Tuesday, April 04, 2006

damnfools Humane Society

Given my age, general laziness, and troublesome knee, I've been thinking about getting a dog. It's a tough decision since the dog-to-be is guaranteed to receive plenty of punctures from a certain Harris hawk. The introductions will need the delicacy level usually reserved for North Korean disarmament.

However, wherever the dog comes from, it's not coming from the Humane Society. A couple years ago I was flying a passage red-tailed hawk: passage meaning it was caught wild, old enough to be hunting on its own, and wary of anything larger than it. Its idea of prey was mice and rats. The knee was just starting to be an occasional bother, and a flushing dog sounded appealing.

I went down to the HS and had a look. Like Goldilocks, I found dogs too big, too small, too old, too messed-up. But there was a nice, slightly hyper terrier, two years old, who seemed suitable. He'd need some work to calm his spates of hyper-ness, turn it into flushing energy. I filled out the form and one of the reps came out to talk with me.

And I made a big mistake. I told him the truth: I had a red-tailed hawk and would be training the dog to hunt with it. He gave me the dirty eyeball, and after some hemming, told me that the hawk would try to catch the dog and injure it, so he couldn't, "in good conscience," let me adopt.

This young man, who knew not one stitch about falconry, knew no facts about hawks, had probably never seen a hawk closer than 20 yards and had almost certainly never seen a redtail hunt – this utter ignoramus was telling me, with 12 years of falconry under my belt, that he knew more about hawks than I do.

I should have known better. The Humane Society wants mushy people who will lavish attention on the little people in fur coats, their four-legged babies. They shudder to think dogs might have a use beyond this. The idea of "working dog" is a horror akin to children slaving in 12 hour shifts to make Pakistani carpets. They want owners who are satisfied with a dog who will sit, heel and shake.

So, advice to falconers wanting to do the right thing by adopting – LIE. Lie through your teeth! Wear suburbanite clothes, shave well, and drive your clean family sedan without the falconry or hunting stickers. Assess the prospective dogs and choose carefully, since many have neuroses from their previous owners, and will need work to overcome. Fit your profile to match the HS's assessment and requirements. Don't mention any other animals unless the assessment says the dog needs another dog companion. Don't mention kids unless the dog likes kids.

If you do all that and get the dog, you'll be giving the HS a kick in the ass for me.

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