Thursday, May 14, 2009

dogs & the plantation order(s) of things

{ I }

Dog and Gun; A Few Loose Chapters on Shooting

- Title of 1856 book by Johnson Jones Hooper, Alabama writer known for his humorous sketches of frontier life in the swamps and forests of the Old Southwest (i.e. inland Deep South of AL, Mississippi, Louisiana, etc.)
{ II }

"Field sports provided [antebellum white planter-class] men an identity based on their demonstrated expertise with horses, dogs, guns, and slaves."
- from Stuart Marks, Southern Hunting in Black and White, 1991
{ III }

"Slavery's roots as a form of captivity... entailed the strictest control of the physical and social mobility of enslaved people, as some of the institution's most resonant accouterments - shackles, chains, passes, slave patrols, and hounds - suggest."
- from Stephanie Camp, Closer to Freedom: Enslaved Women and Everyday Resistance in the Plantation South, 2004
{ IV }

"[To an enslaved person newly sold to the deep South] the whole world must have seemed to throb with slavery - with the shouts of owners railing about distinctions that only they could understand; with the hushed and hurried advice of slaves who had already survived their "seasoning"; with the quick hiss of the lash and the low baying of hounds that marked the boundaries of the permissable; with loneliness, uncertainty, and fear.
- from Walter Johnson, Soul by Soul: Life inside the Antebellum Slave Market, 2001

Friday, May 8, 2009

dog cartography

My love of dogs and love of maps converged in a Dog Whisperer episode I caught this afternoon (apologies for the iPhone/TiVo freeze frame photography):

Cesar's client in this episode is dog-phobic dad Ernesto - a hulking Mr. Clean look-alike - who desperately wants to overcome his traumatic memories of a childhood dog attack, so that his kids can get a family pooch. In the middle of the episode, Cesar breaks out this dog energy map, wherein his "team" has detailed the location and energy level (High, Medium, Low) of every dog in Ernesto's neighborhood. So if he's not feeling sufficiently "assertive" one day, he can simply chart a course avoiding the high-strung big dogs, etc.

Millan's dominance-based method of dog-training has been criticized, rightfully so, by progressive trainers and behavioral scientists. This 2006 article in the San Francisco Chronicle lays out the arguments nicely. But behind or alongside the whole macho "leadership" claptrap, there also seems to be something incongruously - or may be charlatanically? - new age about his approach. I mean, energy map? (I also suspect there's more interspecies subtlety and give-and-take in his actual techniques than he lets on - but that's an admittedly unscientific observation.)

In any case, this amusing detail of Millan's map pretty much describes the energy-scape of my household:

find of the day

Funny-looking (and inaccurate) illustration for a talking (not reading) dog story in the Nov/Dec 1831 issue of Juvenile Miscellany, a children's lit magazine edited by the trail-blazing feminist abolitionist writer Lydia Maria Child.