The Poodle Bites

The Poodle Bites

Speculations by Stefan Stenudd

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.

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A Sunday brunch conversation with a stranger slips into the mysterious, soon to burst beyond the realm of possibility. Click the image to see the book at Amazon (paid link).

       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.

Brigitte Bardot

       When the government took initiatives in this direction, the 1960s 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 in her youth.

       Brigitte Bardot made her success by exposing what was in the 1950s 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.

Stefan Stenudd
November 6, 2011

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Stefan Stenudd

Stefan Stenudd

About me
I'm a Swedish author of fiction and non-fiction books in both English and Swedish. I'm also an artist, a historian of ideas, and a 7 dan Aikikai Shihan aikido instructor. Click the header to read my full bio.