Wagging the Administrative Tail

Recently the Town of Wolfville posted a multiple choice survey form. Why is it that multiple choice survey forms never include an option that represents my point of view? In lieu of filing a form, the following is my small contribution.


Let's face it, I'm any dogs fool. The little guy in the photograph has me wrapped around his paw. I call him Sam, he calls me Sucker. Look at his Town of Wolfville dog-tag, ain't that cute? *

My old mutt, Kip, was also a Labrador. He died just before I left Australia for Wolfville. Kip was a Labrador trained at the Sanderson School of Civil Disobedience. A party animal to be sure. All the neighbours knew him. He was an informal guest at many of their BBQ's --- even if I was not. Strangers would greet me with:
"Hello, you must be Kips Dad?"
"My Kids play with your dog".
Kip had a good life. Full of get-up-and-go, he was off chasing Wallabies the evening before he died.

The Dogs of Wolfville

Mostly Wolfville is known for the Women of Wolfville and the Wowsers of Wolfville. But I'm more interested in the Dogs of Wolfville.

I was a little hesitant about getting another dog when I arrived in Wolfville. All the Wolfville dogs I met were just such goody-two-shoes. They seemed positively repressed. Apparently the Town of Wolfville bylaws are so oppressive that we are told that they cannot be published on the web. Truly, if we knew what they were, we'd probably find Wolfville bylaws aren't that much different from other places --- but here people, and dogs, are actually cowed! Vagabond social-facilitators, like Kip, are obviously not a welcome part of this community. Indeed, I was not at all sure that I could find a niche in Wolfville for myself.

Wolfvillian dogs, and their owners, seemed to have lost their connection to the wild. There was no natural "wolfiness" in Wolfville. It puzzled me --- how could a place called "Wolfville" have become so severely civilized? Then I found out that Wolfville had nothing to do with wolves. Apparently Wolfville is really "Mud Creek", or at least it was until they renamed it after the "De Wolfe" family. Or did Mud Creek become Wolfville when the Mayor did away with the local boat ramp? I'd been fed images of Wolfville when it was festooned with great sailing vessels and had a gutsy a real-life connection to the ocean. All that is left are a few faded photo's and the plasticized "Mud-Creek-Days".

Doggy meets Wolfville Council

Anyway, more than a year passed and I hadn't been invited to leave town. Throwing good judgment (and much money) to the wind, I bought another Labrador. My wife enrolled Sam and me in a puppy training program. Sam was a star. I was an abject failure.

This should not have surprised anyone. You see, I never really "trained" my old dog. I did leave Kip with friends for a couple of weeks. They were real dog experts. When I returned, they demonstrated all the things Kip had learned. Then it was my turn to "put the dog through his paces". What a joke. It was decreed that I was "untrainable".

Look, the truth of the matter is that there are only two things that bug me:

It's not my style to train either dogs or people to conform to the dictates of bossy-britches.

I swallowed a lobotomy pill and wandered down to the Council Building to register my dog. Now the receptionist was a very nice lady and seemed delighted to exchange a fist-full-of-loot for a Town of Wolfville dog tag.
"Here's the number of his micro-chip", said I.
"Oh, we don't record that", said she.
Perplexed, my pup and I began our new relationship with the fair Town of Wolfville.

A Hanging in Wolfville

From an engineering perspective, these Wolfville dog tags are unremarkable. They have an S-shaped steel hook that can be squeezed with a pair of pliers to fasten to the dogs collar. Other features are a funny shape and some strange phone number. I got my phone number engraved onto the tag for good measure. A few weeks later, my eagle-eyed missus spotted the pup in a peculiar pose. The Town of Wolfville was hanging my dog with its doggone crazy dog tag! Obviously, that tag was better suited as an ornament for the mantlepiece.

A Vagabond in Wolfville

One weekend, a nice lady from up the road wandered by with a strange dog in tow. Apparently, the dog was lost. Ah look, it has a Town of Wolfville dog tag! Let's try that number and see if they can put us in touch with the owner.

No such luck. We got some dispatcher for the Police on the line. It all got rather confused. You see, my French was about as good as the dispatchers English. (OK, to be fair, my Australian.) After much confusion, I left others to deal with the phone-mess. I went to plan-B.

They say dogs are at the intellectual level of a two year old child. Two year old children do get lost but only a dog of Wolfvillian wimpyness ever really gets lost. So, I put the dog on a long rope and let him take the lead. Sure enough, he went straight home through the roughest bush he could find --- with me stumbling along in the rear.

Upon my return, I figured I'd better let the Police know that all was resolved. After an hour of telephone ping-pong, it was.

