Only in America: “Rattlesnake-avoidance class” for your dog

May 8, 2007 at 4:08 pm (Random thoughts)

If you know me, you know that I don’t like pets. Cats and dogs are the primary source of my angst but birds, fish and reptiles are generally included in causing my mind to grimace and my shoulders to cringe. I don’t like them the same way I don’t like mayonnaise. I find them completely repugnant but I understand that some peoples tastes have been shaped by the culture of America and thus they now embrace these unnatural likes.

Let me elaborate on this point for a second. Practically everything that you like and dislike has little to do with your personality and genetic make up, and more to do with the influences of media on your life.

Music, Commercials, TV Shows, Movies, Magazines, All combine to sell us something, convince us of something, causes us to believe in something. If they haven’t convinced you the chances are they have convinced a large enough number of people around you that they can persuade through the oh-so-strong influence known as “peer pressure”. Think about it, how else can you explain the fashions of the 60’s and 70’s ?

The reason this works is because human beings are either too weak-minded to think for themselves or too weak-willed to choose for themselves.

It’s why we crave junk-food and why we believe we “should” eat health food.

It’s why we prefer Starbucks over brewing coffee at home.

It’s why we hate the Dodgers and love the Padres.

It’s why you need to get your Mom a card for Mothers Day.

It’s why you have a pet.

OK, so fine you’ve got yourself a little critter running around that you spend your  money on to feed and to groom. You take it for walks and you pet it and you love your pet. Hooray for you, you are a good pet owner. You are responsible, you are kind, and you receive from your pet the emotional joys that you purchased your pet for to begin with. You know first hand why they call it “mans best friend”.

I don’t have a problem with you owning a pet and I hope you aren’t insulted by me saying the deep seeded logic behind your pet ownership is that you are weak-minded or weak-willed. It’s true of everyone in everything.

What I do have a problem with is when your weak-will/mindedness becomes outright idiocy. It’s at this point when I fear for the future of planet earth.

This fear swept over me like a tidal wave when I read this headline “Taking your dog for a hike this spring? Live in an area with snakes? If so, enrolling Fido in a rattlesnake-avoidance class might save your friend’s life.”

“Rattlesnake-avoidance class”? I don’t think Al Gore would buy this one.

Evidently this lady, Tracy Jenson-Presson (Can you believe there are still women doing the feminist double name thing? Even Hillary abandoned that), is a “world class-dog trainer”. (Dog training itself seems like a made-up profession, if you can’t train your own dog you shouldn’t be allowed to purchase a dog.) (dang there I go on my parenthesis binge again).

Ok back to topic…

Tracy, is trying to convince people to enroll their dogs in a class to teach them to be scared of rattlesnakes. Why? Because she is a darn good capitalist. If you don’t have anything good to sell, change your advertising.

How does she train your canine to be afraid of rattlesnakes? Well she takes them out into a field, puts an electronic collar on them, shows them a real rattlesnake and then shocks them. This way your dog associates snakes with barking at the neighbors or scratching the door or chewing on the furniture or any other of the natural things your pooch does that you just don’t want it to do.

The beauty of her training is the she uses REAL RATTLESNAKES! But she sedates them so they aren’t a threat to your animal. But the whole point is that they are supposed to be threatening! They are supposed to hear the rattle, see the fangs and the striking and think “danger”. How stupid have our dogs become that they don’t recognize the hostility of a venomous reptile? Not only are our dogs stupid, but we’ve got to be extra stupid since the entire premise of the article is that we are HIKING WITH OUR DOG! The natural supposition is that the dog owners themselves are too stupid to leash their dogs or too stupid to pull back on the leash at the sound/sight of a snake.

Of course this supposition makes sense because if they are stupid enough to pay $100 for a 15 minute class that ultimately causes their dog to be afraid of not just snakes but “sticks, hoses and strange noises”, then they are probably stupid enough to buy this line from Tracy Jenson-Presson-… “I recommend dog owners put their dogs in a refresher course every spring to reinforce the training.”

What a racket. I think Mrs Presson has even outdone the oxygen hawkers with this one.



  1. danielbalc said,

    I didn’t know how to fit this into my post so i decided to leave it in comment form. The greatest quote of the entire article in the UT is at the very end of the FAQ portion of the article. this is what is says…

    What technique is used to reinforce the danger of the snake to the dog? Does it hurt? Jenson-Presson uses an electronic teaching collar that she controls with a remote. A low-level shock is given the dog when it puts its nose to the snake or goes to grab it. “I always test it on myself before I put it on the dog,” Jenson-Presson said. “It will hurt a little bit, but it’s the only way to simulate a snake bite.” She also places the collar on the dog to ensure it’s on correctly. The shock from the collar will cause the dog to associate the snake with the pain and danger.

    “I always test it on myself before I put it on the dog” ?????????
    What the heck is this lady smoking?

  2. Matt S said,

    Is this an epidemic? Are dogs all over America being attacked by rattlesnakes? What are the statistics? How many bites? How many deaths?

    This lady is just taking advantage of America’s unhealthy love of their animals. I can’t fault her, like you said she is just being a good capitalist.

    Animal lovers, on the other hand, are out of control and they will do more for the animal than they will do for themselves, crazy.

    If your dog dies, stroll down to the local pet store and pick out another.

  3. Alex said,

    my co-worker was just telling me about this Pet Hotel that Petsmart is now making avalable. Just apart of the propaganda that “us humans are no better than our furry little friends.” Here have a little laugh on me:

  4. danielbalc said,

    Thanks Alex, I just got that vomit taste in my mouth.

  5. Gregg said,

    To further your point. While I was in Law Enforcement I got into more physical altercations with suspects over two things 1) their children, 2) their dogs. People love their dogs and some are willing to fight with the police over them. That is crazy.

    I am not sure your premise is accurate regarding a media driven market to the weak willed, emotioanlly needed pet owner. Dogs and humans have worked togther herding, hunting, carting, warfare, and others for eons. Long before the Romans invented advertisements there has been a partnership between dog and dude. (You get a whole hearted amen on cats- nothing redeeming about owning a cat)

    Now before I sound insulted by your premise, I will agree that there are tons of crazy pet owners and training your dog to fear rattlesnakes seems crazy too. Yet it is capitalism and she could be praised for finding a nitch market and people to pay to money, as she is “just living the dream.”

  6. RubeRad said,

    Tracy, is trying to convince people to enroll their dogs in a class to teach them to be scarred of rattlesnakes.

    Isn’t the point that she’s trying to teach the dogs NOT to get scarred by rattlesnakes?

    I’m with you though, cats suck and mayonnaise is disgusting.

  7. danielbalc said,

    haha Rube, correction has been made.

  8. danielbalc said,

    Yes Gregg this is true… “Dogs and humans have worked togther herding, hunting, carting, warfare, and others for eons.”

    But thats not what America uses dogs for. I don’t have a problem with using dogs, or any other animal. Americans don’t use dogs, they get used by them. It’s embarrassing. Personally I prefer the Chinese model of dog ownership. Not that I find dogs appetizing, but dogs as food makes a whole lot more sense then this…

    check out the prices on the “Paris Hilton” line. AHHH!

  9. danielbalc said,

  10. danielbalc said,

    Oh goody, The UT has put up video of this world class dog training

  11. Pablo Honey said,

    Thanks for the hot links Daniel! Expect to see Dolby high-stepping his way around rattlesnakes in some sweet pink sequins sneakers very soon.

  12. Anthony said,

    glamourdog stuff is silly, but only 0.05% of US dog owners shop there. You can’t attack dog ownership because of that website. I’m pretty sure that most dog owners (with kids especially) have pets for the companionship and for enjoyment. I really don’t think people go out and buy a dog because of the media. My daughter things dogs are cute and fun to play with and she doesn’t watch CNN.

  13. danielbalc said,

    sorry anthony, but stats show pet ownership isn’t just because kids think dogs are cute. It’s an enitre cultural phenomen that sees ownership increase with each generation. It’s all about what’s trendy.

