Ask and ye shall receive. At least that’s been my experience with a lot of pet bloggers. On a recent post that included a video of hot dudes with kittens, I mentioned that a nice transition between this blog and my soon to debut one, Freud’s Butcher, would be hot butchers with puppies.

Karen Friesecke of came through with the following (not hot but cute):

The Dog and the Butcher by Jonathan Holt from Jonathan Holt on Vimeo.

I was going to leave you with just that fun video — what with trying to wind down this blog and all —ย  but something has been nagging at me for a while and wanting to thank Karen brought that to mind.

She recently posted about Lennox, the dog that was killed in Belfast because he was a pit bull, and gave a big picture perspective. I’m not here to argue about whether BSL laws or the lack of spay and neutering by owners are more responsible for the death of pit bulls; I think both are necessary and Karen made her case for spay and neuter very well. I’d like to talk about how easy it is to focus on the details and lose the forest for the trees.

This forest-losing often leads to a putrid level of discourse in the comments section of big picture posts. Karen can — and does — take care of herself, but I know what a good and generous person she is. I’ve often written about how she has sent Frankie insulin from Canada. It upsets me to see her being called names and being accused of being a bad, sad — and old! — person for being rational, and to have her credibility undermined because she used “the f-bomb” and smiley faces. I chose not to use that language on my blog for a variety of reasons, but I would have zero credibility if I got points taken off every time I cursed in real life. And although I’m not generally an emoticon fan, I have found myself using them — not to mention multiple exclamation points — in the comments section here as shorthand. Big deal.

But back to Lennox and, even further back to Patrick, the abused pit bull. I get that we need to put a face on problems like BSL and animal abuse; Lennox and Patrick are effective poster dogs for those issues. But all the time and energy and money that go into obsessing about those particular dogs could be better spent on things like volunteering at shelters, campaigning against puppy mills, helping to get stronger laws against animal abuse enacted… big picture stuff.

I’m not saying that talking about individual cases and doing something about larger problems are mutually exclusive; these egregious, very public cases often lead to legislation, some of it thoughtful and well written, some reflecting the hyperbole of the people who took up the causes (remember, BSL laws themselves are the result of blowing a problem out of proportion).

My problem is that a lot of people get too riled up about the details, the ins and outs and the nuances of the cases, to do anything useful. The emotional energy invested in those individual dogs would be far better directed towards trying to change things. And, as I started out by saying, such emotional investment can lead to the type of misdirected rancor that good people like Karen experienced by trying to be rational and to provide some perspective.

And that’s a fucking shame.

14 thoughts on “The Dog, the Butcher and the Big Picture”

  1. The video was adorable. Leave it to Karen who can find just about anything online.

    And thank you for the excellent reminder that bitter arguments online have never saved a single dog. And that they don’t do much for people either.

  2. This issue about discourse and taking the longer, wider, higher view is close to my heart as a blogger and columnist and newspaper correspondent. Many issues run a course from overlooked to over-exposed – and then to reader apathy. I recently returned from Key West where I got to indulge my childhood dream of meeting Flipper the dolphin and seeing the wild dolphin pods. I want to be an eco-warrior! now and feel empowered. So I’m also trying to sell that travel story (tips? anyone). I also learned that the coral reefs are dying beyond the point of no return and how that impacts the planet and worsening climate change in a vicious cycle. Now back in the Southwest I am thinking about how to effectively fight for stronger pollution controls at the coal-burning power plants in Northern Arizona that contribute mightily to acid rain, but, oy vey, help bring CAP water to Tucson. Stronger EPA pollution controls = higher water prices = EPA very unpopular.
    Just thinking out loud here. And now there’s frickin’ fracking in New Mexico just starting up fast and profitably. Meanwhile dogs and cats and children and elders and EVERYONE is being abused!
    So do I need to focus on one topic and find a way to make it pay? or what – yes – well thanks for listening –

    my most recent column is “Top Ten Commandments,God reveals all in free e-book today!” about the tyranny of SEO, at

    1. Me, I’m not good at multi-tasking. That’s why I’m shutting down this dog blog and putting all my energies into my family history blog. I don’t know about making money, since I’m not very good at it, but a photographer friend (Fred McDarrah, who did in fact make money) said do what you love and the money will follow. So I would suggest just going with your heart if you can figure out what you care about most.

  3. If this wasn’t an exercise in how to take a soul sucking ass kicking from complete strangers, I don’t know what is. What did I learn from this? When someone writes about an emotional issue, the folks that disagree don’t care how well researched or well presented the facts are, they just want their pound of flesh.

    Thanks for having my back, sista’! Your post means a lot to me.

    Ooops, almost forgot. Fuckity-fuck-fuck-fuck ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. Awesome video!

    The problem with individual dogs vs causes is simple. It is easier and more natural to get emotionally invested with an individual that has a name and a story than with a “faceless crowd.” However, I do believe that an individual can become a face of a cause and this can be a way for things to work out.

  5. Wonderful video and kudos to Karen. When I see dogs in danger, the responses I see of “what a pretty dog.” etc. drive me crazy. If you can’t help the dog, move on to someone you can; insipid comments do no good. There were multiple people in positions to help Lennox – we needed to support them and then move to the dogs we can help.
    I will miss this blog :(.

    1. Aw, thanks, Roberta. I’ll miss dog blogging! But I hope to see many of my old friends at my new home.

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