My big day.

The first person to wish me a happy Mother’s Day was on Saturday. Total stranger, just “happy Mother’s Day” as I walked past, so I said, “Same to you, or to your wife or whatever.” Kinda weird.

More HMDs came at Eastern Market, and today, on actual Mother’s Day, I got several just pushing my cart at Kroger, again from strangers.

I did not post social-media photos of my mother, nor of Kate and me (“the one who made me a mother” is the usual verbiage, I believe), and in fact didn’t even see her, but she called from Berlin. She comes home tonight, and we’ll observe this holiday at some point, I guess.

“The Derringers don’t set a lot of store on the Hallmark holidays,” I told her when she called, which we say every year; it’s kind of a joke.

Who made Mother’s Day into such a huge thing? (Social media.) Mitch Albom wrote a drippy column about how much he misses his own mom, and all I could think was, “then celebrate some mother in your family, or even your own wife, dumbass.” But no one listens to my thoughts but me. We all miss our dead mothers, if they were good ones.

Hope yours was good. I washed all my bedding and changed the sheets, restocked all our provisions. Alan potted annuals and our usual herb array. The growing season is on.

And, because it’s an election year, this is happening, too:

Four words in the location tag, three of them misspelled. That’s MAGA for you.

We won’t be attending, but four years ago, we saw one in progress, going past our shoreline. I think we passed through the rump end, heading back to the marina. Here’s hoping for a dangerous thunderstorm, and at least two non-fatal sinkings.

There’s an interesting, alas paywalled, story in the News this morning, about a woman suing Detroit Animal Care and Control after her husband was fatally mauled by three free-roaming pit bulls or pit mixes or “American Staffordshire” mixes or whatever. Bully breeds or mixes, all. My friend Dustin and I call ourselves breedists where pits are concerned. One attacked and nearly killed his family’s Bichon, years ago; I just don’t like or trust them. I know they can be wonderful dogs, that it’s irresponsible owners who make them that way, all of that. It doesn’t change my opinion: Where pits are concerned, proceed with caution. Always. (Actually, that’s not bad advice with all dogs, but some kind of sweep that caution off the table when they jump on you and lick your face.)

Anyway. This woman is alleging that the department knew the couple who owned these dogs were irresponsible, etc., but the part that caught my eye is this:

The lawsuit also names a nonprofit called Friends of Detroit Animal Care and Control, which supports the city agency by supplementing its budget, applying for grants, holding fundraisers and forming relationships with donors and foundations. Some of those relationships have been with national organizations that have pushed for lower euthanasia rates in shelters.

The lawsuit contends the city allowed the nonprofit to “exert extensive influence” on animal control as to how and when the city’s dangerous animal code is enforced in exchange for the money the nonprofit gets from being affiliated with some of the national organizations.

“While animal lives were being spared, dangerous animals remained and unaddressed and ever-present threat to the safety and lives of people within the City of Detroit,” the lawsuit reads. It called the no-kill model “utterly ineffective, reckless and deadly as it concerns dog owners like the Goodmans, and dogs owned by them.”

I don’t know anything about this nonprofit, but that they are against euthanasia, etc., absolutely does not surprise me. If there’s one thing that has changed enormously over the course of my life, it’s been the way we treat dogs. Some of these changes have been good, although I think we’ve gone overboard on many of them. Dogs in affluent communities like mine live better than human children in Detroit. We no longer open the back door, let Fido out, and collect him at the end of the day. If you lost your dog back then, it was because “he ran away,” i.e. got hit by a car. I step in way less dog poop than I did as a child, when virtually no one picked it up. A new dog park opened in my community over the weekend, and I’ll be taking Wendy for some r’n’r when I get a chance. Of the whole fur-baby thing I will say little other than this: I dislike that term. It disrespects an animal’s essential nature. Anthropomorphism: bad.

At the same time, I’m flabbergasted by what people are willing to spend, and risk, in their efforts to keep frankly bad dogs alive. Years ago, The New Yorker published a lengthy essay by a woman whose efforts to “rehabilitate” a dangerous pit bull suggested she was the one who needed therapy, not the dog. My respect for Ira Glass, the “This American Life” host, plummeted after I heard the segment on the show about Piney, another psychotic (and sickly, and weird) dog he kept, even as it utterly took over his life, and that of his wife (from whom he’s now divorced; not sure if Piney was a factor). A segment from the transcript:

Piney’s a smallish, sweet-faced pit bull. Think Little Rascals, not Michael Vick. He’s a rescue, a very pretty dog, white with these big light-brown patches. He’s timid. He can get scared of puppies and other animals much weaker than he is. But when he gets anxious, he sometimes attacks people.

He has to wear a muzzle whenever he goes anywhere outside Ira’s apartment, including the office. Ira and his wife never have friends over, because Piney would go after them. Piney is fearful and anxiety prone. And he has to take Valium to keep from being even more aggressive.

Ira Glass: It’s almost like somebody who’s fearful who is also a pit bull. If you imagine–

Nancy Updike: It’s exactly that.

Ira Glass: It is exactly that, yeah.

Nancy Updike: It’s not even like it. That is what is it.

Ira Glass: That is what it is. He was a normal dog until a wedding that Anaheed took him to. Anaheed drove up ahead of me, and the dog was there with her and was a puppy. And all these people were hanging around.

And there was a moment where he bit the host’s daughter, Hope, who was 9 or 10 at the time. He just got up off the floor, saw her come into the room, walked over, and bit her. And then he bit a friend of ours, Vicky, her son.

Nancy Updike: At the wedding, he bit two children?

Ira Glass: He bit two children.

And that was only the beginning of Piney’s adventures. That show aired in 2012, and I expect Piney’s gone to dog heaven by now, and even though I know it can’t possibly be true, I’d hope it was before he reached the end of his natural life, because that dog was damaged, and needed to be put down. Humanely, of course; I’m not suggesting the Kristi Noem solution. But this mania to rehabilitate animals can go — and has gone — too far.

The people in Detroit who owned the dogs who killed the man whose wife is suing were bad owners, period. Those dogs had gotten loose and bitten people before. They should have been confiscated, and killed. Again, to let them live, or to try some sort of “rehabilitation,” misunderstands their nature. A dog can’t talk, can’t reason with you. It can’t tell you it understands why biting is bad and it needs to stop. A biting dog either needs to be super-duper securely confined, or euthanized.

OK, then. Time to get in a workout and try to make sense of the week ahead.

Posted at 10:01 am in Detroit life, Same ol' same ol' |

22 responses to “My big day.”

  1. Suzanne said on May 13, 2024 at 1:32 pm

    My brother had a large pit bull mix for a number of years that he always assured me was harmless and a softie. I was extremely cautious around the dog because I know a “harmless” dog with those strong massive jaws cannot ever be trusted entirely. Even calm type dogs sometimes attack, like the sweet Labrador retriever that took a chunk out of my friend’s cheek for no apparent reason. My brother’s dog eventually developed cancer and had to be euthanized for which I was thankful.

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  2. David C said on May 13, 2024 at 1:41 pm

    I saw a breedist bumper sticker on a car not too long ago. It said “Don’t doodle my poodle”. I thought OK, it’s a fucking dog breed, not the royal family. Doodle breeds make really cute dogs and until I hear of a chihuadoodle, have at it.

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  3. Julie Robinson said on May 13, 2024 at 2:00 pm

    My family was always Team Cat, with a brief Team Dog trial. Kindergarten me was smaller than our exuberant poodle, and he knocked me over again and again. Apparently the idea of training didn’t occur to anyone. We had him maybe six months, but my fear of dogs jumping up on me has remained.

    We had a low-key MD and birthday gathering. (BD for our lad) Two quiches that were made the day before, steamed veggies, and strawberry shortcake. It was plenty, it was enough. Just being together is enough.

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  4. Brandon said on May 13, 2024 at 2:40 pm

    On pit bulls: I was reminded of this show Pit Bulls and Parolees (2009-22).

