Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Poodle Bitch presents her new Christmas poem: The Merry Caniche de Noël

The Merry Caniche de Noël

She travels for peace and goodwill's sake,
Leaving chicken breast and tomato slices in her wake.
All good boys and girls know so well
That beloved and sweet Caniche de Noël.

One Christmas Eve night I filled up with eggnog,
And attained a warm glowing feeling, my senses agog.
I stumbled out of the pub and into the snow,
With no care for direction, for I'd nowhere to go.
There met my vision so hazy and blurry,
That Merry Caniche de Noël, in her red-fringed surry.

Said I, "What brings you to this questionable boulevard,
Where shamble human detritus who find living so hard?"
At least, I believe that is what I mumbled,
For years of hard drinking had left my head jumbled,
And cold winter wind was biting through my clothes,
So I might have said nothing, for all anyone knows.

Yet the Merry Caniche de Noël understood what I meant,
For she laughed at the earnestness behind my lament.
Then she licked at herself, and shamelessly so,
As my fingers fumbled with a bottle of two week-old bordeaux.
Offended, I shouted, "How dare you come here,
Especially now -- at this awful time of year!"

After one more long draught, my tirade resumed:
"My silly species is wrecked! We're all doomed!
Yet for one too-long night we're forced to pretend
That this one's an ally-- that that one's a friend!
And all the while he keeps hidden from view
The stiletto with which he seeks to skewer you!"

I know not from whence sprang such corny indignation;
When I'm in my cups I am prone to high sensation.
Another human might have seen it as skylarking,
Yet the Merry Caniche de Noël responded by barking.
Although her manner seemed disconcertingly aloof,
Each word that she spoke was a gentle "Woof, woof."

"Every snowflake that falls is a reflection in the air,
Of the human compassion present everywhere.
It's simply so common that most choose not to see
All of the good contained within humanity.
It is possible that you've all been led astray
By the monster you've created in this holiday

"For only a species so simple and abstruse
Would use a yearly celebration as an excuse
To create yet another commercial event
That contradicts its own original intent.
Within you all, even you who stand before me,
Resides great promise and generosity!

"So listen hard," (she concluded), "to my gentle doggerel,
And heed now the message of the Caniche de Noël."
With that, the sweet poodle was off and away,
And I heard another voice from somewhere else say,
"My friend, you've clearly had one to many,
A public street's no place for a drunk to spend a penny."

The policeman was quite rough as he took me to jail,
But I just had to laugh, despite my travail,
For the words of the Caniche still rang in my ears,
And in my fraying old pockets found I two souvenirs:
Fresh tomato slices and pieces of chicken breast
Which I ate on that night I spent as the city's guest.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Poodle Bitch is sad to note the passing of Pusuke

Yesterday, Pusuke, described in the Mail Online as a "male cross breed," passed away. Pusuke's passing is notable because the authoritative collector of human "records," the Guinness Book, last December certified him as the oldest living dog on the planet.

Here is how the Mail Online story begins:
The world's oldest living dog has died in Japan at the age of 26 - the equivalent to more than 125 human years.
Poodle Bitch wonders why it is that a canine's age must always be presented so. Are humans so unable to comprehend that 26 is an extraordinarily ripe old age for a dog that they must have it spelled out that the "human equivalent" is, well, a ripe old age for a human?

Poodle Bitch would like for everyone, human and canine alike, to finally once and for all acknowledge that human and canine bodies age differently. Canines mature faster. While human babies are still making (pardon Poodle Bitch's language) "poo" in their diapers, most dogs have already learned to patiently sit by the door and wait for a human to let them out. And very few humans ever learn that the only proper, dignified spot in which to leave one's (again, pardon Poodle Bitch's language) "poo" is outside in a nice, shady spot, far away from the structure in which one dwells.

Poodle Bitch very much appreciates this reporting on the story, at something with the cutesy-poo name "Animal Tracks," in which Pusuke's passing is noted not in human terms, but canine:
Pusuke, who was listed as the oldest living dog in Guinness World Records, died on Dec. 5, 2011 in Sakura, Japan. He reached the ripe old age of 26 years and 9 months.
Unfortunately, the story is three paragraphs in length. The first paragraph, Poodle Bitch has pasted in full above. The second paragraph consists of two sentences noting the previous record holder was an American Beagle who passed away in 2003. The third paragraph is a single sentence containing a link to a "slideshow of the biggest, fastest, longest, weirdest and wackiest record breakers from the 2012 edition of Guinness World Records."

Hardly a dignified notice of the passing of a dedicated companion of more than 26 and a half years. Especially given what Poodle Bitch learned from an article which appeared in Business Insider (Poodle Bitch wonders if Pusuke was involved in business in some way?) back in July 2011:
But Pusuke came close to losing out on the prestigious Guinness title.

In 2008, the dog was run over by a car and several of his organs were crushed during the accident.
Leaving aside for a moment the casual indifference with which this information is presented, Poodle Bitch has to admit she gasped upon reading those words. Pusuke's organs were crushed when he was run over by a car three years ago. Appropriately, a website called A Place to Love Dogs has more:
The spry elder canine still enjoys his role as guard dog, but nearly lost his shot at the Guinness record when he was struck by a car in 2008, rupturing a number of internal organs. Emergency surgery saved the 28 pound wonder dog.
Poodle Bitch concedes that's not much more, but it does tell the reader that Pusuke had surgery. Also, Poodle Bitch can't help but note that while Business Insider (the place for canine-related news?) says that Pusuke's organs were "crushed," which sounds like something humans occasionally do to the delicious tomatoes that Poodle Bitch so loves before placing them in jars, A Place to Love Dogs reveals that Pusuke's organs "ruptured," which sounds much more like a medical term.

But which was it -- were Pusuke's organs "ruptured," or "crushed"?

Poodle Bitch also notes that Ms. Nagai is described by the website as Pusuke's "owner." Perhaps they should call themselves "A Place to Own Dogs"? Regardless, A Place to Love Dogs claims that Pusuke's human companion, Shigeo Nagai, gives him vitamins twice daily, but does not share exactly what vitamins he takes. This is information Poodle Bitch might like to have.

Perhaps the vitamins twice a day lifestyle is the norm in Japan. Poodle Bitch notes that the average human life expectancy in Japan is 82.9 years, which is apparently the longest in the world. Poodle Bitch is curious as to the average life expectancy of dogs worldwide, but was only able to find canine life expectancy information broken down by breed, not nation. So she has no way of knowing for sure if Japanese dogs live longer.

Still, Poodle Bitch has long maintained that is the quality of the years, not the quantity, that most matter to her. She is happy to have found companions in whose presence she feels safe and protected, and she is happy to have gotten plenty of satisfying chicken breast and tomato slices. And a nice place outside the house in which to (one last time, Poodle Bitch apologizes for her language) poo. She hopes that Pusuke could say the same.

She hopes that all dogs can say the same.

Pusuke and his human companion, Shigeo Nagai. Two very lucky individuals.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Poodle Bitch wonders if humans have lost the ability to express true affection

Poodle Bitch has noted with no small amount of concern the rise of ironic detachment in human culture. She sees the ascendancy of post modernism and deconstruction as a way for people to avoid dealing with genuine emotion. The artists of today, those people who are supposed to shine a light upon the human condition and thereby illuminate the experiences which all human beings share, seem instead to be more interested in proving how "cool" they really are. Poodle Bitch isn't particularly interested right now in helping humans overcome this particular deficiency, but she would like to note that no less a pairing of artists than Kanye West and Jay Z agree with her. In their song Otis, they express the sentiment with both eloquence and, appropriately, irony:

"Sounds so soulful, don't you agree?" they ask, in reference to the late, great Mr. Otis Redding, who had no trouble expressing genuine tenderness. These two artists reached back into the past -- the ancient past, the 1960s -- to bring forth an example of unabashed emotional artistry. This in the midst of a song deconstructing modern hip-hop, and of a video deconstructing a Maybach.

Poodle Bitch will let you, the reader, come up with your own examples (here are a few -- posts on the television program "Up All Night," the upcoming "Muppets" film, and the "Toy Story" films -- to get you started). For right now, she wants to illustrate the cumulative deleterious effect this all-pervasive ironic detachment has had on relations between humans and animals. Last week, the gentlemen who created the Awkward Family Photos website (which is dedicated to cataloging the myriad ways in which human beings are losing the ability to express familial piety) released a new bound collection of Awkward Family Pet Photos. This book is full of images of human beings posing with the pets they purport to love. Some samples:

These are companions as props, for the aggrandizement of the humans depicted within. These images are not whimsical. There is nothing humorous about them. They represent a humanity that is losing touch with itself -- an entire species that has been capable of the greatest of emotions losing the ability to communicate those emotions. Poodle Bitch notes that none of these images is spontaneous; the humans involved carefully thought out how they wanted to be depicted alongside their canine companions, and willingly posed in the manner depicted above, while forcing their companions to join in what is in fact a dual humiliation. In the case of the alien abduction themed photo, Poodle Bitch assumes the humans scrolled through the photographer's available backdrops (or, worse, called around to see which photographers had such a backdrop) and found the one that they thought best represented them and the relationship that they have with their nonhuman companion. Poodle Bitch notes the abduction motif is in fact appropriate, although not for the reasons the humans might imagine.

These humans might actually love their inhuman companions; but they are clearly unable to express this affection without first cloaking it in some bizarre, protective veneer.

The most extreme expression of this companions-as-props attitude can be found in this alarming photo:

If Poodle Bitch were slightly more cynical, she might note that the above photo is perhaps the only honest one of the bunch. Here the humans are literally equating their companion animal -- in this case, a bird -- with a tool. A gun. Poodle Bitch wonders which item the humans in that photo find the most important?

Just as the humans depicted in the photos above seem incapable of feeling shame, Poodle Bitch notes that animals are incapable of irony. Their devotion to their human companions is as sincere as it is total, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the story of Duncan, the three year-old Boxer who rescued his human companion from a housefire, and died in the process.
[Human companion Scott] Dunn was asleep Monday night, when he woke at about three in the morning to find smoke "down to the floor" in his home.

It was Duncan, a three-year-old boxer, who woke him in time. "He was just pawing at me. I thought he was trying to go out," recalled Dunn.

Dunn says he grabbed his keys and Duncan by his collar as he attempted to leave the house to get to his car. "The minute I opened the door, it was like the house exploded," said Dunn. "The flames went from one end of the house to the other."

In the confusion Dunn didn't realize that Duncan hadn't made it out of the house.

Poodle Bitch does not have the words to express herself. She is heartbroken over the loss of the heroic, selfless Duncan. She does note that there is nothing "awkward" about the photo below:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Briefly noted with Poodle Bitch: Bret Michaels's "Pets Rock" products; PETA's chickens and sharks, and the Disney Channel's blogging dog program

Poodle Bitch does not believe in the concept of "guilty pleasures." If in fact she finds pleasure in something, that is in itself enough justification for liking it. "Guilt" is something that weak people use to establish power over everyone else. And as for fearing the judgment of others, well, if you'll pardon Poodle Bitch for saying so, She does not care what others think of her.

This is why she wears her appreciation for reality television star Bret Michaels on her metaphorical sleeve. This skeevy charmer starred for three seasons on various incarnations of the "Rock of Love" dating franchise, ostensibly looking for true love by putting a bevy of questionable women through their paces. Having them play football in the mud, for example. And dance on strippers poles.

Poodle Bitch would not turn down a tomato slice from Bret Michaels.

These programs were magical, providing as they did a rare insight into the mating rituals of humans.

Of course, Poodle Bitch was being ironic in that previous sentence. Not about the "Rock of Love" programs being magical, because without question they were, but rather about these programs providing insights into the mating rituals of humans. It actually provided insight into the lengths to which human beings will go to achieve a modicum of fame-- or perhaps Poodle Bitch should say notoriety-- on a moderately popular television program.

At the center was Mr. Michaels. While the twenty women swirling about him got smashed on Tequila and fought belligerently about who was really there "for Bret," he remained a calm mixture of bemusement mingled with fascination, with a dash of physical attraction. Poodle Bitch admits that she found Mr. Michaels to be a charismatic center around which to build such a program.

The less said about his "Life as I Know it," featuring the girlfriend that he had even as he was filming those "Rock of Love" programs, the better. (Actually, Poodle Bitch can't even remember "Life as I Know it," couldn't even remember the title of the program until she googled it.)

Anyway. Poodle Bitch is happy to note that Mr. Michaels is apparently a "pet enthusiast," and has just answered her unasked prayer by launching his own line of pet products.
“As a musician who loves animals, I’m thrilled to be collaborating with PetSmart to create the Bret Michaels Pets Rock collection,” said Michaels. “As a dedicated pet owner myself, this is a natural partnership for me, and I can’t wait to unveil the collection. I know my own pets rock, and I wanted to design a line of pet products every bit as fun and cool as they are.”

Poodle Bitch wonders why Mr. Michaels mentioned his being a "musician," yet neglected to remind us of his reality television history. In fact, Poodle Bitch enjoys him so much as a reality show character that she actually watched a few episodes of a show featuring that annoying vituperation Donald Trump, just so that she could see him. That said, she is happy that Mr. Michaels loves animals (humans are animals), but she dislikes his use of the term "pet owner." Poodle Bitch prefers to think of herself as a companion, not a piece of property. She encourages Mr. Michaels to listen to Todd Rundgren's classic song "Property" for a primer on the negative connotations of that word.

The website doesn't as yet have any product information, so Poodle Bitch is left to wonder: Will there be "Doggy Style Thongs"? Tequila and Doritos flavored treats? Stripper Pole Pussy Scratching Posts?

As much as Poodle Bitch admires and appreciates Mr. Michaels, she would prance over his brain-hemorrhoiding body for one piece of chicken breast. That is why she must admit she found the following image from the New York Times so mouthwateringly appealing:

Poodle Bitch had roughly the same reaction to that photo that Mr. Michaels must have when he enters a gynecologist's office.