The moral of this story, don't expect that dog tag to do anything but cause trouble. The truth of the matter is that a wandering dog hardly ever needs your help. The only reason I stepped in to take action was for fear that the dog might get into the clutches of some punitive busybody --- let me explain.

A Traumatized Vagabond in Wolfville

I visit another dogs place, from time to time. He's a dear little fellow but has a few little "issues". The other day he even nipped me because he couldn't stand to see me go back home. Now, it's not his fault. He has been traumatized. Perhaps it was that time when he got dog-napped by Animal Control?

You see, he was out-and-about and he didn't have a Wofville dog tag. So the Animal Control people locked him up in doggy-prison. Apparently, his dear old dad had to pay hundreds of dollars to get him back! All this regardless of the fact that my dear little doggy friend was micro chipped. Why on earth didn't they just wave the wand over him and return him immediately to his owner? That's what they do in Australia.

So the moral of the story is: If you have a dog tag, you're screwed. If you don't have a dog tag, you're totally buggered.

Obviously, in Wolfville, Animal Control is all about punishment and nothing about help. Now, if I disappear, you will know what has happened to me. The Wolfvillian Animal Control Freaks will have dragged me off to their torture chambers and done me in. I'll never talk!

A Vagabond Visits the Vet

Sam went for a wander shortly after we took the Town-Of-Wolfville dog-hanging-device off his collar. After a quick trip around the block, I figured he'd been dog-napped. Sure enough, I found him imprisoned down at the Animal Hospital. Boy, was Sam glad to see me.

Of course, this was Sam's regular Vet so at least he was on familiar territory. Regardless of the thousand or so bucks that I'd dropped at the Vet in the previous few months, they were pretty hesitant about giving me my dog back. Everyone could see that this was my dog. It seems that Animal Control was on their way --- to collect $200!

I explained why Sam wasn't wearing his dog tag.
"Why call Animal Control?", I asked. "Why didn't you just scan his micro-chip?"
"We don't do that", they said.
"Why not?", I asked.
"Because Council regulations say we have to call Animal Control", was the reply.

Now my body language is not exactly hard to read. I got my dog back and Animal Control did not collect $200.

The moral of the story: Council seeks to intimidate, not to serve. The Vet is too nice a guy to straighten Council out. I'm not.

A Proposal

I picked up a new dog tag when I registered Sam for his second year in the service of Wolfville. Sam is a big strong fellow now, so there is little worry that he'll get hung up by his tag. I put it on his collar being sure to squeeze the metal clasp tightly with my pliers.

A few more months have come and gone. I've heard a bunch more doggy tales. They all point to the foolishness of all things Council.

I just wandered down to the kitchen for a coffee break. There was Sam, resplendent with bright-blue collar. My hard-working wife had just finished washing it.
"But where is his tag?", I asked.
"He must have ripped it off somehow."

Time to straighten out a few things --- beyond TOW clasps.

Sanderson School of Doggy Disobedience

The dog-person relationship has been around a long time. It's a natural relationship born of three fundamental facts: So, my training philosophy is simple. Be good to your dog. Play with him. Cuddle him. Be patient with him. (One of the most important lessons you can learn from a dog, or child, is how to enjoy shit.) Dogs, and children, will do everything they can to please you. All you have to do is show them what is pleasing. What else would you need?

Look, there are no doggy-Einsteins. Let dogs be true to their nature and also let people be true to themselves. Celebrate the place where dog and person overlap. Respect the boundaries where we don't. Respect the fact that you can't satisfy all your dogs needs. Your puppy/dog needs to play with other dogs and puppies. When dogs play, they do it hard. Learn how dogs play for the shear joy of understanding --- don't think you can tell them a better way. If you play with your puppy, your dog will learn how humans play. That's important, because there are too many people out there that want to regulate all the natural playful joy out of our lives. Your dog can keep you sane in a world full of control freaks. Dogs don't give a damn about Council Regulations --- and neither should you. Regulations are made by people who have lost their inner wolf.

A tale of fangs and steel

Actually, I have a suspicion or two about how that dog tag came undone. Dog fangs, that's how. Sam has many doggy play-mates. They spend hours in mock battle. Jaws locked on the throat scruff. Growl, dance, dodge and lung. Now Jasper is a Malamute. A Malamute definitely has wolfiness. I blame Jasper. I bet he went for the throat and bit into that silly S-clasp. Wimpy Wolfville steel is no match for a Malamute fang.

I'm sure Jaspers Mum and Dad would be proud of him! Jasper strikes a bite for freedom and all that is worthy of the wolf.