I’m a Big Fat Hypocrite

Breaking News, Calgary, AB: I am not the Pope.

I’m not even Catholic!

And as such, I – like every other blogger on the end of a keyboard – am just a person.  A normal, falliable human being who doesn’t always practice what she preaches. (When you were growing up, did you ever have that person who said “Do as I say, not as I do?”)  I don’t take everything too seriously, and sometimes I take things way too seriously.

Sometimes there are things written here on the Soapbox that I rant about as if they should be scripture or written into law – especially when it comes to dog-related issues. And the thing about writing hastily, angrily, absolutely, or passionately about something is that you can get caught in moments of your own hypocrisy.

Jen K: Guilty as charged.

All of us face cognitive dissonance – unless you don’t think you do, in which case, you should probably stop reading now because you’re running late for Unicorn Festivus with Ironman and Princess Peach (I hear Zack Attack is opening for Jesse & The Rippers, so it should be a good time!). Sometimes we remedy this dissonance, and other times we choose to ignore it, which then makes us self-contradictory hypocrites from time to time.

If I’m being honest, there are lots of things I’m a hypocrite about.

I will roll my eyes at someone’s poor taste in television and then go home and watch Survivor. I will have a salad for lunch in the guise of healthy eating and then have popcorn for dinner. As a pedestrian, I hate impatient drivers, but as a driver I’m annoyed by ambivalent pedestrians. I think it’s important to be politically correct, but I love stand-up comedy, which is typically anything but. I will counsel my friends on “cost per wear” when shopping even though my closet contains many items that violate that rule. I will pet Moses when he puts his head on my lap because I think it’s cute, even though I know it’s reinforcing a behaviour many would consider demanding, and would even advise others against similar things.

In fact, there are lots of times I haven’t exactly ‘walked the walk’ in my everyday life based on things I’ve written right here on the Soapbox.

Pull up a chair, because it’s Bad Pet Owner Confession Time. (I know, I know, I said I wasn’t Catholic.)

Emma

Emma

I got Emma from Kijiji. From a backyard breeder.

Yep, you read that right. Many years ago, before I knew any better, I decided we should get a kitten. I impulsively looked on Kijiji, found an ad with adorable pictures, and went right out to pick her up. I didn’t even wait for the Husband to co-sign the decision. It was the exact series of mistakes I’ve written about several times here and caution others against. Aside from being certain in retrospect that Emma was taken away before she was fully weaned, and reinforcing the backyard breeding of the people I brought her from, I’m still happy we have Emma. She’s cute, she gets along with Isaac and the dogs, and we’re happy to have her. Should I have gone to a rescue and adopted one of the multitude of cats looking for homes? Absolutely. And that’s exactly what I’ll do next time.

I’m a dedicated raw feeder… unless you’re talking about snack time.

I’ve mentioned a couple of times that we feed all of our pets raw food and that I wouldn’t have it any other way. But I’ve also mentioned several times that Moses’ favourite snack is bread. That dog loves his carbs. Not once has anyone paused for a well-deserved WTF. A focus on species-appropriate and grain-free, and the occassional treat is grain-abundant bread?!  Yep. It’s contradictory and I don’t even pretend to care.

Moses

Moses

I condemn breed-specific bias, while harbouring my own.

I’ve written lengthy diatribes on the injustice of breed-specific legislation and how dogs shouldn’t be assessed based on their breeds, but instead based on their individual behaviours, since judging a dog based on its appearance ignores the real, major factors in a dog’s behaviours.

Meanwhile, I harbour my own appearance-based judgments when it comes to dogs. I’ve written about it before (here) and I’m talking about my own sized-based discrimination. When I’m walking Moses and Alma in my neighbourhood and I see a little dog approaching, I wait expectantly for the little dog to start barking, growling, and pulling on the end of its leash. Sometimes my expectations are met, and sometimes they’re not, but they’re almost always there. I try to mitigate this with the rational acknowledgement that there are lots of well-behaved small dogs out there, but, in the moment, the bias surfaces. I am aware it’s unfair and merely anecdotal, but it still makes me a big hypocrite.