The accompanying article, about the rise of chicken skin as a savory among certain "foodies," is certainly less provocative than the above image suggests. For one thing, the skin that this small group of cognoscenti is generally cooked to a "crisp," whereas Poodle Bitch notes that the New York Times's "sexy chicken" is raw. Poodle Bitch notes that the small rise in popularity of the chicken skin as a delicacy (is this just another of the New York Times's fake trends, like potbellies and recession beards?) is just another incarnation of the highbrow rehabilitation of what has been traditionally peasant food.

While Poodle Bitch found the photo exciting, a group called PeTA did not.
"When I saw it I just couldn't believe that an editor of The New York Times would find it acceptable," PETA's founder and president Ingrid Newkirk told The Atlantic Wire. "It's downright offensive, not just to people who care about animals but almost to everyone. It's a plucked, beheaded, young chicken in a young pose," she said.
"It's necrophilia. It's not amusing. It's just ghastly and sickly. It's not fitting for The New York Times."

Earlier in this post, Poodle Bitch expressed her distaste for the idea that she might be considered a piece of property, as opposed to a companion. That is because her presence in the lives of her human companions fills a much more solemn and noble purpose than could, say, a table. Poodle Bitch, as all animal companions, provides mental and emotional company that is all out of proportion to the limitations of "property." That term is as insulting to the animal in question as it is to the human expressing it.

At the other end of the spectrum: referring to a chicken as if it were human. Animals are not human. Animals do not want to be human. This is something that even humans who refer to themselves as animal lovers often lose sight of. Poodle Bitch can tell Ms. Newkirk that she was most assuredly not offended by the image of the "plucked" and "beheaded" "young chicken." She was made hungry by it.

That is an animal reaction. And, while animals are not human, humans are still very much animals. Poodle Bitch would venture to guess that Ms. Newkirk is in the minority if, in fact, her mouth did not start watering upon seeing that image.

Poodle Bitch notes that Ms. Newkirk is a humorless hypocrite who once said, "Even if animal research resulted in a cure for AIDS, we'd be against it." This does not apply to the use of IV drips to alleviate the pain of a broken wrist, apparently.
Just as I was setting out to launch my new book, Let’s Have a Dog Party!, I met a wet floor and went splat, neatly snapping the bones in my wrist. Ooh, the pain! Thank goodness for IV drips.

As this post points out, that IV drip for which Ms. Newkirk thanked "goodness" actually owes its existence to animal testing.

Furthermore, in Ms. Newkirk's essay, from which Poodle Bitch quoted above, you can read for yourself how she compares seagulls, monkeys, foxes, and chimpanzees to black humans. Poodle Bitch wonders that anyone takes this woman or her group seriously. She is nothing more than a morally retarded malefactress. And her organization has murdered thousands of companion animals since 1998.
Animal lovers worldwide now have access to more than a decade's worth of evidence showing that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) kills thousands of defenseless pets at its Virginia headquarters. Since 1998, PETA has opted to "put down" 25,840 adoptable dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens instead of finding them "forever homes."

But a photo of a "young chicken in a young pose" is simply beyond the pale, Poodle Bitch notes with dry irony.

Ms. Newkirk's objections to the "young chicken" image that appeared in the New York Times appeared in the same week in which her group PETA released an ad targeting the victim of a shark attack:
PETA is at it again. Just days after a man on a spearfishing trip survived a shark attack near the Gulf of Mexico, PETA launched a controversial campaign portraying a shark chomping a man to death with the tagline "Payback Is Hell, Go Vegan."

"With the recent shark attack in the news, we thought that it was a good time to bring this discussion up that will hopefully save lives, both human and animals," PETA Campaign Manager Ashley Byrne told The Huffington Post.

Here is the ad in question:

Most humans would find it distasteful to use the profound wounding of a man in an attempt to score political points. But then, most humans find it distasteful to put the suffering of AIDS victims below the suffering of a privileged, pampered human woman who slipped and broke her wrist while preparing to promote a book that exploits dogs. In other words, Poodle Bitch notes wearily, this is simply par for the course.

Poodle Bitch also notes that the Disney Channel, something she only watches when she is around human children (which is as infrequently as possible), has ordered a television program about, well, a dog with a blog:
Dog With A Blog centers on 15-year-old Tyler and Kayla, who have just become step-siblings but don’t get along because they’re very different: Tyler is popular, social and gets by on his looks, while Kayla is super smart, socially responsible and despises guys like Tyler. Cue Stu, the new family’s dog. He talks, blogs about his family on his social network, and, with his canine point of view, helps Tyler and Kayla navigate their new sibling status as well as the world of high school. ... Casting is underway for the kids, parents and the dog, who will be real (sans the talking and blogging part, which will most likely be CG animation).

Poodle Bitch wonders why it is that the blogging dog must be saddled with allegedly adorable children who are little more than the stock sit-com characters that populate every single Disney Channel program she has ever had to sit through (Poodle Bitch admits that she has not sat through many). She believes that a blogging dog, offering genuinely witty observations on the world in which she lives, should be more than enough to carry a television program.

Children are a crutch that writers use when they can not fall back upon cleverness.

Poodle Bitch also wonders about the necessity of CGI. Traditional, hand-drawn animation has always been good enough for her.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Poodle Bitch is happy to introduce her new little Bitch Sisters -- Frolic and Shock

Poodle Bitch has been very busy these last few weeks, helping to civilize the new little Bitch Sisters, Frolic and Shock. It has been a messy, frustrating, rewarding time, but Poodle Bitch is happy to report that she has much with which to work in this process. She begs your indulgence as she takes this opportunity to introduce them to you now.

Frolic's original domain was the very welkin itself, where she gamboled and played amongst the clouds. Her soft, fluffy white coat provided her with excellent camouflage, even as she occasionally wandered too close to the sun, burnishing her ears and back a darker tan. Alas, it was her too-playful nature that angered the gods of the sky: One day, as the messenger god raced through the clouds, Frolic gave lighthearted chase, nipping at his winged heels. The messenger god tripped over Frolic, and tumbled to earth. Angered, the gods of the sky condemned Frolic to a life on earth, where Poodle Bitch agreed to take her under her own protective if completely metaphorical wing.

Frolic is very nearly potty trained.

For one million years, Shock was the guard of the gates of the underworld. There she stood as a silent sentinel, preventing the souls of those tormented by eternal hellfire from escaping, while at the same time watching impassively as the Devil himself escorted new souls into the punishing depths. One day it came to pass that the Devil brought with him the soul of a newborn baby, and tossed him into the fiery pits. Shock, recognizing the brutal unfairness of this action, bravely leaped into action, shoving her own face into the hellfire pit. She took the baby's ear in her teeth. Sadly, the ear ripped off, and the baby continued to fall into hellfire, where it is still being punished to this day. For her part, Shock's face was burned, around her eyes and nose, a fitting tribute to her own innate nobility. She was cast out of the underworld, and now she is being taught the importance of the inhibited bite during playtime.

Poodle Bitch is looking forward to many exciting and heartfelt years with the Bitch Sisters -- perhaps, when they are up for it, Poodle Bitch will get the Bitch Sisters blogging. But first: Sit, stay, come.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Poodle Bitch is unimpressed with the new television program "Wilfred"

Tonight, while waiting for the second season premiere of one of her favorite programs, "Louie," Poodle Bitch decided to sit through the first episode of the program which immediately preceded it on FX, an abomination called "Wilfred."

This unpleasant program concerns an elfish-looking young man called Ryan who wants to kill himself. He is unsuccessful. His attractive and upbeat neighbor inexplicably entrusts this man with the care of her dog, Wilfred.

These two humans have not previously met. They have merely waved at one another, the night before. When Ryan answers the door, his eyes are ringed by dark circles, and his clothes are disheveled. He is a terrible, unattractive mess. If there are humans who are willing to trust such a human to care for their canine companions after sharing only a wave, then Poodle Bitch does not want to meet them.

Then there is Wilfred himself. He is apparently an actual dog, yet Ryan sees him as an unpleasant, irredeemably unlikable human in a dog suit. This human in a dog suit makes tired, unfunny dogs-as-human jokes about the digging up of the back yard, anxiety over whether or not the human woman who left him with Ryan will return to pick him up, and a special tennis ball. There is also the defecating in someone's shoe, the speech about particles of feces in underwear, and the passing of gas and blaming it the human.

Poodle Bitch apologizes for typing that previous sentence.

Also, Wilfred smokes marijuana. And humps the leg of a waitress. And humps a stuffed bear.

The theme of the program is that the human, Ryan, should be more animal, and less human. He should follow his instinct. Ryan's sister, the responsible one who got Ryan a job at the hospital at which she works, is portrayed as a shrill harpy. Wilfred is portrayed as a crass but lovable man in a dog costume.

There are a number of problems with this. The first is, why should anyone care about a drippy loser like Ryan? Poodle Bitch wonders why it is that quitting a job on the first day and giving up all responsibilities, especially in an era of such high unemployment, should be considered a likable character trait.

Second, and most important, dogs do not act like Wilfred. Wilfred is a man in a dog suit. Human beings have only a facile understanding of the inner workings of the average canine. Too many humans seem to think that it's funny to make jokes about the fact that some dogs are either ill-trained enough, or incontinent enough, or neglected enough, that they move their bowels in the house.

How many comedians have routines about their dogs? Wilfred is the hoariest "My dog does the funniest thing" routine that you've ever heard. There is nothing unique, original, or witty about this program. Nor is it funny. Poodle Bitch did not laugh once during this first episode.

Perhaps humans would be happier if they behaved more like dogs. Perhaps they should display more affection for one another. When their human companions return home, they should enthusiastically welcome them. When they rise every morning, they should stretch and greet the day with joy at life's possibilities. They should trust one another more (a lesson which, Poodle Bitch notes, was at the heart of the second season premiere of "Louie," which is a superior program in every way, and should not even be mentioned in the same blog post as worthless "Wilfred").

Poodle Bitch believes that for such a program to succeed it must have at least some feeling of authenticity to it. As she has already noted, the humans do things that have a hollow ring of untruth to them, and she did not care for any of them, not even a little bit. They are all either stupid, or they are ciphers.

At one point during the program, Wilfred gives a long, dull, insincere speech about his life in an animal shelter. Playing with a tennis ball, he claims, made him so irresistibly adorable that he was adopted. Poodle Bitch found herself wishing that he'd been put down, instead. Hopefully this unpleasant program will be.

Poodle Bitch wonders: Which one is more unpleasant? Actually, Poodle Bitch doesn't care.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Poodle Bitch wonders about what life was like for Nazi dogs

Poodle Bitch briefly notes the presence of an article from, via yahoo, in which it is claimed that Adolf Hitler, the former leader of Germany, attempted to create an army of superior dogs that would do his bidding for him.
In his new book Amazing Dogs: A Cabinet of Canine Curiosities, Cardiff University historian Jan Bondeson mines obscure German periodicals to reveal the Nazis' failed attempt to breed an army of educated dogs that could read, write and talk. "In the 1920s, Germany had numerous 'new animal psychologists' who believed dogs were nearly as intelligent as humans, and capable of abstract thinking and communication," he writes. "When the Nazi party took over, one might have thought they would be building concentration camps to lock these fanatics up, but instead they were actually very interested in their ideas."

Poodle Bitch isn't sure why a human who believed that "dogs were nearly as intelligent as humans" should be considered a "fanatic," but his comment has prompted Poodle Bitch to scratch Mr. Bondeson's new book off her summer reading list.

Poodle Bitch found The Sun's much less dry take on the story, in particular some specifics about a school that was set up to train the dogs, more entertaining than Time's:
Star pupil at the school near Hanover, Germany, was Aire- dale terrier Rolf. He tapped out letters of the alphabet with his paws and was said to have speculated about religion and learnt POETRY.

He reportedly asked a visiting noblewoman: "Could you wag your tail?" Another mutt was said to have uttered the words "Mein Fuhrer" when asked who Hitler was - while another imitated a human voice to bark: "Hungry! Give me cakes" in German.

Other ludicrous experiments saw so-called scientists test telepathic communications between humans and dogs.

Poodle Bitch doubts very much that Rolf was anything more than a very clever canine who found himself in a difficult situation and made the best of it in order to survive. She has found that humans who want to believe in something -- who desperately want to believe in something -- can be made to believe in that something with only the barest of outside help. Poodle Bitch cites the allegedly "guilty" dog, Denver, who recently sent the internet into a tizzy, and Sonny, the dog who could supposedly "read."

These dogs were playing along for the benefit of their human companions. Dogs like to make their human companions feel good. And, Poodle Bitch dryly notes, to get rewards. Because humans are basically good, this is a mostly harmless exercise. However, Poodle Bitch notes with sadness that there are those who, for instance, run dog fighting rings, who exploit this feature of the canine personality for nefarious ends. Then there are the so-called "drug sniffing dogs," who are wrong more than half the time about the presence of drugs, but are right 100% of the time in trying to make their human co-workers happy.

But back to the Nazis: Rolf et al had no idea that these humans were working toward malefic ends. They just wanted to make them happy; so they followed the cues they were given. The humans, in turn, were part of a dangerous, powerful movement centered around a murderously deranged man who was apparently "a well-known dog lover," (as the TIME article ludicrously puts it) and a "barking-mad pet lover" (as the Sun article absurdly puts it) and very much wanted his silly program to succeed. So there were powerful motivations all around to show some measure of success.

She feels safe in declaring that the Nazi attempt to create a race of super dogs who would help them run their concentration camps was essentially a non-starter.

Some dogs will do anything for a treat.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Poodle Bitch admires May, the young poodle bitch who fought off a vicious eagle attack

Poodle Bitch does not consider herself to be a particularly athletic dog. Certainly she enjoys the occasional gambol, and has been known to chase a squirrel or two. But she's not much of a romper, and she deeply abhors violence.

Poodle Bitch understands that she is a domestic animal, and as such, her life has been much easier than the life of an animal that must fend for him/herself in the wild. She does not judge other animals doing what they must to survive.

Poodle Bitch's own experiences with "wild" animals have been fairly limited. Aside from the aforementioned squirrels, she might on occasion chase a bird that has lit upon the ground. Otherwise, she is fairly content to let other animals go their way, just as Poodle Bitch expects to be allowed to go her own way, unmolested.

But she has often wondered what she might do in a situation in which she was confronted by a hostile, wild animal, and there was no human there to defuse the situation. Would Poodle Bitch have the intestinal wherewithal to extricate herself from, say, the talons of a vicious, hungry bird of prey?

It is for that reason that Poodle Bitch has taken what might be an obsessive interest in the story of May, a toy poodle who recently found herself in just such a situation.

May fought, and fought hard. And taught a nasty eagle that poodles are not to be trifled with.
She’s a vagabond toy poodle named May by SPCA staff after she fell out of the sky earlier this month and landed on the grounds of the Shorncliffe Nursing Home in Sechelt, B.C.

And how she came to be flying over the nursing home is explained by the deep talon marks in her back and sides, showing she was probably the unwilling passenger of a hungry eagle that had picked her up but eventually found her 18 pounds too much to hold.

May — her ribs broken and her body lacerated — was found by nursing staff on May 2 and delivered to the Sunshine Coast SPCA.

Poodle Bitch is filled with wondering admiration for this dear little bitch -- not merely because May fought her way out of the talons of a ravening beast (Poodle Bitch admits she has filled in certain holes in the story using her own imagination -- for some reason, no journalists have seen fit to interview May, and so the full story might never be known), but because May's life has apparently been that of a wayward urchin, a little vagabond bitch searching for a place to call home:
“She’s been a stray. There’s been severe neglect, and who knows how long she’s been out there,” said [BC SPCA official Lorie] Chortyk. “We estimate she’s six years old but her nails were growing into her pads and her teeth are badly decayed.”

Oh, this poor little bitch's life has apparently been harder even than that of Precious, as depicted in the novel Push.

Poodle Bitch would also like to note that the little bitch May also managed to make her way to a healing center where she might be able to receive the help she needs to recover. This healing center is a nursing home. Poodle Bitch has heard that such institutions often employ the services of Therapy Dogs, which help to raise the spirits of those humans who reside within them.

Poodle Bitch likes to think that May, the stray bitch, was on her way to the nursing home to apply for work as a Therapy Dog, when she was snatched up by the nasty eagle that attempted to murder her. Perhaps an enterprising journalist will take the time to actually ask May for the circumstances of her attack.

Although May has already received some medical treatment, the Sunshine Coast branch of the BC SPCA is soliciting donations for the $4,000 required for May's dental work (doubtless young May damaged her teeth as she used them to tear into the hard, leathery flesh of the cruel nightmare beast that attacked her -- again, Poodle Bitch embellishes). Poodle Bitch very much hopes that May's story moves humans enough to actually donate to what she considers to be a most worthy cause.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Poodle Bitch is unconcerned about "changes" to the Scrabble board game

To Poodle Bitch, most "board" games might as well be called "bored" games, although she does on occasion enjoy the camaraderie and fun engendered by some of them -- Trivial Pursuit, Beyond Balderdash, and Scrabble in particular. Games like these enable you to get a better sense of your friends' personalities by displaying their knowledge and interest in the world around them. Because Scrabble is one of her more favored games, Poodle Bitch has noted with interest that the game makers are adding 3,000 new words to its official dictionary.
The game's publishers say the additions make this the "most comprehensive Scrabble wordlist ever produced," but that's doing little to soothe some players' ruffled feathers.

"I don't like slang words at all, but if they are going to put them in we will have to use them," Jean Gallacher, of Scotland's Inverness Scrabble Club, told The Scotsman. "I think there is too much slang in the English language as it is, with the way young people are talking."

Poodle Bitch would like to point out that many words that we today take for granted as perfectly acceptable began their lives as "slang" terms that the "young people" used. In fact, she notes that very often attempts to keep "slang" terms out of wider usage were actually snobbish, veiled attempts to keep people of the "lower orders" in their place. Dictionaries are decidedly undemocratic, as they are put together by small groups of people who make decisions as to what words to include and what to leave out based on their own prejudices, and deference to what has been considered "proper" before. This mindset was put into words by Samuel Johnson in the preface to his Dictionary -- the first major dictionary and the standard dictionary from which all subsequent English dictionaries were based:
Of the laborious and mercantile part of the people, the diction is in a great measure casual and mutable; many of their terms are formed for some temporary or local convenience, and though current at certain times and places, are in others utterly unknown. This fugitive cant, which is always in a state of increase or decay, cannot be regarded as any part of the durable materials of a language, and therefore must be suffered to perish with other things unworthy of preservation.

For instance, regarding the word "shabby," which was originally defined by Dr. Johnson in his Dictionary as "mean; paltry," he wrote,

A word that has crept into conversation and low writing; but ought not to be admitted into the language.

Poodle Bitch notes with some amusement that Dr. Johnson wrote that such a low word "ought not to be admitted into the language"; not, "ought not to be admitted into my particular vocabulary."

Johnson was motivated to write his dictionary by a fear that people would be unable to read Shakespeare, or Victorian writers, because the words used in their works would fall into disuse. So his inclination was to "fix" the language so as to slow its natural progression, the change of which was often accelerated by the "fugitive cant." He wanted to emphasize what he considered to be "durable" -- for instance, words Shakespeare used -- and to marginalize that which he did not. Dr. Johnson was remarkably successful in this endeavor. Human language has evolved far less since he wrote his first Dictionary than it ever did before. As invaluable as Poodle Bitch considers Dr. Johnson's work to be, she cannot help but marvel at the venality of his motives.

Poodle Bitch wonders if it is the prevalence of this attitude that has led to the decline of interest in the dictionary as a tool of reference. These antiquated, quaint printed relics cannot keep up in an age in which, if Poodle Bitch has a question about a definition of a word, she is just as likely to check the Urban Dictionary as Merriam Webster online.

Poodle Bitch knows few children, but those she does know crack open their dictionaries solely because a teacher has specifically assigned it. And, as for Scrabble, Poodle Bitch is only a casual player, and only uses the "official" dictionary in online versions of the game.

As far as Poodle Bitch is concerned, the idea of an "official Scrabble dictionary" is as antiquated as the idea of "a dictionary." So it has added words such as "grrl" (why only two "r"'s, by the way?), "thang," "innit," and "MySpace" (there is a word that would have been relevant five years ago)? This will affect very few of us.

Poodle Bitch believes that is a good thing.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Blues-playing schnoodle has Poodle Bitch holding her ears

Poodle Bitch cannot decide if the schnoodle is half cute, or can't make up his/her mind to be cute. Naturally, Poodle Bitch admires all dogs equally, but cannot help feeling a sense of specific pride where her own breed, the mighty and noble poodle, is concerned.

Poodle Bitch is not so sure how to feel about Tucker, the piano playing schnoodle.

