Monthly Archives: July 2016

Overzealous Dog-Lovers of the Internet, Please Chill Out!

Prince George offered his dog a lick of ice cream. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) responded, “It is lovely that Prince George is trying to help keep his family dog, Lupo, cool in these high temperatures. We would advise people to be cautious when giving their dogs food meant for human consumption as some items, like chocolate, can be highly toxic to dogs and dairy items can be difficult for them to digest.”

The RSPCA is absolutely right that  some human foods can cause issues for dogs. Some dogs have issues digesting lactose and chocolate can be fatal to dogs.

Here’s the catch: dogs have been licking ice cream cones from kids since ice cream was invented (roughly sometime around the 15th or 16th centuries).  A lick or two of ice cream won’t hurt a dog. Also, the ice cream on the little prince’s cone was white, so we can safely say it wasn’t chocolate ice cream (I know, you’re going to say, but it could’ve been white chocolate)! Go away– white chocolate isn’t really chocolate. You can go here for a chocolate toxicity meter.

However, even if it had been chocolate ice cream, it would still very likely be okay. Let’s be realistic, only the most premium of chocolate ice cream brands contain any significant amount of cocoa (read the ingredients), and dark chocolate or baking chocolate is much more dangerous than milk chocolate.

So, let’s chill out on that issue (ice cream pun intended).

The bigger issue is that there are just too many people on the Internet who feel compelled to say something when someone posts a cute photo or video with a dog. By all means, if a dog is photographed in genuine peril or deplorable conditions — say something! But many people have gone over the edge. Let’s just get back to enjoying our dogs and letting them indulge in the simple (but not always 100% healthy) pleasures of life…in moderation, of course.

That goes across the board. If you see a dog in a car on a cool day in shade with the windows cracked, don’t break the window, post the poor abused dog on Youtube, and pat yourself on the shoulder as being a hero. Literally, I had a friend who left her dog in a car on a rainy, cold day while she went into the store and came out to find an officer berating her for doing so because her windows weren’t open.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t intervene to help a dog in genuine distress in a warm vehicle–please do so in the way safest for yourself and the dog. Too many idiot dog owners do leave their dogs in hot vehicles, in dangerous conditions.

When we incorporate dogs into our lives by taking them along for errands when weather permits or giving them licks off our ice cream cones, we benefit them through these social interactions. A hundred years or so ago, dogs were often seen accompanying family members, trotting alongside horses or riding in carriages. These were never the safest activities for dogs. They could get kicked by horses, be enticed to jump out of a carriage and injure themselves, or get banged around during the bumpy ride.

Despite these risks, the dogs were often better socialized and definitely more acclimated to other animals, horses, people, and noises.

By keeping our dogs isolated and protected, by never letting them lick that ice cream or go with us on errands, by only taking them around the block during their daily leashed walk or, more rarely, to a park, we’re not doing them any favors. Is it any wonder why so many dogs have behavior problems and socialization issues?

Get out there with your dogs. Be sensible and be safe….just don’t try to to be so safe you end up actually diminishing your dog’s quality of life.

And to those on the Internet like the RSPCA who feel the need to warn about simple, normal interactions between kids and dogs….relax.

I mean, I could make all kinds of comments about the photo — the dog isn’t wearing a leash or collar (apparently), the toddler is too close to the dog’s face and isn’t wearing shoes (he could step on something, even a bee)! There isn’t even any visible water for the dog, and it’s summer! Okay, so it’s England (come to Sacramento for actual heat!) and Prince George and his companion are likely in their own private, fenced estate. They probably even have groundskeepers that get rid of anything even remotely dangerous, bees included, and maybe the water bowl is just outside the camera’s view. Unfortunately, I know none of this from the photo, and gosh darnit, what irresponsible people!

Really, though, I think it’s just a cute photo, and I wonder how little George’s hair stays so perfect and how the photographer managed to photograph that very black dog so perfectly, especially next to his fair skinned companion and that dolop of white ice cream!