Friday, June 25, 2010

Poodle Bitch Wonders Why the Phrase "Crazed Sex Poodle" Would Be Considered an Insult

Poodle Bitch has led a relatively sheltered life. She has had most of her needs taken care of (she could stand to have more tomato slices now and again, and she sometimes wonders why it is the humans won't go to McDonald's more often for those chicken sandwiches she likes to much -- they are only $1 apiece, after all) and she has only a few times been attacked by another creature.

Most of these attacks, Poodle Bitch will admit, were from small human children attempting to pet her. Poodle Bitch does not like to be petted, most of the time. She prefers proximity to actual touching.

The one time she ever felt truly threatened, when a boorish "great" dane bit her on the bottom and lifted her bodily into the air, Poodle Bitch squealed, growled, called the creature a filthy name, and she was released.

Poodle Bitch was thinking of her rather harrowing encounter when she read of a massage therapist's claim that former vice president Al Gore had attacked her.
In her detailed Jan. 8, 2009, statement to a Portland sexual assault investigator, the woman said she was called to the hotel about 10:30 p.m. Oct. 24, 2006, to provide a massage for Gore, who was registered under the name "Mr. Stone." Once inside his ninth-floor suite, she said he pushed her hand to his groin, fondled her buttocks and breasts, tongue-kissed her and threw her down on the bed as she tried to thwart his advances.

Poodle Bitch wonders if Mr. Gore's full nom de hotel is "Dick Stone". Otherwise she will not make light of this situation. Anyone who has been attacked knows that it is an unnerving and difficult experience. We also know that politicians attack human women on occasion.

Poodle Bitch has no idea if Mr. Stone is guilty of the crime of which he has been accused, she hastens to add.
Portland police spokeswoman Detective Mary Wheat said police didn't go to the hotel or talk to the woman's friends because it wouldn't help prove or disprove the woman's allegations.

"We're not disputing Al Gore was in the hotel room with this woman," Wheat said. "The two people in that room were Mr. Gore and this woman. If a bellhop came in and saw something, that would be different."

Poodle Bitch now has to wonder if this is standard operating procedure in any case of an alleged attack on a human woman. Do police not investigate when a human woman claims to be a victim of unwanted fondling and throwing upon a bed?

Poodle Bitch wonders, since the police do not dispute that Mr. Stone, who was apparently Mr. Gore, was in the room with the massage therapist, did any of them talk to Mr. Gore about the allegations?

From her own experience dealing with "law enforcement authorities" after her attack at the maw of the "great" dane, Poodle Bitch can tell you that they can often be unresponsive and disbelieving.

In other words, although Poodle Bitch has already hastened to add that she has no way of knowing what happened in that hotel room, Poodle Bitch's sympathies were with the human woman.
That's when, she says, Gore wrapped her in an "inescapable embrace" and fondled her back, buttocks and breasts as she was trying to break down her massage table.

She called him a "crazed sex poodle" and tried to distract him, pointing out a box of Moonstruck chocolates on a nearby table. He went for the chocolates and then offered her some, cornering her, fondling her and shoving his tongue in her mouth to french kiss as he pressed against her.

Poodle Bitch likes the turn of phrase "inescapable embrace," she might use it in a poem. What she does not like is the phrase "crazed sex poodle."

Poodle Bitch wonders if this is intended to be an insult?

She understands that, during an attack (and if such an attack occurred), the victim often responds not with cold logic but with uncontrollable emotions. You don't have time to think, merely to react. As the massage therapist says later in her statement, "I was distressed, shocked and terrified."

"Crazed sex poodle"?

Not a poodle.

Poodle Bitch cannot understand why the human massage therapist came up with that. To her knowledge, poodles are not known for their particular sexual proclivities. They are certainly not golden retrievers (yes, "crazed sex golden retriever" would have been a much more appropriate insult). Poodles are known for their intellect.

Perhaps the woman was praising Mr. Gore's intelligence, while at the same time chastising him for the sexual assault?

Poodle Bitch finds this difficult to believe given the rest of that sentence: "and tried to distract him, pointing out a box of Moonstruck chocolates on a nearby table." She believed (and if her statement is to be believed, rightly so) that Mr. Gore could be distracted from committing sexual assault by chocolates.

Does that sound like a smart man -- a man with the intellect of a poodle -- to you?

Poodle Bitch also notes that the massage therapist's statement contains at least two examples of product placement (Grand Marnier, Moonstruck chocolates). Then, there was the mention of the singer Pink.
Later, she said, he tried to lure her into the bedroom to hear pop star Pink's "Dear Mr. President" on his iPod dock. She said Gore sat on one end of the bed and motioned for her to join him.