If in fact, as the uploader of the above video states, Tucker engages in this "piano playing" three or four times a day, Poodle Bitch is glad she does not live with him. Or, next door to him.

Then again, Poodle Bitch would not want to live with the comedic actor Ricky Gervais, either. But she does enjoy watching his antics on occasion.

So, play on, Tucker, wherever you are.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Poodle Bitch wonders if we would still love John Steinbeck today, if the critics of the time had done their jobs

John Steinbeck was a human American author who wrote several books that are famous. Poodle Bitch has only read a few of those books herself; she finds his works to be mostly pedantic and a rather unsavory mixture of sentimentality bordering on the maudlin, and romanticism of poverty ("Hooptedoodle," as Mack put it in the prologue to Sweet Thursday). Poodle Bitch believes one need look no further than the first sentence of his short novel Cannery Row to discover what she dislikes about his writing:
"Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream."

Ah, yes. Cannery Row contains multitudes. Poodle Bitch understands.

That said, Poodle Bitch does enjoy some of his works. Of Mice and Men was a fine book, and Tortilla Flat had some interesting details and genuine humor. And then, there is Travels with Charley.

Naturally, Poodle Bitch enjoys reading about a talented human writer spending time with a bright and cheerful poodle, even if that poodle is standard. Mr. Steinbeck clearly understands the bonds that exist between humans and dogs:
It is my experience that in some areas Charley is more intelligent that I am, but in others he is abysmally ignorant. He can't read, can't drive a car, and has no grasp of mathematics. But in his own field of endeavor, which he is now practicing, the slow, imperial smelling over and anointing on an area, he has no peer. Of course his horizons are limited, but how wide are mine?

And so Poodle Bitch was mildly disturbed to learn that the book Travels with Charley, which she had been given to believe was mostly nonfiction, might in fact be heavily fictionalized.
A huge commercial success from the day it hit bookstands, Travels With Charley in Search of America was touted and marketed as the true account of Steinbeck’s solo journey. It stayed on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list for a year, and its commercial and cultural tail—like those of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath—has been long and fat. For five decades Steinbeck scholars and others who should know better have not questioned the book’s honesty. But I had come to realize that the iconic American road book was not only heavily fictionalized; it was something of a fraud.

An author called Bill Steigerwald set out to follow Mr. Steinbeck's original journey with his poodle companion, and cross-checked the claims made in the final printed version against not only a map of the United States, but early drafts of the manuscript, Mr. Steinbeck's letters, and newspaper articles. The results of his research?
The more I learned about Steinbeck’s actual journey, the less it resembled the one he described.

As it turned out, Mr. Steinbeck spent more than half of his journey in the company of not only faithful Charlie, but his own wife. He also spent a great deal of his time in rather tony hotels; hardly roughing it in the wilderness. He also would have had to have traveled at fantastic speeds impossible at the time to have made all of his stops.

Mr. Steinbeck's book was originally published in 1962. In that time, readers and scholars have had ample opportunity to check Mr. Steinbeck's work, and the claims made within. Poodle Bitch wonders why it has taken this long for someone to do so.

She didn't think to do so for herself, because she assumed that experts in the field of 20th century American literature, in particular those who specialize in Mr. Steinbeck's works, would have done so. Poodle Bitch is hardly an expert on his works herself -- she doesn't have enough enthusiasm for him (as she stated above) to delve too deeply into his oeuvre.

Poodle Bitch wonders if that is the problem? The only ones who are examining with deep consideration are those who are the most enthusiastic. The fanboys, to use the modern vernacular. And those people have no interest in suggesting to the public at large that their favored author might have been less than honest in his dealings with the reader.

Then again, perhaps the scholars took it for granted that readers understood Mr. Steinbeck's "dishonesty." As Mr. Steigerwald points out,
Steinbeck dropped hints in Charley that it wasn’t a work of nonfiction. He insisted, a little defensively, that he wasn’t trying to write a travelog or do real journalism. And he pointed out more than once that his trip was subjective and uniquely his, and so was its retelling.

From what I can gather, Steinbeck didn’t fictionalize in the guise of nonfiction because he wanted to mislead readers or grind some political point. He was desperate. He had a book to make up about a failed road trip, and he had taken virtually no notes. The finely drawn characters he created in Charley are believable; it’s just not believable that he met them under anything like the conditions he describes. At crunch time, as he struggled to write Charley, his journalistic failures forced him to be a novelist again. Then his publisher, The Viking Press, marketed the book as nonfiction, and the gullible reviewers of the day—from The New York Times to The Atlantic—bought every word.

So this was a matter of marketing and of a critical establishment that acted more as cheerleaders for a work of art than as genuine, detached examiners.

Poodle Bitch will bear this in mind the next time she laments the fall of modern movie/literary/music criticism. It has always been thus. Perhaps if there had been a "Smoking Gun" website at the time of Travels With Charley's release, the book would not be remembered today. For the sake of the poodle Charley, that would be a shame.

Then again, if James Frey can have his own "fiction factory," for which he is very well compensated, perhaps even the Nobel Prize winning (in 1962 -- the year of Charley's release, Poodle Bitch notes) Mr. Steinbeck could have recovered.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Denver the guilty dog: Trained in shame, and manipulating a nation

Companion animals are popular subjects for online amusement. The humans who enjoy these "viral videos" and "funny animal pictures!" find comfort in the anthropomorphizing of the dogs, cats, and other animals with whom they live. Poodle Bitch would like to remind humans that animals are not humans.

Which brings her to the latest "viral video" sensation, "Denver the guilty dog."

"You know the routine," the human says, 1:50 into this manipulative monstrosity. Indeed, Denver does "know the routine." Make the expression. That expression that gets the reaction.

Poodle Bitch never feels guilty partaking of sustenance that the humans in her midst have left in an accessible place. If the human in this video, the one who shot the footage and then set it to the weepy background music (the one redeeming factor in the whole sordid mess is that the musicians behind the song are getting some publicity, even if Poodle Bitch herself doesn't particularly care for the song), truly hadn't wanted Denver to eat the cat treats, he would not have left them in such a place as they could be found. Poodle Bitch does not believe that Denver feels guilt, either.

The human should feel ridiculous, perhaps even stupid. But Denver? Denver ate a bag of treats. Denver should feel satisfied, and most likely does. And, perhaps, smug, at the casual way in which he both manipulates his human companion, and plays along with his fiction.

Poodle Bitch notes that just a couple of years ago, a study was done that suggested that it's humans interpretations of animals' expressions that lead them to believe their companions feel "guilt."
During the videotaped study, owners were asked to leave the room after ordering their dogs not to eat a tasty treat. While the owner was away, Horowitz gave some of the dogs this forbidden treat before asking the owners back into the room. In some trials, the owners were told that their dog had eaten the forbidden treat; in others, they were told their dog had behaved properly and left the treat alone. What the owners were told, however, often did not correlate with reality.

Whether the dogs' demeanor included elements of the "guilty look" had little to do with whether the dogs had actually eaten the forbidden treat or not.

