Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Puzzling About Muzzling

 id=You'd think that by this point, having lived and worked overseas now for a handful of years, I'd be used to The Expression - The Expression I'm frequently on the receiving end of that tells me that my students clearly think that I am mentally feeble.

Don't you muzzle your dogs in Canada? delivered in such a tone so as not only to drive the point home that I'm mentally feeble but that, if there is no such muzzle law in Canada, then Canada is a few rungs lower on the Developing Nation status - hovering somewhere in the region of Burkina Faso - than my students had originally estimated.

I don't know if there's a national law - I don't think so. I mean, I haven't lived there in over 3 years and I've never owned a dog. I think pit bulls might be required to be muzzled in some provinces ...
We have a national highway! You don't! We began it some 50 years ago and it's been complete for over 30 and it barely takes 5 hours to travel across your entire country, or it would if you had a national highway but you don't, do you?!!

And so I rambled on, further entrenching myself as mentally feeble in my students' eyes, and my country as woefully backward. This all came about because Pán Kocúr and I had begun noticing how many dogs in Bratislava were carried about in purses muzzled - and frankly, it was a little weird if not disconcerting. So I asked my students if there is a muzzle law in Slovakia and sure enough there is. Interestingly (or at least interestingly to me) muzzles - or the muzzling of dogs here - is limited neither to breed nor weight. So the first time I saw a chihuahua in a muzzle, I had to laugh - its face being too diminutive to adequately fill the muzzle - and to say that the dog looked pathetic and its muzzle pathetically ineffectual goes without saying. (Although I just did).

It would seem that in Bratislava, there exists but one size of muzzle - what the Sears catalogue might have called "husky" boy (or dog) size - and with many of the city's inhabitants smitten with purse-sized dogs, it is obvious that one size does not fit all.

There seems to be two responses to the Muzzle Question: either small dogs are trotting about the city with cages essentially hanging from their heads or owners (or more accurately their dogs) are eschewing the muzzle altogether. The appropriate - if not legal - response might be to either import or produce size-appropriate muzzles but that idea has yet to catch on. Or better yet, fight the law.

I can hardly blame the dog owners who choose not to restrain their dogs: these face-caged animals don't look particularly happy and every time I see one I can't help but thing of Orwell's Winston Smith and his face-mask of starving rats. He wasn't very happy either. But what with this mishmash of non-muzzled and muzzled dogs, dogs the size of elk and dogs the size of rodents on the streets of Bratislava, clearly, it's a dog's breakfast out there.


Jillian said...

Nobody muzzles in the Northeast U.S. (never seen it in VT, NH, ME, NY, or MA, except on say, pit bulls or German Shepherds)...that's insane to me!

Mačka in Slovak said...

It's like seeing the Taco Bell dog behind bars!

Matthew Coe said...

I suspect Beverly Hills Chihuahua may have been improved by these oversized muzzles. At least then those of us who knew from the outset (i.e. everyone who doesn't work for Disney) that it was, in all likelihood, the worst movie ever conceived, would have been able to get a laugh out of it.

In all seriousness, though, I hate seeing muzzles on dogs. It can't not do terrible things to the animal's self esteem--one of the ways that dogs establish who's alpha is by grabbing the other dog's muzzle as a reminder, "I'm bigger than you, and could eat you if I had to" (or something to that effect)... imagine having that reminder at all times.

Dogs are only dangerous if they're poorly trained and poorly kept. That's all there is to it.

Frisco said...

You must leave that evil place.