Poodle Bitch could be acerbic here and state that this is further proof that Mr. Gore is no poodle. Anyone with taste and intelligence would not like Pink, and certainly wouldn't use her music as a lure for anything other than, perhaps, "great" danes.

But Poodle Bitch is not acerbic.

She does not know what to think about the entire episode. She did find something especially sad in the woman's statement, however:
The therapist later told detectives she did not call the police because she was afraid she wouldn't be believed. "I deeply feared being made into a public spectacle and my work reputation being destroyed," she said.

As it was, she said, even friends of hers who had voted for Gore didn't necessarily support her. She did call the Portland Women's Crisis Line, which encouraged her to call police.

Poodle Bitch has nothing particular to say about the accuser being made a public spectacle. She understands that there are false accusations of sexual assault made against human men on a troublingly regular basis.

What bothers Poodle Bitch is that the massage therapist's friends didn't support her. Poodle Bitch (who admits once again that she has had a relatively sheltered life) had come to believe that that was what friends were for. Support.

One needs support from friends, because those who don't know you in the media can and will attack you in such a case. As the website Jezebel points out,
We're all for the benefit of the doubt, and no doubt about it, the new allegations against Al Gore are weird. But when you see blame-gaming reactions, is it any wonder why so many victims don't want to come forward?

Jezebel notes that tired novelist and boring npr host Kurt Andersen has already taken to attacking the accuser in a particularly heartless way. At twitter, no less, he offered the following wisdom:
You professionally rub naked flesh & call the *cops* about an untoward request? Then clam up--but call the cops again 2 years later? Cuckoo.

Poodle Bitch did not realize that massage therapists were sex workers who were expected to provide "happy endings" to all their clients. She also didn't realize that there was generally a time table for claims of sexual assault ("untoward request"), and that waiting too long to report such a crime was considered by humans to be "cuckoo." Or, as the author at Jezebel puts it:
This is, of course, the appropriate reaction: out of hand dismissal, besmirching of accuser's character and a scramble for reasons to not believe that a man whose environmental policy you admire is capable of such actions.

Poodle Bitch cannot stress this enough: She has no way of knowing what happened in that hotel room. She knows that famous and even non-famous human men can and have been wrongly accused of sexual assault, and those allegations can devastate their lives. But she wonders why it should be that for some people, the first response is to attack the accuser before all, or indeed any, facts are in.

And, poodles are not sex-crazed.

Al Gore photo source.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Poodle Bitch Enjoyed "Extreme Poodles"

Poodle Bitch has heard of the phenomenon of dog beauty pageants, but she is not so interested in showing off for others as to actually want to participate. Then again, Poodle Bitch was not raised by humans who chose to show their affection for her by fussing overmuch on her grooming. They show their affection in other ways, that are very well suited to Poodle Bitch’s temperament.

Yet Poodle Bitch does not begrudge the fact that some humans show their affection to their poodle companions in ways that might seem unduly superficial, if not perhaps a bit disturbing. After all, there is a series entitled “Toddlers & Tiaras” in which parents are shown giving attention to their human offspring by participating in human beauty pageants.

Do you know why the children like those pageants? It is because, Poodle Bitch speculates (she is no expert on human relations nor does she care to become one), the children in question are getting attention from their human parents.

Poodle Bitch probably does not need to explain to the reader, who is probably human, that a little attention is all anyone wants. She is happy for those children who are getting some attention, whatever it might be.

The same is true of dogs. They want attention from their human companions. Some of us, like Poodle Bitch, require only an occasional rub of the belly followed (hopefully) by a tomato slice or two. Others require more, shall we say, active attention. These dogs love the feel of human hands upon them. What those hands are doing is largely immaterial – as long as they don’t belong to a veterinarian the dogs are happy.

Which brings Poodle Bitch to last night’s TLC special, “Extreme Poodles.” This program featured a look at the world of competitive poodle grooming. Despite the fact that Poodle Bitch is hardly “extreme,” and does not generally submit herself to excessively fussy grooming, she was much interested in finding out all about what others of her breed were up to.

The program featured contestants in something called the Barkleigh Poodle Pageant, which sounds a bit dear to Poodle Bitch’s ear (do you get it? because dog’s bark), where groomers present poodles groomed with “color, glamour, glitz, and style.” This according to Kathy Rose, the pageant’s director. Poodle Bitch cannot fault her enthusiasm for the breed; Poodle Bitch shares that enthusiasm. What she can fault is the paltry prize offered to the winning groomer. A mere $5,000 and a cover for a magazine called “Groomer to Groomer”? Poodle Bitch would have expected more for the person deemed to have created the best poodle style.

Then again, after having seen some of the cuts given the poodles in the special, Poodle Bitch wonders if the prizes might have been too great? For while Poodle Bitch appreciates that the groomers and human companions to the dogs are showing them affection by giving them such elaborate hair cuts, that does not mean she cannot find aesthetically displeasing some of the styles.

Or, if she prefers, all of the styles.

Take for instance Nina, whose poodle Jecht is to be dressed as a roller derby girl. When we’re introduced to this endearing couple, Jecht drinks from the toilet while Nina explains that she got rid of her human husband because he didn’t like dogs. Poodle Bitch thinks there might have been something more to the story than that, but she has no proof so she won’t bring it up. Nina then shows off what she calls her “chastity belt trick,” which involves Jecht putting his head between her legs and mimicking a fearsome growl.

If Nina’s ex-husband bothered to watch this program, did he count his blessings?

Jecht loves being a roller derby girl, Nina tells us. She dresses him in a skirt and stockings and declares that “he’s metrosexual.” Poodle Bitch can assure Nina that her dog is not metrosexual – he is just happy to get attention from you. And if dressing your dog up as a human girl and telling him, “I always wanted a girl dog” is how you choose to display that affection, well, he will take it.

But Poodle Bitch feels compelled to offer the following: If you always wanted a girl dog, why not get a girl dog?

Then there is Angela and Josh. Angela has won more creative grooming titles than anyone else, she tells us, and was first in last year’s Barkleigh competition. She has her own grooming business and says that “People actually have to tell me not to put color on their dogs,” as if she is proud.

Poodle Bitch would think that it just makes good business sense to ask people if they want their dogs’ hair colored. To assume such a thing seems a bit ludicrous.

But no less ludicrous than her grooming theme which is either “Buffalo” or “Cherokee Heritage,” depending on who you ask. Her companion Josh is groomed as a buffalo at the head, and with the face and headdress at one of the rear legs. Apparently, Angela is part Cherokee, so she is celebrating her own heritage which Poodle Bitch supposes makes the whole idea less offensive.

Poodle Bitch offers no comment on that. Humans are alternately too sensitive about such matters, and then too easily offended. She cannot keep track.

In addition to the actual groom of the dog, there is a presentation period, in which the groomers display the dog in a tableau meant to illustrate the theme of the groom. For Angela’s part, she has conscripted her father and nephew into wearing Cherokee headdresses and bird costumes to stand and prance around the dog, while Angela herself beats a drum (Poodle Bitch is unsure if the proper term for such a drum is “tomtom”).

Next the viewer is introduced to Sandy and Odin. Sandy is a decorated poodle groomer (who created the rather famous “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” cut) who has a farm with horses, chickens, and, disturbingly, snakes.

But what she really wants is a camel. This despite the fact that she has poodles, and those poodles she describes as “her children.” Because she wants a camel, she will turn her beloved Odin into a camel. During the competition we see just how Sandy creates the “hump,” and this might have been the most disturbing part of the entire program:

She gathers up the scissored hair from the floor and puts it on Odin’s back, using Elmer’s glue and hair spray. Poodle Bitch had to suppress her gag reflex upon seeing that.

The gluing of the old hair was even more disturbing than the use of small human children in her presentation, which included belly dancing around the “camel.” Sandy, who has been belly dancing for about three years, had wanted to use her snakes in her dance, but she decided against that as many humans are made uneasy by snakes. Poodle Bitch can tell you that the same can be said of many dogs, as well. She appreciates Sandy’s discretion.

The next groomer the program followed was Lori, and her poodle Falcor. Lori has a grooming shop called “Doggie Styles,” which Poodle Bitch has to admit she finds an amusing name for a grooomer. What she did not find particularly amusing was the fact that Lori employed the services of a reikei practitioner upon Falcor.

Again, Poodle Bitch admits that Falcor probably appreciated the attention, but her skeptical hackles rose when she saw the groomer spending money on such pseudoscience.

Anyway, her theme is African safari; Falcor’s head is to be done with a lion’s mane, his left hind leg with a giraffe head, and the right hind leg a zebra head. Lori forces her assistant to do the bulk of the dancing that was part of the presentation, while she, Lori, put on her bottom a set of baboon-style rubber buttocks she turned toward the audience and shook.

Lori’s husband, when asked for three words to describe the grooming competition, says, “Ridiculous, lunacy, and ridiculous.”