Dogs looked most "guilty" if they were admonished by their owners for eating the treat. In fact, dogs that had been obedient and had not eaten the treat, but were scolded by their (misinformed) owners, looked more "guilty" than those that had, in fact, eaten the treat.

In the "Denver the guilty dog" video, we clearly see the human feeding Denver not treats, but cues. From these cues, Denver knows exactly what the human expects. "Why does he want me to act that way?" he probably wonders. "Who cares? I am an agreeable canine companion, and I want him to be happy. I will do it."

"You know the routine," the human says, tellingly.

Nearly 5 million views on YouTube, and a facebook page with more than 23,500 fans. Denver and his human have a routine, and now the human has made Denver complicit in the manipulation of humans all over the country.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Poodle Bitch believes humans should govern themselves

Given the current economic situations in which most humans now find themselves, Poodle Bitch doesn't blame them for wanting to vote for new political candidates who represent "change." She would be surprised, however, if humans looked outside their own species for those candidates. Humans are the most arrogant of species.

Actually, Poodle Bitch does not believe that is entirely true. She has heard bad things about dolphins.

Regardless, she was surprised to learn that a canine candidate had been elected to a position of authority, however small that authority may be, in a place called "Annandale."
Running for president [of the Hillbrook-Tall Oaks Civic Association], Ms. Beatha Lee was described as a relatively new resident, interested in neighborhood activities and the outdoors, and who had experience in Maine overseeing an estate of 26 acres.

Though unfamiliar with Lee's name, the crowd of about 50 raised their hands, assuming that the candidate was a civic-minded newcomer. These days, it's hard to get anyone to volunteer to devote the time needed to serve as an officer. The slate that Lee headed was unanimously elected. Everyone ate ice cream, watched a karate demonstration and went home.

Only weeks later did many discover that their new president was, in fact, a dog.

Ms. Lee is a Wheaten Terrier Bitch. Yes, Poodle Bitch capitalized Ms. Lee's credentials because she is both bemused and impressed by Ms. Lee's accomplishment, such as it is.

She was elected to lead a civic association composed of humans who did not even require their candidates to stand before them and present themselves for any sort of inspection whatsoever.

Poodle Bitch is reminded of the classic Alfred E. Neuman campaign slogan, "You could do worse; you always have." Poodle Bitch has no way of knowing what kind of job the previous head of the Hillbrook-Tall Oaks Civic Association did, but she doubts that Ms. Lee could do much worse. The Washington Post article doesn't mention much that is done by the Association -- there are vague references to "ice cream socials" (Poodle Bitch wonders if Annandale is still in the 1950s), grumbling about speed bumps (do they actually place the speed bumps, or grumble about where the speed bumps are placed by the city government?), "annual block parties" (do they really need to meet more than once a year?), and a (losing) "bruising zoning battle against a Montessori school."

In other words, this is a small group of people who feel like they should congregate, but will not do so without an excuse. This would seem to be borne out by the following:
[Mark] Crawford had served three consecutive terms as president and, according to association bylaws, could not run for the office again. For weeks leading up to the election, he begged, pleaded and cajoled neighbors to run for the often-thankless volunteer post. No one bit. Newer, younger families told him that they were too busy juggling work, long commutes and kids. And longtime residents ... said they'd already done their time.

Poodle Bitch wonders if perhaps this should have been a red flag to everyone involved in this civic-minded organization. Either change the bylaws (how difficult would that have been, really?) to allow Mr. Crawford (Ms. Lee's human companion, by the way) to again run for president, or dissolve the apparently unnecessary group. Sometimes it is too much to ask for humans to behave logically.

Human beings have caused their own problems. They should not attempt to rely upon canines to clean them up. Poodle Bitch says, Let them plan their own ice cream socials.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Poodle Bitch wonders about human laws

Doris Muller, and some of her canine companions. (Not pictured: Rage.)

Sometimes, Poodle Bitch is confused by human laws. Case in point: This story, about a woman called Doris Muller in a state called Illinois. Ms. Muller likes companion animals. She likes companion animals a lot.
Muller, 67, love pets. She writes often to this newspaper about her views on animal welfare.

She also is something of a soft touch. A couple of dogs (one is 17 now) came from neighbors who didn't want them anymore. Three more arrived after her daughter's marriage split up.

"They became divorce casualties," she says with a chuckle.

After an adult niece died, Muller took in her two cats. And she also rescued a rabbit no longer wanted by an acquaintance.

Poodle Bitch applauds Ms. Muller's dedication to helping animals that might otherwise be left to roam alone, or victimized by the state. So far, the story is a heartwarming one. Poodle Bitch likes to hear about such things. Unfortunately, the story of Ms. Muller and her animal companions takes a strange and frustrating turn:
Two don't get along: Rage, a 75-pound Treeing Walker Coonhound; and Rusty, a 55-pound mutt. So Miller keeps them away from each other.

Recently, though, she made a mistake: She accidentally let the pair of pooches in the same area. And they started to go after each other.

"That was stupid of me," she says. " ... That wasn't the dogs' fault."

Muller - 5-foot-3, 140 pounds - got them apart right away. So there wasn't much of a fight. She says neither sustained a puncture wound.

As for Muller, she got a sprained wrist from pulling the two apart. And Rage's teeth left a scratch on her wrist.

"It was no big deal," she says.

When Ms. Muller went to the hospital to have her scratch checked, she was told that the incident would have to be reported to local animal control. In the eyes of the law, it seems, a "scratch" is the same as a "bite." And a "bite" is a "bite," whether it's the human companion of said animal, or a complete stranger.
A county animal-control officer arrived at her home with quarantine notice for Rage, the wrist-scratching hound. After a bite, if a domestic animal has not been vaccinated for rabies, it must be kept at a vet or animal shelter for 10 days, says Lauren Malmberg, the county's animal-control director. But a pet with a rabies tag can be kept at home, then taken to a vet for inspection after 10 days.

"Basically, if it's alive it doesn't have rabies, because (with rabies) they'll die in three or four days," Malmberg says.

Muller did as directed with Rage, and her vet pronounced the dog rabies-free - as expected. That cost Muller $45.

Poodle Bitch notes that, because Ms. Muller has at least eight companion animals, she must register herself with the state, which charges her $10 per year for renewal. Presumably, this renewal process includes proof of the companion animals' updated vaccinations.

Perhaps if the "scratch" had been inflicted upon a stranger, said stranger might want to be certain that the animal's vaccinations are up to date. But the human companion of the animal should know. Poodle Bitch wonders why it is that the state was "forced" to act in this way.

Poodle Bitch wonders at the ways in which humans enforce their laws. There was absolutely no way the state could bend in its enforcement of this particular law, and yet, humans are given so much leeway in enforcing other, presumably more pressing and important laws.

Perhaps if Ms. Muller and her canine companion, Rage (and what a loaded name that is!), were more politically connected, there would have been no problem?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Poodle Bitch is unimpressed with Sonny the wonder dog

Yahoo!'s main page today featured a story in which was asked the age-old question, "Do you think a dog can read?"

To which Poodle Bitch would reply, "Of course a dog can read. How do you think dogs find the material about which to blog?"

