Thursday, August 31, 2006

The War on Terriers

[Cartoon by Jeffrey Decoster, New York Times, 8.31.06]

I didn't know the "Dog Whisperer" was mean to dogs.

I didn't know that progressive talk goddess Stephanie Miller hated terriers.

I could never have imagined that the United States of America would become the big dumb bully of the universe, roaming the world in search of fights to pick, wars to start, stacks of dry wood to set on fire.

What's a dog to do?

We've never actually watched The Dog Whisperer in our house. We've never missed an episode of Showtime's Weeds, which Goose hails as Marijuana's Finest Half Hour (and which Moose likes because it features the adorable Mary Louise Parker as the perky, dope-selling widow), but The Dog Whisperer has never made it onto the family radar screen. Still, I was sad to read in The New York Times today that the National Geographic show features a big old meanie who gets dogs to obey through tactics of punishment and intimidation that can put them into a state of panic.

Readers of Roxie's World know that it doesn't work that way in our house. Moose and I have tussled from time to time over who is truly the alpha-dog, but she has usually won by being firm without being mean, and she would never try to scare me. (No snarky comments, please, from friends who know I have never been trained to not jump up and bark hysterically when visitors come to the door.) My Moose is tough love with a human face, and I honor her as my alpha-dog. Goose, of course, is another, sometimes funner story, and I lick her all-too human face in recognition of her role as zeta-dog. Every pack needs a zeta-dog ;)

But Stephie, Stephie, Stephie, why do you hate terriers? We heard it the other day when a caller called in with advice for you on your ongoing rat problem. She offered to let you borrow her dog. "What kind of dog is it?" you asked. "A terrier mix," the helpful caller replied. "Well, there you go," you said, "you fix your rat problem and then you've got a terrier," or words to that effect. We were so devastated we couldn't focus on the details, though you did go on to talk about your preference for big dogs and to make some snide remark about terriers being "high strung."


We are sad to see a dog person and an all-round fabulous grrrl such as yourself trashing a breed through stereotype and misinformation. We are disappointed to realize that you are a size queen with a bias toward large, mentally challenged breeds such as Saint Bernards. (We always knew you loved Saint Bernards. We just didn't know your love was based on some kind of knee-jerk, anti-smart dog bigotry. What is it, Steph--Some kind of No Dog Left Behind thing?) Terriers aren't high strung; we're just busier than most creatures are. And most of us aren't "small" either. I weigh in at a sturdy 25 pounds, and my cousins the Irish Terrier are even bigger. Check out this description of the Irish Terrier's temperament from the American Kennel Club's website:

Tender and forebearing with those he loves, this rugged, stout-hearted terrier will guard his master, his mistress and children with utter contempt for danger or hurt. His life is one continuous and eager offering of loyal and faithful companionship and devotion. He is ever on guard, and stands between his home and all that threatens.

What's not to love, Steph? What's not to love? Everybody needs a terrier in the age of "terror."


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Anonymous12:42 PM EDT

    Some people have no trouble living under a reign of terrier.

    The technical term for such personality types is "well-balanced, intelligent, with a solid sense of self and an awareness of their place in the universe." The terrier tends to add to "place in the universe. . ." the phrase "at the service of the appropriate terrier."

    Other people seem to free-associate, based on a misunderstanding of the word "terrier", with some French silliness from way back.

    The technical term for this second sort of person is "nitwit." has some good information and a link to the NYTimes article.

    Dudley the beagle, channeling Lacey, the terrier

  3. Anonymous12:42 PM EDT

    You notice that Cesar is never shown with beagles, who are notoriously unresponsive to punitive training methods, but who respond very well to positive reinforcement and (ahem!) food training?

    Dudley the beagle, not channeling anybody but himself


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.