Monday, October 10, 2005


THE SANDBAGGER


I don’t have a dog, and am not thinking of getting one, but many folks around here have dogs - the dogs are happy in the mountains - and in my walks I see dogs here and there in the towns, most recently on a walk we took in Ohara over the mountain, where we passed a middle-aged Labrador retriever lying stoneskull bored on the concrete doorstep of his owner’s home, his leash tied to the veranda post.

He watched us walk by coming and going (some action at last!) and each time raised his head to look as we spoke to him - and he listened - his attentive eyes showing no hostility, no threat to bark or lunge, he was an especially intelligent dog, bred to run in wild fields and plunge into waters to retrieve hunted birds softly in his mouth, pleased to help, action and knowledge bred into every cell and sinew of his body, and he just laid there bored to death, getting fat, most probably never retrieved a bird in his life, never did at all what he was bred to do…

Seeing him I was reminded of a born-to-run Irish setter near where we used to live in Kyoto, that spent all his each and every dismal day in a cage not much bigger than he was, barely enough to turn around in, and when we’d walk by he wouldn’t even raise his majestic red head, just roll his eyes up to us as if to say shoot me now, his hunting life and marathon breeding more unfulfilled than a samurai salariman in charge of rubber stamps.

We’d stop and talk to the setter and pet him, but it was painful to kneel there and reach through the bars imagining all that beauty running free. When I saw that Lab retriever tied to the post where he was spending all his waking (and likely sleeping) life, it occurred to me that dog owners should be strictly licensed to own certain breeds of dogs, and be required to use the dogs only in the activities (or suitable equivalents) for which they were bred.

As a corollary it occurred to me that maybe a new breed is advisable, a dog bred solely for lying in cages or tied to the veranda post all day doing nothing whatsoever, that I would name the Sandbagger, a full-fledged canine with no ambition other than eating and repose, his life fulfilled to the utmost by complete inactivity, carefully bred for the cage and any form of strict confinement his lifeless masters could think up: he’d just love it, maybe on rare occasions wag his tail at very low frequency to indicate that he was still alive, which would be about all such owners need in their pet.

7 comments:

Dalene said...

Somewhere along the line, they committed the crime of being a dog. The Humane Society is full of dogs abandoned there for behaving like a dog. The images that you mention are heartbreaking. Even a Gerbil gets a wheel.

enigma4ever said...

I am a dog person, well, more of an animal person, but for over 25 years I have always had a dog by my side....and most found their way to me....I go for long walks- so for me it makes sense that I should have a dog by my side to share the sights and sounds and lovely smells. I currently have a little sweet Basenji- she is a blond beauty. I call her Lilly. She also is deaf- and was passed through many homes in her first 10 mos., the complaint being "She does NOT listen, or follow directions"!!!? And all I could think was: Were these EIGHT previous homes BLIND????! ( before her I had two lovely Bassatts and a Scotty- all so different and wonderful, each truly a blessing to have on the path- each abandoned or disgarded by other fools.)
I read what you wrote and you are so right that these creatures deserve so much better.....The one in the cage- his owner should be caged....There is NO excuse for such treatment...During the Katrina Disaster it was the dogs on roofs - waiting that just broke my heart over and over....

Anna said...

We too have a neighbouring caged dog, belongs to a woman who re-married - the new husband hates it. It is kept on concrete, alone, fed in silence, ignored. I talk to it through the fence and it goes mad with joy. I have offered her a fortune just to get it away, but am always refused. Just think, Robert, we know of two - how many hundred thousands must there be living in misery? No legislation exists to help. Perhaps you had better go into that Sandbagger breeding and make a fortune from being compassionate.

Robert Brady said...

The heartless market is vast...

Anonymous said...

Have you seen many Shiba Inus on your walks?

~Anna

Robert Brady said...

One of our neighbors here on the mountain has a three-legged Shiba, rescued from car injury in the city, very spunky dog. Shibas are very gentle and perky, the most commonly seen canine down in the village and in the city, but folks tend to have big dogs up here on the mountain, where there's room to run.

Jenn said...

Got my proper sized dogs. Pair of chi mixes, 10lbs+, not a spot of fat, tiny 30' of fenceline a decent run, and the hall of the house for winter fetchin'.

Both rescues, from shelter and humane society.

The neighbor across the street, that got a yellow lab pup as an outdoor yard ornament, finally gave him away. Two years old, no manners, no housebreaking, no chances. So very sad.