However, after viewing the video linked from the yahoo! main page, Poodle Bitch feels confident in saying that, while she believes that dogs can read, she does not believe that this particular dog, Sonny, can read. Poodle Bitch encourages the reader to view the video for him/her-self:

Poodle Bitch will happily concede that Sonny "the wonder dog" could not be more cute, even if he were a poodle. She will also concede that Sonny has been well-trained, or is at least very eager to please. But she is unwilling to concede that Sonny can actually read.

Poodle Bitch wonders if Sonny's human companion asks her inane questions in the same order every time? She also wonders if she uses the same cards every time? Perhaps the answer is even more obvious than that -- Poodle Bitch notes that the human subtly lifts the card with the "correct" answer inscribed upon it, just as Sonny reaches out an innocent paw.

Poodle Bitch speculates that poor Sonny is likely responding to cues in his human companion's voice, and reaching out a paw as he's been trained; then he merely touches the hand that has raised slightly to meet it.

Of particular interest to Poodle Bitch is the sequence around the :35 mark, when the human companion asks Sonny, "What do you chew on?" When Sonny attempts to answer, wrongly, the card on which is inscribed that wrong answer (Poodle Bitch admits she could not read what was on that card) is pulled back as Sonny reaches toward it. Sonny then looks at something or someone off camera and then manages to select the other card, on which has been inscribed the word "Bones."

This is of particular interest because it would seem to confirm the hypothesis that the human companion is "feeding" cues to Sonny (as opposed to bones); it is also of particular interest because sophisticated humans provide their canine companions with tomato slices or chicken on which to chew.

Poodle Bitch has a message to the humans who exploit their canine companions for fleeting internet fame: If you're going to debase them in such ways, at least give them tomato slices.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Poodle Bitch wonders if the definition of "surprise" has changed since last she looked it up?

Poodle Bitch once attempted to watch "Jersey Shore," but she was unable to make it more than a few minutes into the episode. She understands the program's appeal (after all, she does on occasion watch VH1 reality shows -- or, she did, before they "evolved"); that appeal, however, is lost on her.

That said, Poodle Bitch is well aware of the exploits of many of the program's characters. How could she not be? She has internet access. She knows that one of the characters, Snooki, has written a novel.

Or, had one written for her. Or, collaborated on the writing of a novel. Apparently an author called Valerie Frankel had a hand in Snooki's debut novel, A Shore Thing:
She's Jersey-born, opinionated and not afraid to piss people off. But unlike Snooki, Valerie Frankel has read more than two books. She's also written almost a dozen, which is why she was hired to turn patented Jersey Shore-isms into a work of fiction. "A Shore Thing," released this week, follows a girl named Gia who spends the summer picking up Jucie-heads on the beaches of Jersey. Together, Frankel and Snickers have born lines like: "Yum. Johnny Hulk tasted like fresh gorilla" and "She could pour a shot of tequila down his belly and slurp it out of his navel without getting splashed in the face."

Poodle Bitch admits that the two lines quoted from the novel made her laugh out loud. Parody is not dead, and yet, look at what's being parodied.


Snooki was more than happy to appear on a program called the "Today Show," which alleges itself to be a news program, to promote the novel she either did not write, or collaborated upon, but which bears her name. She explained to the host of that show,
"I wanted to do a story about the Jersey Shore," she told Matt Lauer on Tuesday. "People probably expected my first book to be a biography or guidelines to be a guidette or something like that, and I wanted to surprise everyone with a novel."

The 23-year-old went on to say that she had collaborated with a co-writer on the project but had still written a substantial amount herself. "If you read it you know the first page that I wrote it," she explained. "It's all in my language."

The storyline revolves around two girls - based on Snooki and her MTV co-star JWoww - who spend summer on the Jersey Shore.

"It's pretty much like the show but you're reading it," she said. "So it's like 289 pages of Jersey Shore?" said Lauer. "Exactly!" replied Snooki.

So Snooki wanted to surprise everyone by not writing about herself. So she wrote about herself.

Poodle Bitch wonders if anyone is surprised by that?

Should Snooki's future Library of America volume include Valerie Frankel's name on the cover?

Poodle Bitch does not want dogs to be blamed for the no doubt imminent downfall of humanity

For better or worse, human beings are the dominant species on planet earth. Poodle Bitch believes this has a great deal to do with the will power and resourcefulness of which humans are capable. There is something within the human makeup that compels them to solve any problem, no matter how long it might take them, no matter how daunting the odds.

Also, human beings have opposable thumbs.

Nevertheless, upon reading this story, Poodle Bitch began to wonder just how much longer those opposable thumbs are going to keep human beings at the top of the species ladder.
Tufts University is throwing stressed-out students a bone: therapy dogs to play with during their final exams.

Colleges have long extended library hours and offered extra counselling [sic] around test time. Now they’re adopting quirky stress-fighting events for students, who face a tough job market in addition to finishing up the semester. From dog visits to free midnight massages to laser tag, students are getting help navigating those last days before turning in final papers and taking finals.

Poodle Bitch has heard of the use of "therapy dogs" in helping human children with life-threatening conditions, and elderly people who enjoy the nonjudgmental companionship that most dogs provide (Poodle Bitch admits that she herself can occasionally be judgmental -- she is going to be judgmental in the next sentence). However, Poodle Bitch finds it absurd that otherwise healthy college students would be so "stressed-out" as to require the services of animals that might otherwise be employed in the comfort of children who are facing actual, real-life stress situations.

She wonders why it is that colleges have taken it as part of their duty to ensure that students receive "free" (aren't they paying tuition, and aren't all of these "free" services included in the cost of said tuition?) "stress-fighting events" (oh, what a wordsmith it was who composed the original AP article!). Poodle Bitch was under the impression that colleges were supposed to prepare human beings for the real world. Just to be sure, Poodle Bitch went to Tufts' website where she found, amidst a great deal of flowery academic purple prose and incoherence, the following "Teaching Philosophy":
Tufts is a world-class research institution with an abiding commitment to excellence in teaching and learning. What happens in the classroom is the essence of the Tufts experience–active dialogue, engaging coursework that extends into the field and around the world and opportunities to think outside the textbook and ask the big questions that really matter.

How can an academic institution on the one hand encourage its students to "ask the big questions that really matter," and then on the other hand tell its students that facing the blank page of a Blue Book creates stress akin to that experienced by a small child facing a debilitating disease?

Surely those "big questions that really matter" are more stressful than a mere exam?

That said, Poodle Bitch does note that Tufts's teaching philosophy does not mention that the students might be asked to come up with answers to or solutions for those "big questions that really matter." Apparently, to Tufts, the asking of the questions is enough. Once a student has asked one of those "big questions," s/he can then spend a few hours seeking comfort in the nonjudgmental paws of an exploited therapy dog, who no doubt believes that said college student is facing some horrible disease.

Poodle Bitch is an optimist, yet there are times when she wonders just how much longer human beings are going to need their opposable thumbs.

Poodle Bitch wonders if the young Tufts University RA shouldn't be more ashamed of himself?