I am an unapologetic stickler for spelling and grammar and yet also a human being.

It causes me physical pain when I (or readers) discover a mistake on the Soapbox after I’ve hit publish. They’re bound to happen, since once you read something a few times, your brain just fills in the gaps for you. I’m famous for missing words outright or leaving incorrect conjugations when I reword a sentence. Once found, I’ll fix them and then wallow in shame for half a day, yet I remain quick to notice and judge others for their mistakes. This makes me both a hypocrite and a jerk.

Alma and Moses at the library

Alma and Moses at the library in downtown Calgary

I break the rules – sometimes even knowingly.

This whole thing was inspired because a someone in the comments – quite rightfully – called me out on my own hypocrisy in yesterday’s Monday Mischief post.

I’ve written before about on-leash by-laws, and I will continue to write that people should obey leash laws, but I regularly post picture of my dogs off-leash in on-leash areas.

Provincial Legislature - Victoria, BC

Provincial Legislature – Victoria, BC

I was called out for doing this at a provincial park, but in reality, all of Calgary, and most of the paved, urbanized world, is on-leash unless specifically otherwise designated. So my bad behaviour actually kind of happens a lot in this respect; I probably should’ve been called out a long time ago.

Go back and look at many of the photos I post here. If you look closely, you may notice leashes tucked behind Moses and Alma in many photos, but you will also definitely notice that I’m not holding them, and that I’m usually way more than 6 feet away from them to get the shot.

And in addition to the photo ops, we break the rules when we’re training – especially when we’re practicing skills like sit-stays, down-stays, heeling while dragging the leash, and long-distance recall. I have gone to off-leash parks to practice this, though very rarely because I usually end up spending most of my time there explaining to other owners that we’re training and I’m not actually some mean ogre who “won’t let” her dogs play.

Instead I’ll practice these skills right in my neighbourhood, in green spaces, or just down the street. Because you can’t have a well-trained dog who can respond in any situation at any distance without practicing that very thing.

But you know what – it’s a matter of accepted risk. And that was what my main point in last year’s off-leash/on-leash rant. I am aware that having the dogs sit in the middle of downtown Calgary – and then backing away – has risks. It is significantly riskier than if they were next to me on a 6 foot leash. And I am absolutely ready to take ownership of any consequences.

Would I practice these skills or give my dogs off-leash privileges if they ran amok, harrassed others, chased wildlife, and didn’t stay close or check in with us? Nope. I also carefully pick and choose the time and place for said rule-breaking, and leash back up when circumstances change.

Sure, this means I break the rules while still writing about how others ought to follow them. That’s not likely to change since I have no interest in assuming liability for the poor judgment of others (my own is enough, thank you).

Does this make me one of those dog owners who breaks the rules and ruins privileges for everyone? Yeah, I guess so. I will reason that Moses and Alma are well-trained and actually good ambassadors for dog behaviour, but most people who break the rules probably think their dogs are just fine, too (I’d like to see their pictures to prove it). Hello, cognitive dissonance.

Like I said, I’m a big fat hypocrite.

Moses, Crosby and Alma off-leash in the heart of downtown

Moses, Crosby and Alma off-leash in the heart of downtown Calgary

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About ThatJenK
Writing from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. 90% pictures of my dogs; 10% miscellaneous opinions nobody asked for.

32 Responses to I’m a Big Fat Hypocrite

  1. raisingdaisy says:

    I can SO relate to this! I think we all have these little hypocritical areas in our lives, we just don’t see them as clearly as you stated them! I really enjoyed this post, though I must say I saw myself in it a lot. I think we all have good intentions with the standards we set and practices we preach, but life sometimes gets in the way and turns our beliefs upside down. Like you say, we’re only human. Great post!

