Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Poodle Bites

Recently, I was in Romania for an aikido seminar. That was my first visit to the country, and a delightful one. Something that I found odd was the great number of stray dogs in the streets, running free and somehow finding their way to survive and reproduce.

Dogs have been companions of mankind for many thousands of years, maybe about 15,000. Before that they were wolves. According to Wikipedia, there are 400 million of them in the world, all of them living in sort of a symbiosis with our species.

But that can change. If we don't do our part of the age old agreement, they have no choice but to become wolves again. I could see tendencies of that in Romania. Not in the daytime, when their behavior was quite yielding, going about their business in a fashion showing respect for the creatures that seized the planet. But at night, the attitude of the stray dogs changed.

They became aggressive, standing their ground, challenging people as to remind us of what party broke the contract. They moved in packs and turned any place where they happened to be into their own territory.

Dogs, like humans, are flock animals. When they form a flock they feel the strength of it and cease to yield. So they did. So do we.

When dogs get this confident and don't depend on humans for their meals, it's not too hard to guess what will happen. It already does, to some extent. Just in Bucharest, the capital, there are 11,000 annual bite victims. Romanians are aware of the hazard and treat it with caution. Not unlike the wariness needed to manage in city areas harassed by gangs – human gangs. Dogs have gangs, too. It's the flock thing.

So, animosity increases, and will keep on doing so as long as the dogs are stray, still finding ways to survive and reproduce. Dogs are good at that, whether domesticated or not. And in the city their only bane would be the humans.

The people of Romania are struggling with the issue. The dogs are being sterilized, as well as can be managed with limited resources. This seems to be what animal rights groups advocate, as if it would be a pleasant alternative for the dogs. Actually, it's what racial biology and its political supporters suggested for “inferior” ethnic groups of people less than a hundred years ago.

I don't know. The alternative is to shoot the stray dogs. That's regarded as monstrous. Inhumane. As if nature worked any differently.

When the government took initiatives in this direction, the 1960's movie star Brigitte Bardot reacted. She is devoted to animal protection. My Romanian hosts told me that she took a plane to Romania and agitated strongly against the idea. Romania is not that used to visits from the jet set crowd, no matter how withered their cause for fame might be, so the officials gave up the idea, and the dogs continue to run free.

I really dislike the wiseacre attitude Bardot demonstrated. What does she know about the local situation? She's lived a charmed life since her movie debut in 1952, when she was only 18 years old. What right does she have to put any demands on how Romania should act on its own problems?

It's not that she offered to solve them. She just insisted that they should do it by sterilization, regardless of how difficult and inefficient that solution might have proven to be. Then she went home, proud as a peacock of her manifestation for animal rights. I don't think she brought any of the dogs with her.

A lot of celebrity activism is the same. Between gulps of Dom Pérignon, they protest one thing or another in politics, without the least concern for how complicated a lot of situations can be in real life. They live in a dream world, as if there were no reality outside of the silver screen and the tabloids.

For example, I saw on the Internet that Hollywood actor Matt Damon isn't pleased with Barack Obama's performance as the US President. Well, does he have any idea of how difficult that job is? Especially in the present economic situation. Obama inherited a nation on the brink of bankruptcy. What would Damon do?

People who have success tend to be cocky to the same extent. They should work on their modesty. Fame comes and goes. So does popularity. While these people have their fifteen minutes in the spotlight, there are thousands of others continuing with the tedious work of keeping society from collapsing.

Brigitte Bardot made her success by exposing what was in the 1950's an unusually large percentage of her skin. How would that qualify her for solving any problem in Romania? Matt Damon is an excellent actor in several Hollywood genres, but the silver screen is flat, whereas reality has at least four dimensions. Both of them should start by bowing in respect of how difficult the world is to run without a script.


  1. thank you! children are victims of them and nobody stands, nobody cares...This is a reality of my country so well said...

  2. I doubt these are your ideas about dogs in Romania, Mr. Stenudd.

  3. Instead of using "flock", it is better in English to use the term "herd". Humans are herd animals. Cows and sheep are herd animals. Dogs are herd animals.

    Have you noticed that all the animals that man has domesticated, all are herd animals except the domestic cat. Isn't that interesting? Is not Nature teaching us something there? I think so.

    Political correctness is designed to destroy this aspect of human behavior that is necessary for race. B. Jowett in his translation of Plato's Republic uses the proverb "Birds of feather flock together" in reference to humans gathering by like. The original Greek is "Like to Like". Jowett captures the essence perfectly.

    I'm with you the dogs need to be shot. Sad. But that is reality.

  4. WLW, I do believe that dogs - like humans - are flock animals by nature. Herds are significantly greater groups.

    Of course, modern society forces humans to live in what can be described as herds - groups so big that we don't even know most of them personally. That might be the reason we have such a hard time adapting comfortably to society.

  5. I like that you are not limited at one interest and even dogs are included. Looking at your site, I am smiling that your interests are so diverse. I like that you smoke despite the atrocious non-smoking campaign - good sign of no hypocrisy - so, you made me stop and read. I do not do this usually, but I was born in Romania and everything bad I hear or see hurts. There is no decent solution in Romania without funds and they will not spend money to care about dogs when old people have no food. The way we treat animals and old people is a sign of civilization.
    After 1990, Romania became a free country but as all freedoms, this one has a price: the poverty of the poor and the richness of the rich. Nothing spectacular here. The strange is that this people had nothing for a long time, the socialism took everything they had including self-respect. The new achieved freedom did not bring it back at all on the contrary it erased the common sense too. We can see very expensive, big, shinny cars, while old people have nothing to eat or wear in winter and beg for a few pennies on streets. In this kind of situation who can think about a solution, humane and decent for dogs? You are perfectly right about Bardot, no clue of what life is in poverty. If we expect a solution form the “money people”, it will not come. That is why the dogs in Romania are on streets, they are everyone's dogs, they share the same poverty with the old beggars and nobody cares.

  6. Simon, I like the way you put it: "they share the same poverty" - indeed. Something Bardot knows nothing about.

  7. Yes, for sure! In socialism they had a company who collected an killed them. Today they are free. What is better?


  8. I think that humans are not gathering in herds nor in flocks. I always believed that we gather in groups. A herd of humans? :))

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