Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Pain of Bully Ownership

Since shortly after moving in with my now wife, we have had one or more dogs. Due to my wife's allergic sensitivities to longer-haired dog breeds, all of our dogs have been bull mixes: our first pair were an American Bulldog/Boxer-mix and an American Bulldog/Bull Terrier-mix; our current pair are an American Staffordshire Terrier and a American Pitbull Terrier. All four have been great dogs. They've been friendly, happy, people-oriented dogs.

We frequently take our current pair for walks around the neighborhood. Most days, our walks are uneventful. We walk anywhere from a half to a mile-and-a-half around the neighborhood.

Late yesterday afternoon, we took our dogs for a walk. My wife wanted some stuff at the local convenience store, so, we leashed up the dogs and walked over. We decided that, rather than walk the short way around our block and back to the house, we would go home by the long way around our block. 

I'd had my head down, grinding documentation for work, all day. I had no real grasp on what time it was. It turns out, our walk back to the house coincided with when the local middle school was letting out. As we were comeing to the end of our block, the school bus left off a mob of kids. Several of them caugh sight of our dogs and came ambling over. They did the usual thing of asking "are they friendly" and, upon giving our affirmation, began to fawn over the dogs. We stood around and chatted while the dogs happily soaked up the attention. A couple minutes into this, one of the kids said, "wow, she's really pretty (referring to our blue-eyed dog, Lady): what kind of dog is she?" I replied, "she's a pitbull". All but one of the kids tensed-up and stepped back. Fortunately, the one most engaged in fawning over Lady kept right on going. She pointed out to her friends that "there's nothing to worry about - they're friendly dogs". They relaxed but didn't return to fussing over the dogs (though the one continued her attention). 

This strikes me as really sad. I mean, here they were, happily interacting with the dogs while they were unaware of their breeds. However, upon hearing the word "pitbull", immediately changed how they saw the two dogs. I get that pitbulls have had a lot of bad press over the years. And, if I were going just by that, I'd be wary about approaching them - moreso than, say, a Shi-Tzu. But, to have been interacting with demonstrably friendly dogs and then going cold at the mention of a breed? It just doesn't make sense: act based on what you see before you, not what you see re-hashed in the fear-mongering press.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Bygone Era

Being in middle and high school in the farmlands of PA, it was always such a freaking score to be able to find a place that had their stuff on the shelves. I mean, we had the local college station (WDCV) where we could hear all this great music, but no place to buy it (and, when you could find it, it was twice as expensive as the garbage on regular radio).

On the plus side, when I went away to college, it wasn't until my junior year that most other people started to be aware that I had a good music collection to raid (and my collection became an involuntary musical resource for a lot of people in my dorms and apartments). What started out as "1001 bad groups" (my cousin, John Kling, had similar tastes in music, and, one of his fraternity brothers did a charicature with that title) became the music resource for a bunch of people. When I started at PSU, I always had to scrounge for people to drive all over the state to go to small clubs to listen to bands we liked. By the end, could easily find people to make the weekly drives all over the state. 

Still and all, by the time I had the money, means and traveling companions to be able to see REM, live, they were well into the peak of their career. The best I could do were shows like the one at the old Capitals complex in Bowie, MD (please don't ever ask me to call it US Air Arena). Seating was awful, but was still a great show (well, Stipe still had an awful tendency to go on long preaching jags - you kinda just wanted him to "shut up and play" - but still, it was a good show). So, never got to see them in an intimate setting.

Oh well, era long gone. I was actually kind of surprised by the announcement, given that I'd sorta lost track of them. I'd thought they'd faded out 10 years ago.