the artistic Olympiad for Vancouver’s 2010 Olympics then you can check it out here: http://www.vancouver2010.com/en/CultureEducation/CulturalOlympiad/ArtistRegistry/Guidelines

And below is a database of all countries, medals and Olympic sports, including the art Olympics should you like to see who won. Nazi Germany won quite a few in 1936 Berlin Olympics. Somehow not a surprise. I’ll still dream of writing haiku, villanelles, sonnets and plays at Olympic speed and wiles.

http://www.databaseolympics.com/games/gamessport.htm?g=10&sp=ART&enum=130

http://www.databaseolympics.com/sport/sporteventlist.htm?sp=ART

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Media Frenzy

I don’t read the paper and I don’t watch TV. I also rarely but occasionally look for news on the internet. However, I’m not ignorant. I listen to CBC Radio One’s news & interview programs usually all day. Sometimes I tune out.

Since the time that I was a kid news has changed. It didn’t used to be as frequent for one thing, just at 6:00 and 11:00 pm, or that’s what my kid mind remembers of TV news. There was no internet. Newspapers did whatever they did. I sometimes read them as a teenager but I wasn’t always reading the front page.

Now we have 24-hour news networks, through TV, radio, internet. We’re bludgeoned with news. Every media form needs to gain or maintain subscribers and really, the old adage of “no news is good news” seems very true. Who wants to hear, “Today we had a sunny day. There were no robberies or car crashes. No one was mugged. Three people died of old age and one baby was born.” Well, frankly, I’m at the point where I would like more of the feel-good news, which is usually relegated to the entertainment (Only fun about the stars) section or a small filler piece on a back page about the milk of human kindness.

Why don’t I use other forms of media? Because it’s the same thing over and over. If it’s TV and a horrible accident happened, you see the gory pictures over and over and over again. In many cases I believe this numbs people to the horrors and bleeds away any compassion. The other extreme is that it rubs people raw and gives a skewed sense of the world. We have copycat crimes because certain unstable types see it as a way to fame and to be noted. I can’t take seeing atrocities every day and several times a day. I don’t want to hear over and over all the grisly details of a murder. Yes, I want to know what’s going on in my world but I’d like it less biased, less graphic and sensationalistic.

Media used to be just reporting. But even the tamest news has some judgment and colorful adjectives thrown in. I listen to the radio because I find it the least biased, though not perfect, medium. I don’t get inundated with pictures that will spiral me into a permanent depression and belief that there is no good in the world. To this day, I have never seen even one picture of the Twin Towers falling. Not one. I didn’t need to. The terror and horror and despair I felt that day, the tearing up that still happens, is no less strong for not having gaped and gawked at a thousand nightmares. I know how bad it was. I don’t need to see it.

And I’m aware of the people who die in plane crashes, tsunamis, earthquakes, mass murders and rebel insurgencies. I know there is wrong in the world that can’t be swept under the carpet, that must be acknowledged. But could we please just temper this with some of the heartwarming things that people do. Balance it more.

What has made me think of media and good news-bad news today is the Olympics. It’s one of the few times that the media in every participating country actually concentrates on accomplishments and joy. That in itself is refreshing. Even if I’m hearing the same “Canada won four medals today” several times a day, I’ll take it for a while over the disasters.

It’s hard to keep a balanced view of the world when only conflicts and disasters are ever highlighted. Most of us follow the status quo and morals of our culture. It is the aberrants who are highlighted and pinpointed. For every bad egg there are thousands of good ones. Thousands of normal people who are willing to reach out and help someone, to give charity (as long as we don’t let the me-me-me culture take over). But we rarely hear of it unless it’s in conjunction with someone stopping a thief or averting a disaster. It’s there but usually buried under an accident or disaster.

This is why I mentioned the two little acts of kindness in “My Mental Health Day.” They were small but they made me feel so much happier. I get this same feeling when I can make a donation to a worthy cause, that somehow I’m helping to make the world better, not darker. I’ll continue to filter my news. I sometimes think the world is spiralling into darkness and chaos. But I try to swim against the tide.

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Bad Dog

In Vancouver, a man and his dog were recently attacked by three full grown Pit Bulls and a pup. It seems that the person who owned the dogs was living in his van and is now being questioned about similar attacks around BC. Of course, the media has latched onto this story (should I say, like a Pit Bull that won’t let go?) and is doing talk shows, etc. asking whether Pit Bulls should be banned. Ontario passed such a law against Pit Bulls.

When I was a kid, the breed that everyone feared and called “vicious, uncontrollable, unpredictable” were Dobermans. German Shepherds were also in there too at one time. The breed changes with the decade and people’s out of proportion fears raised to such levels by the media. Yes there are dog attacks, and yes a few end in death but it’s pretty hard to say it’s one breed. Statistics (which are sketchy at best) do not seem to show how many of one breed bite compared to the total number of that breed in an area but it seems to be less than 1 %. Banning a breed will just transfer the eyes of the media and the fear to another breed.

The only time I was ever bitten by a dog, I was walking up an alley and a Dachshund ran out and bit my ankle. I was so shocked I just stood there. It didn’t break the skin and it couldn’t reach higher, but I had done nothing to provoke it, nor had seen it before it bit.

I grew up with German Shepherds. They were fine and loyal. We did have one that showed more aggression, even as a pup. It was overly protective of my brother and might have been a problem but it was killed before it was full grown when it escaped the yard and was hit by a truck. That was only one dog.

I’ve been around a lot of Rottweilers, and terriers and dogs of all sorts. I’ve never been bitten except by that one crazed wiener dog. The “disposition” for a dog to bite is more likely to be linked to how it’s raised. People sometimes (not all the time) will buy a particular dog because they think it will protect them or make the person look more macho. Often what goes hand in hand with a vicious dog is a combination of poor or no training, lack of proper socialization and lack of proper control or attitude by the owner.

Instances of dog attacks should probably be counterbalanced with instance of dogs saving people, and good dog behaviour. There is far more of the latter or people would not have dogs as pets. I’m sure that if studies were done of many owners that owned vicious dogs, it would show the above (they didn’t train their dog) or a problem with socialization of the owner as well as the dog.

It wouldn’t be a bad thing for every person who buys a dog of any size or breed from anyplace (pet store, breeder, SPCA) to have a certificate that shows that they have had training on how to handle and socialize a dog and that they will then take that particular dog for training. The dog will then have its own certificate and should it be sold/given away, there is proof of its training too.

Such percautions would lessen the incidences of unruly dogs or dog attacks. It will never get rid of them. Sometimes dogs are provoked. Sometimes there is one that is just “off.” It’s best to never forget that a dog has the mentality of a 2-3-year-old. But with training the incidences would definitely go down. Some interesting facts: more bites happen from dogs that are leashed/chain than by those that aren’t. More intact dogs bite than those that are neutered/spayed.

When teenagers are out of control or in trouble it’s often related to what their parents are like and how they act (Just ask anyone who has ever had to teach problem children.) Likewise, if there is a bad dog, look at the owners and ask if they know what they’re doing.They may claim they do but were they trained to handle another species?

This site has some good information. http://www.goodpooch.com/MediaBriefs/GPcanineprimer.htm

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