  2. I think everyone is that way when it comes to certain things. I become impatient with dog owners that have dogs that lunge at us when walking, yet Torrey will do the same thing if i don’t tell her to sit and wait for the dog to pass. And driving….kinda the same thing.

  3. Jodi says:

    I think you’re being too hard on yourself and I also think we all do it.

    “I also carefully pick and choose the time and place for said rule-breaking, and leash back up when circumstances change.”

    I do too. For instance, I won’t let my dogs run off-leash if I pull up to the park and see a line of cars, and when I see people or dogs on our walks I call my dogs and leash them up. I think the key is having well-behaved, under control dogs. Unfortunately some people don’t understand this which is why all dog owners are required to keep their dogs leashed.

    I think it is more a liability issue on the part of the town/province than anything else. If your dog were to run up and knock someone down while they were supposed to be leashed, the municipality can claim no liability as they had a leash law in place which you disregarded.

    • thatjenk says:

      You make another good point, Jodi. The leash laws aren’t there to prevent me from taking pictures, they’re in place to protect others, wildlife, and my dogs. Of course, since they’re there, the correct thing to say is to obey them regardless, but I think I’ve well established I sometimes consider that a suggestion 🙂 But if the dogs are behaving and under control, I’d truly be okay seeing others do the same.

  4. jan says:

    Hypocrisy may be what makes us human…and lovable. A person who always had actions to match their beliefs would be a saint or someone we couldn’t stand to be around.

  5. Since I do some of the exact same things…frequently…I forgive you 😉

  6. 2browndawgs says:

    Beautiful pictures. To be honest your dogs off lead never occurred to me. I can only worry about what I do.

    But something you wrote made me sit up and take notice: You are not supposed to pet doggie when he puts his head on your lap? Is that a rule? 😉

    • thatjenk says:

      Well it’s not a rule in our house! But there’s an argument to be made that it falls into the realm of demanding behaviours, with begging for food and dropping toys at your feet. I see it more like I’m positively reinforcing a behaviour I think is adorable.

      “I can only worry about what I do.” – That’s good life advice!

  7. Jessica says:

    I’d get all judgy about you feeding that dog bread, but, umm, Silas possibly still has cream cheese in his whiskers from sharing my bagel.

    On leash laws: I *never* break the leash laws, unless there is a near disaster pending. Like, Silas is running full tilt and is about to hit the end of his long line (or wrap it around my leg.) But that’s not because I’m a good person; it’s because my dog is not trustworthy.

  8. lexy3587 says:

    I can definitely relate to this post – apart from judging other peoples’ taste in tv and movies. I have proven to be far too easily entertained by movies judged by the masses as ‘terrible, the writer should be shot and then set on fire’ to be able to judge others 😛

    I’m a strong proponent of dogs being under control. On leash at all times in on-leash areas… less so. I know for a fact that if my dog is off-leash in the neighbourhood, he’s going to chase a cat, or run into a stranger’s house – he’s ALWAYS on-leash in the neighbourhood (with the exception of the occasional photo-op). In the creek valley trail near me, I know that Gwynn will run around in the woods, get off the trail for cyclists, come when called, ignore/avoid all human contact other than me, and keep relatively close to me. it’s definitely not an official off-leash area. But he’s under control.

    I hope you don’t fight your hypocrisies enough to stop the cute photo ops in Calgary and elsewhere – one of my favourites of your pics is of moses balanced on a giant concrete ball, and I bet that wasn’t in a leash-free zone.

    • thatjenk says:

      Ha! No, Stephen Ave is definitely on-leash! But we’ve had police officers come by and snap photos of us, so I don’t think anyone’s complaining. I have zero plans to cancel the ridiculous photo-taking.

  9. Beagles and Bargains says:

    Amazing post! Luna loves bread too. Probably unhealthily so. We follow leash laws religiously, but that is mostly because Luna cannot be trusted with that nose of hers.