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  5. Deborah said on May 13, 2024 at 3:58 pm

    We have to regularly walk past a scary dog in Santa Fe. It lives at a property down the lane from our condo building which sits at the terminus of a dead end. The dog is basically a junk yard dog, the people who own it are an old Santa Fe family that used to own a lot of the surrounding property including our condo property which the original developers bought the land from back in the early 80s. As is common over time the heirs of wealth go down hill. The remnants of this dynasty have a property which backs up to our lane, which they operate who knows what. I’ve personally seen drug deals occurring there. A few years ago a run down trailer which was a meth lab on the property was finally hauled away. Anyway this dog is corralled in some confinement which we can’t see from the lane because of a dilapidated high wood fence. Every time we walk down the lane which we have to do to walk anywhere the dog goes out of his/her mind. It jumps up beyond the top of the fence so we can see its crazed eyes. I have no idea if it’s a pit. It’s all black and has a ferocious bark. We’re terrified it will eventually manage to jump the fence and maul us to death. We have speculated that the dog is a trained fighter for illegal dog fights. The owners are obviously happy that the dog terrifies people for whatever reason.

    This property is a remnant that includes about 14 junk vehicles sitting on it which is a clear violation of city regulations. How these people have managed to operate whatever goes on there is beyond me.

    Meanwhile Santa Fe continues to gentrify as the property all around this place has. While I think gentrification has its problems I look forward to seeing this property turn into something better and the dog going someplace else, hopefully trained or euthanized.

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  6. LAMary said on May 13, 2024 at 4:25 pm

    My dog Georgia probably has some pit in her. She has always been good with people and cats. She seems to love cats. But two years ago, at the age of 8, she broke through the fence to attack a little fluffy white dog. Thankfully she didn’t do much damage and we paid the vet bill and she hasn’t shown any killer dog proclivities since then. Of course we’re extremely careful with her but we can’t figure out what triggered her that time two years ago. She’s got a muzzle now and whenever I have to take her to the vet I let them know she can be reactive and they let me in through the back door. She’s got some Lab in her too and maybe some German Shepherd. She was the favorite of the shelter volunteers when I adopted her as a young dog. They had trained her very well. On the other hand my obnoxious next door neighbor’s chihuahua mix has bitten three people. The neighbor blames the people.

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  7. Scout said on May 13, 2024 at 5:16 pm

    Yesterday my smallest cat, weighing in at only 9 lbs, was sitting beside me on the couch when she suddenly spooked at something (god knows what) and turned into a tasmanian devil of thrashing, rolling claws as she pushed off and over me to escape the boogieman discernable only to her. I was left bleeding from my left thigh, both arms and left side of my ribs. It happened in less than a second. Today I look like Flower from Ghosts who was killed by a bear she tried to hug. I’m just lucky she missed my face and neck.

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  8. ROGirl said on May 13, 2024 at 5:22 pm

    Apart from the unprovoked and unpredictable attacks and biting, there’s also the barking (by coincidence, my neighbor’s dog woke me up last night with prolonged barking) and the wet nose aimed at your crotch.

    Gross Point Yatch Club is too funny. Is it on Lake Sinclair?

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  9. brian stouder said on May 13, 2024 at 6:08 pm

    Every so often, one or the other of our kitties will get ‘the zoomies’, and race around the house for a moment, momentarily stopping here or there and looking around, before resuming zooming. Their world has comprehensively changed, as we used to live next to a TV station (always very well-lit) in Fort Wayne, and within a block of a fire station, with a university 2 blocks away. Now, when they gaze out the window, it’s to see what the cows are mooing about.

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  10. susan said on May 13, 2024 at 6:36 pm

    Scout @7, you needed the enforcer to calm down the devil.

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  11. Deborah said on May 13, 2024 at 7:26 pm

    LB mentioned that my comment above isn’t the fault of the dog but of his training and I will admit that seems fair. The people who own the dog definitely want to scare the pants off of people so thy don’t bother them in whatever pursuits they’re involved in. As I’ve said we wouldn’t be surprised if the dog is involved in dogfights.