  14. thin air said,

    Most dogs are cool. If I had a pet it would be a dog. But it would certainly not be one of those yappy little ones. Cats are worthless. If I had a cat I would probably be arrested for pet abuse. Just my opinion but some people treat their pets like gods. They can’t go anywhere without them.

  15. Anthony said,

    I don’t know anybody who’s pet is their personal status symbol. It may be trendy for some but that doesn’t make it wrong or stupid for everyone. Are you saying that is no good reason to own a dog? You don’t think that there are thousands of dog owners who actually find companionship in a dog or security in a dog.

    You point out two extremes. Using dogs for food and buying diamonds for dogs. There is a middle ground where you have a dog that lives outside, doesn’t wear clothing and you throw tennis balls at it. Maybe your dog bit you too much when you were a kid.

  16. danielbalc said,

    Are you saying “companionship” is a good reason to own a dog? Think about that.

    Genesis 2:18-20
    18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” 19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found.

    There are plenty of good reasons for people to have dogs….
    shepherding, hunting, search and rescue, guiding, security, helping people with disabilities, sniffing out drugs, maybe there’s a few more but not off the top of my head.

    The point is that animals for “companionship” is unnatural. It’s what we do because we have too many personality problems and don’t want to interact with humans.
    Prime example of the flawed humanity of pet owners last night…
    My wife and I were at the beach waiting for the sun to set so she could take some pictures. As the sun gets to just the right spot all of a sudden out of no where come two big white labs frolicking in the ocean directly where the picture was about to be taken. One of them literally stops center frame about 5 inches deep in the water with the sunset shimmering behind it and takes a dump. Then the dogs come running at us and the other sunset gazers scattered about the beach sniffing at us and shaking their wet fur all over the place. meanwhile their “owners” are standing off to side laughing and yelling at their dogs to “stay in the water, leave those people alone” completely ignoring the fact this there is a leash law for a reason. Finally a life guard shows up (after the sun has set) and tells them they have to have their dogs on a leash. As if they didn’t know this to begin with. As if common sense can’t tell you this.

    It’s funny how people always try to ignore my logic on pet ownership by blaming a traumatic experience with my childhood. Fact is I had nothing but good experiences with our childhood pets. I can’t recall ever being bitten. And the fact that people take something by “being bitten” so lightly is pretty ridiculous too.

    “oh you were probably just bitten as a child” Any animal that bites a child should be immediately beat. If it bites a child a second time it should be put to sleep.

  17. RubeRad said,

    Dogs and humans have worked together herding, hunting, carting, warfare, and others for eons

    If I had a dog, I would rather take it to classes so it could learn how to take a snakebite to protect me or my family from getting hurt!

  18. danielbalc said,

    Rube, you didn’t read the article. The class isn’t about protecting people at all. It’s about running away from snakes. the goal is to terrify your dog so that it keeps itself from getting hurt.

    If you taught your dog to protect you and your family from danger then good for you, thats about the best reason a non-handicapped civilian should own a dog.

  19. Gregg said,

    Perhaps the reason why so many people question your logic and suggest you had a tramatic childhood experience, thankfully erroneously, is because your logical is not fluvial.

    You are attempting to make an anti-dog ownership argument from Genesis. Of couse dogs are not meant to be the help mate and companion for man. Daniel, not all companionship is equal. I have a best friend, who I enjoy hanging out with we have great companionship, however he is not my wife. The companionship I have with her is vastly greater and deeper. Are you suggesting that my friendship with this guy is “unnatural” as he was not created to be my help mate?

    Had you made the case that dog are seen throughout the Bible as unclean and you believe that we sould not give what is holy to dogs, then you might have a stronger argument. As these cases are generally figurative the argument would be still be erroneous, but at least you can say you are trying to apply the Bible accurately.

