It’s a little ironic for me to be posting about preaching to the choir because:

  • I’m a nonbeliever
  • I grew up attending a synagogue, not a church, and synagogues don’t have choirs
  • It’s a tired cliche, and I try to avoid those

But the topic came up when Karen Friesecke, DIY queen and blogger at Doggie Stylish, suggested that Friday’s avoiding puppy mills post was preaching to the choir because no one who read my blog would ever consider buying a dog via the internet.

I’m going to let you read through the responses to that comment because this post isn’t so much about generally speaking to an audience of converts but about a specific example: The guy I talked trash about in my Sex & the Single Dog Blogger post.

The only reason I felt comfortable putting that up was that I was certain the guy never read my blog — which was part of the problem I perceived with the relationship.

I was wrong.

I got this email the other day:

It may hearten you to know that Buster and I  have just successfully completed his first session of learning how to sit.  Yea!  He’s ready (and so am I) to learn. I might add that he has picked it up almost immediately [….]  I felt badly about punching him the other day. It’s really not his fault and he loves to please.  He just hasn’t been properly taught yet. So I am committing the time to teach him at least the basics of behaving in public.

He added:

I had read your bio and some of your blogs before but was unaware you had made an example of me as an unenlightened dog owner when I looked at your site again. I am not offended by your observations….

First — wow! I wouldn’t be nearly as understanding. If someone had been even slightly negative about me in public, even anonymously, I would be furious and probably never speak to that person again.  So credit where credit is due — and extra credit for following through with dog training.

And I’ll assign blame where it belongs. You know what they say about people who assume… So I’m an ass. But one who is capable of learning too. I will never again make public what should be private, even though I’m pleased with the outcome this time — i.e., the dog training and the consciousness raising.

I would have said “Mea culpa” but that’s kind of, you know, religious.

20 thoughts on “Revisiting the choir: You never know who’ll join”

  1. That IS impressive. Go, Buster’s dad — and I hope the fun he has when he starts really communicating with Buster carries forward. I wouldn’t feel too badly about it — you presented him in as positive a light as his actions permitted, and it sounds like your observations and the subsequent pile-on were eye-opening.

  2. So, you are not religious, but it sounds as if you got yourself a convert?! Congrats! And I understand your imagined embarrassment – I would feel the same way. But this is a guilt-free zone, right? That IS so anti-religious (what religion would exist without guilt?)!

    By the way, I thought mea culpa was latin legalese!

    1. Rumor has it that, Judaism and Catholicism aside, not all religions have guilt as their defining principals. Zen Buddhism — which has many Jewish devotees for obvious reasons — is a prime example. As for “mea culpa” I will turn that over to Clare who is both a lapsed Catholic and a lapsed attorney.

  3. Edie – How strange that you should post this today. I just had an interaction with a young woman (dressed up in designer clothes – which may have been where I made an assumption too). She was at the dog park with her friend sitting at a picnic table eating lunch.

    I noticed a hound dog sitting in the fenced in little dog area – all by himself, looking stressed out to the hilt. I asked her if it was her dog and she said yes. I asked her why and she said it was to see how he would do because she had just adopted him at the humane society. I told her that he dog was showing signs of stress and she said “Yeah.” That’s it. Yeah. And then I did something I’m not proud of, I called her an idiot. I was so angry to think that someone would adopt a dog and then take him to the dog park, leave him in an enclosed area by himself and then proceed to eat lunch while sitting several feet away. The poor dog barely knew her and she left him alone to just sit and worry and stress out.

    I made a lot of judgements about her based on attitude, clothes and behavior, but perhaps if I had tried to speak with her in calm tones I could have influenced her to take the dog out of the enclosure. A missed opportunity.

    BHuster’s Dad – First, Kudos to you for wanting to learn how to work with your dog in a different way. And, thank you for writing to Edie so she could post it and educate me. Sometimes what can seem like a small thing an make an impact.

    1. Well, in this case you were right about your assumption — though even badly dressed people like me make mistakes. I forced Frankie into various stressful social bonding situations, including dog parks (though he never left my side and I didn’t leave him alone in an enclosure). I don’t know how I would have reacted if someone had told me I was doing something dumb. I’d like to think I would have asked for more information. In this case, you probably weren’t going to get more of a response out of her.

      Remember, I talked until I was blue in the face about dog ownership to Buster’s dad and got no response until I put it in writing. There’s something about the “officialness” of print that spurs people into action… So get thee to your blog!

      1. Thanks. Even after I encouraged the idea of preaching to the choir, and perhaps to those not yet in the choir, I went made the assumption she didn’t want to be. A valuable lesson for me today.

        Re: Blog? Already getting thee there! 🙂

  4. As a person who is a lapsed-everything except Archie worshiper, I can attest that “mea culpa” (short for the chant “mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa”) is indeed Catholic jargon. Ugh, my knees got flatter just thinking about it! Buster’s dad did well, and I hope he recognizes that you did well, too, to bring the various issues to light. As you’ve said before, the risk of fraternizing with a writer is that you may find yourself written about!

  5. As a lapsed Jew, I can tell you that Temple Emanuel here in Tucson does have a choir on high holidays. I went all of two times since I’ve lived in Tucson and to my surprise – yes – they had a choir.

    Kudos to Buster’s person. Maybe he’s a keeper after all?

    1. I knew there was singing but I never heard it called a choir. Turns out, you’re absolutely right. I googled it and there are several Jewish choirs, including “The Moscow Male Jewish Choir, Hasidic Capella.”

      I sit corrected. Again!

  6. OK, a couple of things …. A) Big hello to Buster’s dad and B) While our dog blogging community is most likely already up on the whole puppy mill/pet store thing, you cannot assume that other similarly well-educated, “worldly” people are. Even if they “love dogs,” they may not know.

    As an example, I have a friend, who worked as a lawyer for one of the biggest companies in the world before she became a best-selling novelist. She lived much of her life in NYC. She has traveled all over the world. And, yet, both her current pups came from pet stores.

    When she posted photos, etc. on Facebook, I privately sent her links to several articles on puppy mills, and honestly …. she … had … no … idea.

    1. I think this post may be an object lesson on assumptions we all make! It always astonishes me too when I find people very wise to the ways of the world, even environmentalists who you might think would generally know the basics of animal welfare, are missing so much information. Kinda takes my breath away sometimes. Then I have to go write something:)

  7. Well, sounds like enough egg on face to go around, but seeing things in print about yourself can be a wonderful wake up call – really happy for Buster and his caretaker that caretaker guy may have been harshly judged. When people are willing to listen or learn, admit mistakes, that’s a very good sign.

  8. When people worry about ”preaching to the choir,” they’re assuming that the only purpose of speaking passionately about an issue is to change the minds of other people. So Buster’s person saw your post and perhaps it will help in his bonding and training with his dog. Wonderful! And good luck to them both.

    But even if we never change another mind in a particular “sermon,” I think there’s benefit in proclaiming the truth. It makes us stronger and more committed. We’re not called to do the right thing only if it changes other people. We’re called to do the right thing because it’s right. And somewhere, down the road, it may lead to a shift.

    Y’know, I bet the abolitionists were accused of “preaching to the choir.” And the feminists, and pacifists, and people protesting child labor….

    Keep preaching!

  9. You sure are teaching (not preaching, just teaching) me a lot with this series of posts melding fur relationships with human relationships (I know it’s not a series yet, but you get what I mean, right?) 😉 Good stuff….

    1. Thank you! I never know what’s going to turn into a series… or into a topic, for that matter. If I’m lucky, I find something that I can feed the hungry blog gods with on an extended basis. 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *