Saturday, January 16, 2010

Will Spot Hit the Spot?

This piece is a brief summary of thoughts resulting from the article Fido Friend or Food?. It has been suggested by sources kinder than I that Fido, Fluffy and Spot should be spared the stew pot due to their usefulness. But are they truly useful or is that a figment of the pet owner's imagination?

Please Pass the Hindquarters
Some (well fed) dogs share their catches (Retrievers mostly I would think). However, if you've ever watched video of a pack eating a kill you've probably noticed that sharing isn't part of the protocol.

But failing to share slobbery squirrels and ripped up rabbits wouldn't be a problem if Spot was feeding himself (thus producing no drag on the family survival slipstream) and providing an early warning system thus providing for the public good.

However there may be a problem with that. My wife and I take an almost daily one mile walk around our neighborhood. Without fail we are barked at by about a dozen dogs every day. The same dogs. Dogs that should know us by now. We have managed to make "friends" with one dog so that it only stares at us through the fence as we walk by.

If a family is Bugging In (remaining in their home) after a WTSHTF event morphs into TEOTWAWKI Spot's barks become a two edged sword serving to alert the family to the presence of nearby strangers and the strangers to the presence of nearby protein.

Marauders may charge into the home for K9 burgers, but I'm sure they'd be willing to stay once they saw what else was on the menu.

If the family is Bugging Out (fleeing their home) a leashed dog isn't going to stay leashed long and a free ranging dog is likely to wander off thus solving the noise attraction problem while depriving the family of a protein source.

But dogs also offer protection. (For the record although I'm no expert I believe properly raised Pit Bulls, Rottweilers and Bull Dogs are no more dangerous than Mastiffs, German Shepards or other medium to large size dogs. However their size combined with their predispositions tend to make them more dangerous if they do attack.)

(My only personal experience in this regard occurred while I was working as a security guard. Some very young children next door were playing with a Bull Dog puppy when it latched onto the belly of a little girl. Bull Dogs are famous for tenaciousness and this puppy was true to its instincts. The screams of the children as they ran up had my hand hovering over my .45 revolver until I saw what they were crying about. I quickly realized a gun wasn't called for. The puppy was literally hanging from the little girl's tummy by his teeth as she ran over. Had the dog been larger she wouldn't have been mobile and perhaps more drastic measures would have been called for. As it was I was able to get my hands around the dog's throat and strangle it until it gasped for air. In doing so it released its bite on the little girl's skin. I relaxed my grip so the dog could breathe again and carried it, still by the neck, over to the fence from whence it came and dropped it back into its own back yard. When I turned around the kids were gone. I was alone on duty and couldn't leave my post, but about an hour later the little girl's mother came over and thanked me. By forcing the dog to release its grip on the skin I'd avoided creating a tearing wound. All the little girl had were some tooth puncture holes, which would probably heal without scaring, and as story to tell when she grew up.)

Nobody wants to get bit even by a small dog, yet SWAT teams regularly go into yards and buildings protected by large "Bad Dogs" who've been raised to be that way by bad people. The SWAT guys seldom get bit. I know of two instances where burglars killed guard dogs (Once inside with a gun and once through a chain link fence with (probably) a pellet gun.) A medium to large dog attacking your attackers would momentarily distract them which would give you an advantage IF you were prepared to take advantage of the advantage. And, to be fair, the prospect of a dog bite might discourage potential attackers.

Dogs can also pull carts and bear backpacks if you've had the foresight to make or buy them.

Bottom line
Long term, of course livestock guarding and herding dogs will be valuable for their innate talents once the TEOTWAWKI induced human die off peters out and rebuilding begins.

Short term A WELL TRAINED dog that can be depended upon to warn with a growl and not give your position away to every passerby would be worth keeping even if you were starving. However Porky the Vietnamese pot-bellied pig and yammering mutts would make good soup stock.

Question for preppers and survivalist dog lovers: is your dog trained to growl instead of bark? Have you stitched up a wagon pulling harness for him? Bought the cart? Is there a doggie backpack in your closet?

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