    Have you ever heard the phrase “JDLR” (Just Doesn’t Look Right) Your Biblical defense of not owning dog (save for functional purposes) is JDLR. Perhaps one reason people might be attacking your position is it appears to be a preference that you have and are trying to justify Biblically. You do not like dogs. That is cool. I do not like cats. We are allowed to not like certain things, like dogs and cats. But I would never make a case that because cats were worshipped in Ancient Egypt to own a cat is a kin to idolatry. I would not say that because it is faulty logic. To make a case against dog ownership because it is unnatural is equally faulty. However, it is OK for you to say, “Hey I just don’t like dogs! I think their owners allow them to run amok, I think it is crazy that their owners buy them clothing and jewerly and special vacations. I think all these things, but I understand it is merely an opinion- not a Biblically support case.

    Daniel perhaps that is why people are attacking your argument.


  20. Alex said,

    Daniel, for the record I love dogs and as soon as Marco is old enough (maybe in a year) we will be purchasing (or adopting) one for our family.

    I remember when Micha was about 2 years old playing outside at my parents house and I happened to be outside cleaning up when our dog(an Akita) started barking. He refused to stop so I went over to go check on what he was barking at. It turns out he had gotten between Micha and a rattlesnake that was about 10 feet away from her. Thank God everything turned out good because we were able to get Micha away safely. I think dogs are very useful I just don’t think they should be treated like humans.

  21. danielbalc said,

    Gregg, I don’t argue against dog ownership from Genesis or any other biblical passage. i argue it from LOGIC. That’s my point. The logic of spending ridiculous amounts of money and time and emotional investment into a creature for “companionship”. Pet ownership for companionship is illogical. It takes the place of the good, natural and normal dynamics of human relationships (like you have with your friend).

    Pet ownership for purposes other than companionship makes perfect sense to me.

    My point from Genesis was to demonstrate that no animals were created for companionship. None. People were. Other human beings.

    People attack my logic because they are in denial, not because my logic is wrong.

    Here’s the point. I could make the same argument against MYSELF in terms of baseball …
    “The logic of spending ridiculous amounts of money and time and emotional investment into a creature for “companionship”.”

    If Baseball were to be something I sought after for “companionship” (as many many people have done) and it replaces my interactions with humans especially my wife or my good friends then everyone would agree baseball is a bad decision. But when it comes to pet ownership we give people a pass if they are anti-social siding with their pets over other humans. Can’t you see the problem with that?

    Alex, It’s your dog (Oso was it?) didn’t take the rattlesnake intervention class because he would have left Micha to fend for herself. In my experience I have never seen your family have a dog for companionship that’s good. I wish I could say the same for my own family. If you want to buy a dog go ahead, BUT don’t call it “adopting” that is a horrible perversion of a beautiful thing.

    I will also give this point in regards to companionship being the purpose of an animal. The least liked animal in our family happens to be the most useful one. It is my Nana’s dog. Everyone hates this dog, it’s an annoying and disgusting creature. Nevertheless my Nana loves it because she is a widow and it does provide her with a consistent form of companionship. I would never take that away from her.

    likewise with my other family members who have canines for companionship if they were to lose their animals in some sort of tragedy I would feel sad for them and their loss. BUT I would strongly recommend that they spare themselves future loss (and save a bunch of money) by not making the mistake of investing in another animal.

  22. Gregg said,

    If I am following your logic you are saying that people were created to fulfill the human need for companionship correct? A Dog (or anything else) cannot meet that need God put in us, correct?

    It takes two people to prevent thes pet owners from misusing their dogs. Someone like your Nana (and believe me, I mean absolutely no disrespect by using her as an illustration- only following your lead) would not need a dog if she had more consistent family interact. Right? So an application to your logic is to have her stay with family members. Have you offered to live with her, or have her move in with you? or is your dislike merely an academic endeavor.