    One of the neighbors down the lane was renovating his van for camping and when there was a commotion at the creepy dog place the guy stood up on the top of his van while working and peered over the fence, those neighbors threatened to shoot him if he continued to look at them. Needless to say he quickly retreated. That’s why these people get away with it. Nobody dares to call the cops on them or they will retaliate, so it keeps on going.

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  12. tajalli said on May 13, 2024 at 7:56 pm

    Guy across from me has 3 dogs (2 shepherd breeds and a doberman) which the apartment management had to allow since they’re claimed to be Emotional Support Animals – otherwise it’s no pets. They are highly aggressive and go crazy within enclosed spaces like the hallways, stairwells, breezeways connecting buildings; there’s no way in and out that doesn’t involve these high traffic passageways.

    I’ve been attacked 3 times, as have several other neighbors. The owner was given 3 days to comply or quit posted on their door so I know his name.

    Soon I noticed he, and it turns out his partner, are using other addresses in the complex to receive mail, relying on the convention of just putting mis-delivered mail on top of the complex’s clustered mailboxes instead of marking it “not at this address” etc. because no one carries writing implements anymore.

    The bulk of this mail is for timeshares, insurance, loan companies, financial groups, the woman’s dental/health/tax statements (directly to my address) and also toll bills so there’s even a false address with the DMV.


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  13. SusanG said on May 13, 2024 at 9:39 pm

    A few years back, I had a beautiful long-haired, deer-headed chihuahua. She was elderly, but she was such a looker, people thought she was a puppy. We were on a walk and turned the corner. Some douche-bag had his two 80lb. black labs in the dog park. Problem was, they were unleashed and the gate to the park was open (lazy fuck). Seconds later, the two dogs attacked and almost killed her. When I asked him for his contact information he split.
    I took her to the vet the next day-she had serious internal injuries. Animal Control and were a disgrace. They refused to give me information because of concerns of confidentiality.
    So, I spent an afternoon at City Hall, waiting on an attorney to give me this guy’s info. Guess what? Wrong owner (his girlfriend) wrong dogs (hers not his). As far as confidentiality, he and girlfriend had been on TV, radio and newspaper in an adjoining county for getting drunk, beating the shit out of each other. Oh, and his brother was indicted for soliciting a 15 yr old for sex.
    It all boiled down to two problems. Jenn, the property manager was friends with the douche bag. And OfficerE from AC is a disgrace to god fearing taxpayers. Whenever I tell my tale of misery, someone has had the same problem with her.
    My lovely dog passed away and I now have two new doggoes. One’s Havenese, the other a designer “Morkie.”
    Both are sweet and well behaved. They are also dogs. They bark, growl, poop and pee. Though small, they are capable of injuring someone. I live Bloomington, “the blue dot in the Red Sea” and support our community’s progressive compassion, but I’m over this bullshit of protecting aggressive dogs and lazy ass owners.

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  14. Ann said on May 13, 2024 at 9:58 pm

    I have a mind like a sieve, but that Ira Glass story is one I’ve never forgotten. The stupid dog also had so many allergies that the only thing he could eat was kangaroo meat.

    My Daisy used to love the dog park until not once, but twice she was bitten by another dog, of exactly the type you’d expect. It made her reactive. She loves 95% of the dogs she meets but I can never be sure so dog parks are now off limits.

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    • nancy said on May 14, 2024 at 11:23 am

      It wasn’t just kangaroo meat. The dog had to be fed meals of one protein to two carbs, all home-cooked, of course. And no matter what the combination, eventually it would develop an allergy to the meat, and they’d have to find a new one. So it started with beef/poultry, then progressed to rabbit, bison, kangaroo and presumably beyond. It had chronic IBS, which is probably behind at least some of its mental anxiety. As I recall, it had several doctors, too. If ever an animal begged for a mercy killing, it was Piney. The wife, Anaheed, seems to revel in these hard cases. She had a blog called I Love My Bad Dog for a while.