    • thatjenk says:

      Yeah, I don’t know what it is, but he just loves anything baked, from a slice of bread to a plain Timbit (donut hole, if you’re not familiar with Canadian fast food).
      It’s all about trust and good judgment, IMO.

  10. cascadiannomads says:

    Great post. I used lax about leash laws and only leash Tynan when I knew I didn’t have his full attention or it was horribly unsafe, but now I own a reactive dog. Being on the other end of the leash of a dog going crazy while the illegally off-leash dogs owner says “my dog is friendly” (just like I used to do) feels awful. That being said, all three dogs ran around illegally off-leash on our vacation last weekend and we all had a wonderful time. Isn’t being a hypocrite weird?

    • thatjenk says:

      It is! But sometimes it results in good times 🙂
      I remember the adjustment when we first adopted Alma – Moses was (still is) well-trained, but Alma was just learning the rules of civilized society, so it was back to basics for both of them. Alma has some on-leash reactivity herself, so I too am sympathetic to owners struggling with those issues, and will leash them both up when we’re in the vicinity of other on-leash dogs.

  11. In reality, I think all pet bloggers break their own rules now and then. I also go on and on about having your dog on-leash but admit to backing away for photos. I talk about restraining your pet wish some kind of seat-belt system when you drive but admit that I 1) don’t ALWAYS do it and 2) still wonder a little if your dog being a pinata when the car rolls is actually winning. I think none of us are perfect all of the time….but I guarantee that pet bloggers are more conscious of their actions than your average pet owner (I know because I was a clueless pet owner once too. Weren’t we all at some point? Most of us were anyway).

  12. Guess what my raw fed dogs get as training rewards?

    KIBBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    (grain free, of course)

  13. Funny comic and I absolutely love “Alma and Moses at the library in downtown Calgary” pictures. How else can you take it but off leash, duh!! Everyone’s a hypocrite 🙂 haha!

  14. rumpydog says:

    Congratulations! Sounds like you’re taking an important step toward being more tolerant of others, because the first step is to admit that we’re really not all that.

  15. Donna says:

    What a great post, and I can’t believe somebody called you out on it! LOL! Its so true, we are all guilty of being hypocrites at times, and a lot of what you mentioned above in the paragraph that began with you rolling your eyes sounded waaaaay too familiar….but this post actually reminded me of a funny story, so I’m going to steal some of your comment space to share…

    At one of our Vizsla Fun Days, a bunch of the dogs were running loose all over the place and a few of the attendees expressed their concern to the president of the club because their dogs were not good with free running dogs coming up to them, and so she asked everyone to put their dogs on leash….

    Next thing you know, there were fifty or so Vizslas still running amok, doing whatever they pleased, but they were ALL dragging their leashes behind them. 🙂

  16. Clowie says:

    The off-leash rules wouldn’t exist if everyone had control of their dogs and used their common sense! Ha!
    We confess to generally being more concerned when a small dog approaches than when a large one does. We tend to be pleasantly surprised if the small one is well behaved. We should have accumulated some statistics – I’m sure we could then argue how reasonable we’re being!

  17. Watson says:

    As a true centrist, I don’t think it’s hypocrisy to make different choices for different situations and different times. I can believe that a certain junk food is generally unhealthy, and avoid it in my daily diet, and still enjoy it at a special occasion with friends.

    On somewhat of a tangent, the “small dogs tend to behave worse” has been my personal experience too. You say “expecting” bad behavior; I’d say “being prepared to respond to” it. And if your experience has been that 80% of the little dogs and maybe 10% of the big dogs you pass act badly, being more prepared for it is a reasonable response. My personal belief is that because there’s just a lower threshold to owning a small dog, and fewer limitations, more people who put less time & effort into training and socializing their pets own smaller dogs than larger ones.

    Overall, just because something isn’t 100% or 0% doesn’t mean it’s hypocritical.

  18. Oh gee. I actually read this post on my phone back on the first and pretty much every day since, I’ve been “Oh, I want to go comment on that post”. It only took me 23 days. I think that maybe be a new slacker record for me.