  23. Pablo Honey said,

    Daniel, your logic is so biased and flawed on this matter it’s just plain ridiculous. I am so tired of hearing your arguments about this topic because there is simply no reason for it. The simple fact is that pet ownership brings people joy. I love my dog. He brings me joy because he plays with me and is always happy to see me. Sometimes my dog makes me angry, but most times he makes me very happy. How is this any different than other things in life? You love the Padres. Attending games and cheering them on brings you joy. You give the Padres money so you can watch them play. You even dress yourself in Padres apparel because you love them so much. Sometimes the Padres make you angry, I have witnessed this firsthand. But you still love the Padres, and as long as they don’t trade for Barry Bonds you probably always will. It is worth it for me to pay money to take care of my dog just like you spend money on many things Padres related. Pet ownership is all about doing something that makes you happy. Some things that make you happy are sinful, but as long as your pet is not taking the place of God in your life then it is not a sin to love it. Just like loving the Padres is not a sin, unless they become an idol. I just don’t understand why you have to fight this. It seems to me that you just want to pick a fight with pet owners. Maybe I am way off but the whole argument just seems like a selfish attempt to promote your “logic” and make everyone else look like weak minded idiots. I realize this is not where your original post was intending on going, I completely agree with your original post. To me rattlesnake training for a dog is absurd, just like paying $350 for a brick in the Tony Gwynn statue is ridiculous. But some people really love their Padres….

  24. danielbalc said,

    Pablo, I already stated I could make the same argument against myself regarding baseball. Notice comment 20.

    I completely recognize that.

    I am saying pet owners do not or will not admit this.

    I’m saying pet ownership is a more tolerated form of anti-social behavior. Perhaps (but not necessarily) even more so then baseball because it often infringes upon other humans rights.

    I don’t want pet owners to come off as “weak minded idiots” any more then everyone has their weak-minded vices. And everyone does.

    but as for the original post I think that is to applaud this lady for taking advantage of people weak-minded idiotic behavior.

    just like i applaud the Padres for banking on Tony Gwynn Bricks

  25. danielbalc said,

    BTW Pablo, I said and I mean that I would never wish for you to lose your dog. I would be very sad about that. same goes for Schnitzel and Maise and Prissy. I don’t want any of those dogs to die because I know how much they mean to you all.

  26. Albino Hayford said,

    I refuse to comment until I see Echo’s thesis first. But let me just give you a teaser: Paul told the Galatians to “watch out for those DOGS…” Hmmmmm…..

  27. Anthony said,

    Just because someone has a “companionship” with a dog doesn’t mean they don’t have any companionships with people. There ARE people like that and they are strange. But they don’t represent all dog owners.

    BTW, I have never owned a dog outside of my childhood.

    Do you agree that there is something different about dogs than say chickens? Dogs are capable of displaying emotion. There is a reason why people like dogs and it’s not just because of food, Paris Hilton and CNN.

  28. Pablo Honey said,

    Actually Anthony you may be on to something here… YES! I just checked and is still available! I can already smell the millions… Or is that the feces stuck on the chicken’s butt feathers?

  29. RubeRad said,

    Do you agree that there is something different about dogs than say chickens?


    Hugh Ross (pusher of a flavor of theistic evolution, although that’s not really relevant), categorizes animals as “soulish” or “not soulish”. Soulish animals are those with recognizable intelligence, so humans might be interested in having them as pets, and usually wouldn’t eat them. Dogs, cats, horses, dolphins, monkeys, etc. Non-soulish animals are everything else. Not much use as a pet, and definitely good eats!

    I can’t remember if he is saying that soulish animals have souls but not spirits, or if they don’t have souls, but only something we find recognizably like a soul.

    Will all dogs be in heaven? Will the new heavens and the new earth include animals? If not, how about plants? We may have already covered this territory on Daniel’s Revelations quiz a while back…

  30. Bruce S. said,

    Literalist reading New Earth = You can have a pet lion and a pet lamb or maybe an allegorist reading
    New Earth = The devil and Jesus will be buddies.

    FWIW, barking dogs are of the devil. I moved out of my own house because of them.

  31. RubeRad said,

    I thought it was roosters?

  32. danielbalc said,

    Anthony, again you are missing the point.

