I'm a dog lover but would I buy one over the Internet? Maybe
Anybody who knows me knows that I’m a fool for a dog. Not every dog that ever lived; rodent-size yappers leave me cold. However, to my wife and me, a house without tooth-marked chair legs and tumbleweeds of hair in the corners barely qualifies as a home.
That pungent odor that makes fastidious visitors wrinkle their noses on rainy days? That’s the smell of unconditional love.
Some years back, I phoned my veterinarian pal Randy about a newspaper article reporting that academic psychologists had decided that dogs feel emotions. I asked if he that found newsworthy. Never one to mince words, he said “A [bleeping] dog is emotions with a nose.”
Google “dogs greeting soldiers” and watch a few online videos of deliriously happy animals greeting their masters returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Anybody who remains dry-eyed must never have experienced canine devotion.
Almost as puzzling as dog haters are people who keep pets but have no earthly idea how the animals think and feel. Cesar Milan has made a handsome living off dog owners whose cluelessness makes “The Dog Whisperer” one of the funniest things on TV.
In real life, however, not every story has a happy ending. Consider the sorrowful experience of “Emmi,” a 5-year-old German shepherd who spent a terrible few days in a crate flying cross-country between a dope in New York who bought her and a doofus in Washington state who sold her, then resisted taking her back as if she were an out-of-warranty used car.
The story, reported in the New York Times, invites disbelief. One Jason Dubin, of Port Chester, N.Y.,contracted over the Internet with Kraftwerk K9, a Washington state outfit that imports, breeds and trains German shepherd protection dogs, to buy Emmi sight-unseen for $7,500.
Actually not totally unseen. There’s a video of the very beautiful animal on the firm’s website responding flawlessly to her trainer’s commands—heeling, sitting, staying and retrieving a dumbbell with impressive zeal.
If anything, Emmi’s a bit over-trained. Throughout the video, she’s obsessively fixated on the trainer’s hands, from whence, no doubt, hot dog pieces came. I prefer a canine companion to a veritable slave, a dog that registers its surroundings and goes about its doggy business. What Emmi’s like when she’s off-duty, there’s no telling.
“Emmi was portrayed to us as an obedient, well-trained, even-tempered dog,” Durbin told a reporter. “But within a week, I soon realized that Emmi was an aggressive dog who posed a great danger to my family.”
Specifically, Emmi stands accused of “terrorizing” the cat (horrors!), biting another dog under unspecified circumstances, and attempting to bite the Dubin’s 8-year-old son. Concluding he couldn’t control her, he informed Kraftwerk K9 that he was putting Emmi in her crate and shipping her back to Seattle.
Kraftwerk K9’s owner Wayne Curry, in maybe the worst marketing decision since the New Coke, announced that as the firm’s 72-hour returns policy had expired, he wouldn’t collect Emmi at the airport. Still crated, the poor, confused and no doubt despondent animal eventually spent overnight in a Seattle kennel, before Curry relented and sent somebody to retrieve her.
Still bickering over money, both men pronounced themselves glad that Emmi hadn’t ended up being euthanized at the city pound.
As the saying goes, you wouldn’t treat a dog like that. Anyway, where to start? First, nobody as clueless as Durbin needs a protection dog. Ninety-nine percent of a big dog’s protective value is its bark. Otherwise, an amateur’s just asking for trouble.
Second, $7,500 for a middle-aged animal? Why was Emmi still available?
Buying a dog on the Internet is like marrying a Russian mail-order bride. Unpleasant surprises are all but guaranteed. If Durbin needed a designer dog to brag about, he could have bought one from a respected local breeder at a fraction of the price. That way, he could have evaluated the dog’s temperament—canine personalities vary almost as much as human ones—or even asked a knowledgeable friend’s help.
Then he could have donated the remaining $7,000 to the Humane Society.
In defense of poor Emmi, even the best-trained dog is not a DVD player. They don’t take orders from strangers. German shepherds in particular form strong emotional bonds with their masters; they need time and patient handling to adapt to changed circumstances.
Gradually introduced to her new family, Emmi would probably have learned to leave the cat be. She’d also probably had little or no contact with children. Durbin’s concern is understandable, but if the dog meant to bite his son, she wouldn’t have missed. The dog felt overwhelmed, and snapped a warning.
Maybe Emmi’s a canine head-case, they definitely exist. More likely, she’s a victim of human folly. All Durbin ever really needed was a golden retriever or a mutt from the shelter.
That said, I’d try Emmi out in a heartbeat.
Arkansas Times columnist Gene Lyons is a National Magazine Award winner and co-author of "The Hunting of the President" (St. Martin's Press, 2000). You can e-mail Lyons at firstname.lastname@example.org. More Gene Lyons.
More Related Stories
- Here come the tornado truthers. Already
- Peace Corps to allow gay couples to volunteer together
- Moore officials: Funds for "safe rooms" were held up by red tape
- Rand Paul: Congress should apologize to Apple, not the other way around
- Rescue crews race to find tornado survivors
- Looting in Oklahoma?
- Hundreds of low-wage federally contracted workers strike in D.C.
- Okla. mother's tearful reunion with her 8-year-old son
- New campaign compares gun control to anti-LGBT discrimination
- Study: Salt Lake City is gay parenting capital of the U.S.
- Inhofe and Coburn: Red state hypocrites
- Teen activist to meet with Abercrombie CEO
- Watch: Family emerges from storm shelter after tornado
- Must-see morning clip: Barackalypse Now
- Okla. tornado survivor reunited with dog trapped in rubble live on camera
- Is Pope Francis an exorcist?
- Oklahoma death count confirmed at 24, 9 children
- Frantic parents search for children in tornado's wake
- Crews dig through rubble after deadly tornado
- 51 killed in massive Oklahoma tornado
- Don't cry climate-change wolf
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11