Compounding the lunacy was the fact that it was Lori and Falcor that actually won the competition. Poodle Bitch is no expert on the taste of humans, and the special was carefully cut so as to prevent the viewer getting a full look at the other dogs in the competition, but she believed that the second place finisher, despite its hippie theme, was quite good. Poodle Bitch also appreciated the alien invasion/SF themed presentation.

Extreme Poodles did not present poodles or their human companions in the best possible light, but Poodle Bitch appreciated that the program appeared at all. The worst one can say about the humans depicted is that they truly feel affection toward their poodle companions. That is very good indeed, especially given the way humans are depicted on other reality television programs.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Poodle Bitch Thought that the Dog Whisperer was Gay

Poodle Bitch is surprised. She is only a sometime viewer of the National Geographic program "The Dog Whisperer" (it is exploitive and manipulative, but Poodle Bitch does have a bit of a taste for such things), but if she'd been asked, she would have told the asker that surely the host, Cesar Millan, was gay.

Not that Poodle Bitch particularly cares. There is little she finds more tedious than the private lives of dog "trainers." Most people get into that business because they lack the faculties to deal with their own kind and, arrogantly, believe they can manipulate other species. But the idea that Mr. Millan was gay was the only thing that Poodle Bitch found even remotely interesting about him.

So, as previously stated, Poodle Bitch was surprised to learn that Mr. Millan, the Dog Whisperer, was married, and had been married for sixteen years. She is also surprised, and she must admit a bit saddened, to learn that Mr. Millan and his wife are separating, according to a statement on his blog.
A Personal Message from Cesar and Ilusion Millan

We are sad to announce that after 16 years of marriage we have decided to file for divorce. The decision was made after much consideration and time. We remain caring friends, and are fully committed to the co-parenting of our two boys.

Now, whenever he attempts to use his TSST! on any dogs, they will not take him seriously. "You want me to stop chewing up the carpet?" they will say. "You couldn't even keep your marriage together!" Mr. Millan has lost all credibility in the dog community, Poodle Bitch can assure him.

He had best move on to another reality show. Prior to this revelation, Poodle Bitch would have suggested he appear on RuPaul's Drag Race, but, as she's already stated, she was surprised to discover that Mr. Millan was not gay.

Of course, the reader is probably noting in his/her mind that there was a recent high-profile coming out, when Fran Drescher, the nails-on-a-chalkboard-voiced star of "The Nanny" television show, revealed that her ex-husband was gay. It is not unprecedented for a human man to feel he must live a lie in order to fit in.

Poodle Bitch doesn't wish to make light of the situation, but she wonders what man wouldn't pretend to be straight, to be close to Ms. Drescher?

To be serious: Poodle Bitch finds the idea particularly troubling, that some humans feel they cannot be open and honest about themselves. Very few dogs she has ever met have had this problem. Dogs are open and honest with each other about everything. Dogs sniff at one another's buttocks.

The reader might also note that Mr. Millan's wife is apparently named "Ilusion." Perhaps the woman was not real at all. Oh, wait, Poodle Bitch has found a photograph of the two of them together.

So the Ilusion is real. Poodle Bitch finds it amusing that a dog "trainer" married a woman with a name that sounds, to her admittedly jaundiced ear, like that which a dog's whimsical human companion might bestow on her.

"Ilusion! Stay! Ilusion! TSST!"

Poodle Bitch apologizes for her tasteless joke at the expense of two people who might actually be hurting. But, as she's already suggested, she has little respect for dog "trainers."

All of this comes on the heels of learning that some humans believe that animal companions can improve your human relationships.
We hardly need to look at the research to verify that pets do good things for people physically and emotionally. What is interesting in my work with couples is that although couples may vehemently disagree on most topics, they usually both soften in manner and tone to agree that the dog, cat, bird or horse is great.

In fact, if there is any criticism, it is the verbalized wish to receive the kind of love and attention the pet is getting.

“I only wish she was as affectionate with me as with our dog!”

“You should hear him speak to this animal – he never speaks to me that way.”

The people who would say such things are sad to Poodle Bitch. Trust Poodle Bitch: if humans and animals shared a common language, their relationships would be just as complicated and troubling as relationships that humans have with one another. Humans have been manipulated by "their pets," and the generations of breeding those "pets," into believing that animals love them. Most are just relying upon you for food and shelter.

They are conflating love and need. An inability to fully communicate serves as a protective barrier for the humans. It is helpful for dogs as well. Some of us would have to pretend we were something we weren't in order to please you.

Or, do you want to start sniffing your dog companions' buttocks?

Cesar and Ilusion Millan photograph source.