    It’s not JUST because of Paris Hilton and CNN but they are part of it. It’s an entire CULTURE that buys into a way of thinking. IN China the culture is to eat dogs. we think that is weird. Here the culture is to play own dogs, they think that is weird.

    Rube’s point about dividing animals into “soulish” and unsoulish” (while somewhat silly) is well taken. You can classify all kinds of different animals the way you have classified dogs (“capable of showing emotion”). My one personal pet of my childhood (turtle) didn’t have this capability and yet I still imagined it onto him by giving him a name and by feeding him and by talking to him.

    Animals don’t have “personality” other then what we train them, or fail to train out of them (i.e. barking dogs).

  33. thin air said,

    I thought the Dodgers were of the devil.

  34. Bruce S. said,

    Nope. Roosters were a problem in the early ’90s. It was dogs in the early ’00s. (Which were also a problem in the ’90s).

  35. itsasecret2u said,

    I actually have nutritional reasons not to eat dogs (and cats and pigs and shellfish), but I won’t get in to that this time…

    I think that there are people in America who have a perfectly balanced perspective on pet ownership. (Sorry, Daniel, but you’re not one of them…) My dad is the perfect example. He has two dogs. They live outside, don’t own any sweaters, and they do their job well. What is their job? Chasing away critters, protecting the house, protecting the family, etc. These dogs serve a practical purpose. HOWEVER, they are also loved. My dad (and his family) love these dogs. The big one wrestles with my dad (and my husband when we’re there), yet is completely gentle and incomparably tolerant of the grandchildren’s antics. This is a great dog who knows her place and does exactly what she’s supposed to do. There’s nothing wrong with loving an animal who also serves a practical function. That is balance.

    There are some other unbalanced examples I can think of, as well. My dear mother who loves the cats so much that she a) authorized a kitty blood transfusion on our cat Colette before she expired from some cat-auto-immune disease, and b) has our other kitty, Tony, on a special kidney-function diet (and has for the last several years), which at one point included having to feed the cat baby food meats when he wouldn’t eat his regular kidney food. Ummm, yeah.

    Ooh, here’s a good one… When my husband was six years old and his grandmother’s cat (known to have a cranky disposition) scratched his left eye out detaching the retina, destroying the lens, ripping the pupil open, and causing almost total, permanent blindness in that eye, his grandmother refused to put the beloved animal down, despite the furious requests of my in-laws (particularly my f.i.l., as it was his mother).

    So are there extremes? Of course. But loving your pet is not an extreme. Deriving hapiness from your pet’s presence and attachment to you is not an extreme.

    P.S. I would ask anyone who thinks cats are useless to talk to someone who owns a farm. My aunt and uncle in Oklahoma LOVE their cats (who never come in the house, have their claws, and catch critters on the farm all night, every night).

  36. danielbalc said,

    Cats (like dogs) can indeed be useful… IF YOU LIVE ON A FARM!

    That’s my contention regarding pet ownership. The culture of it has become so out of balance it’s not even funny. It’s a dangerous descent.

    For Example. Can anyone remember the days when you could buy a puppy from some guy in front of a grocery store?
    Not anymore…

    Remember the end of old yeller?
    Don’t even think about it.

    Ever buried your dog in your yard?

    And the scary thing is, as the pet population increases, so do the casualties AND FATALITIES.

  37. itsasecret2u said,

    Not a cat fan, myself. Maybe it’s because I grew up with the pampered, indoor variety. They are, indeed, useless.

  38. danielbalc said,

    Oh how sweet the irony. It is my estimation that the vast majority of pet lovers are also idol watchers.

    well how does this story sound?,2933,274592,00.html

  39. swimming up stream (a controversial opinion on the crimes of Ron Mexico) « Daniel’s Den said,

    […] justifiable, reasonable or pardonable. Even given my strong distaste for canines (which has been well documented on other postings)  I don’t think any of them should be kicked let alone forced to fight to […]

  40. danielbalc said,

    Thankfully we get a story about a dog that didn’t take this class.,4670,ODDChihuahuaRattlesnake,00.html

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