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  15. Jeff Gill said on May 14, 2024 at 8:09 am

    “Happy Mothers Day” towards any or all women that weekend has become like “Thank you for your service,” which is just an odd tick when sprayed so indiscriminately. You’re welcome and all, but I did nothing for a very short period of time in ill-fitting clothes wearing highly polished boots. That should be reserved for special occasions to those who earned some extra respect. IMHO!

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  16. alex said on May 14, 2024 at 12:03 pm

    I thought I’d get a dog again now that I’m retired, but I love my freedom too much.

    Can’t tear myself away from the NYT and WaPo live coverage of the Trump Trial.

    My property management company e-mailed me this morning that they’re filing for eviction of my tenant for nonpayment. My tenant, who had us over for a Mother’s Day brunch at her house and who has become just like family. I hope she can work it out.

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  17. Dexter Friend said on May 14, 2024 at 12:24 pm

    Pogo is a female Labrador Retriever my daughter gifted me in March, 2011 when Pogo, then named “Monkey”, was 18 months old. Pogo is now 14 1/2 years old. P-Dogg, my dog also, died in 2009 at age 12. Pogo is very friendly to people and dogs but she hates cats. Pogo is a runner, frequently has escaped by many ways, manners, tricks of hers. Cops have helped get her back to me, several times. Once she escaped and walked into a tattoo parlor on the city square.
    Now in her old age, she prefers to “go” on pee pads instead of the great outdoors. Just an hour ago, we were in the dog van (yes, I keep an old Town and Country minivan just for dog-hauling), headed for the rural field we go to twice a day, but she couldn’t make it, and she pooped in the way-back. It’s a dog van. I keep paper towels and cleaning liquids for this kind of thing, which only happens once every couple of years. No “BAD DOG!!” hurled, she had an accident. Who amongst us has never shit their pants? Do not respond to this! I mean, I certainly never did. Uh-huh.
    And I avoid those goddam pit bulls at every turn. Too many maulings, too many killings.
    My cat Friendo died in February, 2023 of old age. He was about 16. Pogo is my last pet. I have had several cats and dogs but it’s best I don’t have anymore as I am aging and not slowly.
    Here’s a viewing tip: “Sugar”, on Apple TV. Colin Farrell , that veteran actor, may have hit his zenith with this private investigator series. Check it out.

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  18. Deborah said on May 14, 2024 at 12:27 pm

    Jeff G, I agree I think it’s weird when strangers wish me a happy mothers day and it happened a lot Sunday. I often think what if I was a woman who didn’t have children and always wished I could have had them and by saying that they are bringing up a sore subject with me.

    My niece who is married but she her husband chose not to have kids, was at church on mother’s day one time and the minister asked all of the mothers to come up to the alter for a special blessing from the congregation. My niece said she was the only adult woman in the place who was still sitting in the pew. She was mortified. The minister must have realized how stigmatizing that was so the next year he asked all of the women to come forward whether they were mothers or not. It didn’t help much to my niece because the words of the blessing were all about mothers.

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  19. Bitter Scribe said on May 14, 2024 at 12:27 pm

    I first caught on to what a tendentious, contrarian, ridiculous waste of time Malcolm Gladwell is when I read his essay arguing that pit bulls aren’t really so bad and it’s utterly illogical of humans to be afraid of them, no matter how often they bite. Or something like that. I can’t remember his reasoning, such as it was.

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  20. Julie Robinson said on May 14, 2024 at 2:20 pm

    My daughter mentions that it’s Mother’s Day at church but also acknowledges that for many it’s a painful day (or simply irrelevant, if you choose not to procreate). One woman told me she didn’t even want to attend, because her only child had died. A lot of male pastors just sweep the broad brush and feel good they’ve even remembered doing something for women. As a woman, Sarah gets that it’s much more nuanced.

    We’re getting more rain, hallelujah! In a month I’ll be complaining about too much rain. Today I’m rejoicing.

    How about that NYT poll giving Kennedy 9% of the vote?

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  21. Brandon said on May 14, 2024 at 4:29 pm

    “Troublemakers” by Malcolm Gladwell.

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