    Here’s the thing, I put the “hippo” in hypocrisy. I have a lot of opinions on a lot of things: grains for dogs, flexi leashes, small dogs that act like wild things, big dogs that have no sense of space and control, crappy dog treats, leash laws…I could go on for hours. As bloggers, having a lot of opinions is kind of our thing or what the woof would we write about? As many rules as I have, I also have exceptions for them. No grain, unless it’s pasta night, then Kol needs a noodle. No flexileash, except when we’re in a field practising recall with the puppy. No jumping on people unsolicited, unless it’s Felix. He does what he wants.

    For me, it’s about knowing the risks of breaking the rule, having a solid idea of how your dogs are going to react and actively choosing to disregard it for good reasons. You’ve also got to own it. I once got a $250 fine for having Kolchak off leash in a park. He was sitting on a log, in his wait command and even when the by law officer walked up he sat like a statue. Was he bothering anyone? No. Was he still more under control than the German Shepherd dragging a 6 year old around on his leash? Hellz ya. Did I argue when I was handed the fine? Nope. It’s a law. I broke it. There was nothing to argue. (He did, very kindly, tell me I could finish the shoot before leashing him back up. LOL!)

  19. Pingback: Dear Dog Trainers | Back Alley Soapbox

  20. Andrea says:

    Hmm, but having vocal control of your dog is a sort of leash. When I am walking on the Orting trail, I typically see the following:

    1. Loose Dog dashing EVERYWHERE, putting his big, obnoxious nose up every other dogs butt-hole, harassing children, knocking down little old ladies, and completely ignoring the owner.

    2. The Texting-Flexi-Walker. (God I hate this person.) Person is walking along, texting, might as well not even be out there, dog spooled all the way out on the end of the 20 foot leash. Might as well be off leash. (The person who actually does this has a dog that is dog aggressive.)

    I hate both styles of walking. There is a lady who has a tame timber wolf that she takes jogging down this path every so often (on leash) and I’m far more comfortable keeping my dog around the wolf than I am a lot of the dogs.

    Now that being said, if someone was walking their dog on the Orting trail off leash but in heel, and the dog kept tightly to the owner without bothering my dogs…not only would I consider that dog “leashed” in my little world, I’d also be really impressed and probably overjoyed to see a dog actually capable of listening to a human being.

    And as for the raw feeding — I think treats are fine in moderation. “Big Honey” is fed raw but gets bread snacks, and she is now 10 years old and still active. A rather fine achievement for a great dane. I think dogs are just like people, as long as the bulk of what you eat is healthy, the snacks won’t be such a big deal.

    And as for prejudice…I have developed my Patented Three Step Measurement System to rate the threat of oncoming dogs. By the time you get to the end of the assessment its individual, all the breed is definitely a factor. Here’s my process:

    Step 1: Is it leashed?

    And by leashed I mean a “Real” leash and not a flexi. A flex is essentially off leash in my opinion. this is the most important thing to ascertain and should be figured out right away. If it is not leashed, begin evacuation immediately, because if it’s not leashed it’s not trained, and half the time it’s not nice either. If it IS leashed and not on a flexi (or the flexi is at least locked) continue to step 2.

    Step 2: Does the owner appear to know what they’re doing?

    If the leash is slack and the dog is walking quietly alongside the owner, most likely the owner knows something about dogs. If the dog notices my dog and does not instantly start Freaking Out, the threat system can be set to the lowest setting. Woohoo!

    If the leash is taught and the owner is getting dragged along senselessly, or if the owner is busy gabbing on the phone/with another person/texting or if the dog is clearly not paying attention to the owner, continue to step 3.

    Step 3: What breed is it?

    If its a breed I know to be dog aggressive, I escalate into full battle formation. (My dogs get in the stroller, I pull to the side and block the front of the stroller. I defend the stroller with force if necessary.)

    Very rarely am I wrong.

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