"Untrainable" Dog or Unwilling Human? #18

#canine canine connection Apr 29, 2024

Kristi Noem, the governor of South Dakota, admitted (bragged?)in her book to shooting her young dog Cricket, a 14-month-old wire-haired pointer pup, in the face and killing her. She also wrote that she killed her unnamed, uncastrated goat the same day, in the same gravel pit. 

While I can’t imagine anyone listening to this podcast would ever do such a thing, is there something we all can learn from this cruel and violent act?

Are there questions we can ask ourselves about how we’re thinking about our own dogs?

Are there areas where WE can do better by our dogs?


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Hello. Today I'd like to talk about something that is very serious and very sad, and, and I think it's important to talk about. Also, I just wanna give you a little bit of a trigger warning because we will be talking about a violent incident against a 14 month old puppy and a goat. Okay? Now, for those of you in the US,

you might automatically know what I'm talking about because it was very big in the news the last few days. I'm recording this at the end of April, 2024, and it's, it's relevant at any point. So let me give you the background. So South Dakota, which is a state in the us, has a government named Christie Nome, and she recently published a book and a news outlet got hold of a pre-publication copy,

an advanced copy of the book. And they were quite alarmed at reading that. She discusses an incident that happened, she said about 20 years ago, where she had, she has a number of dogs, and she was living on a ranch, and she was taking the dogs hunting. This particular dog was a wire-haired pointer, 14 months old. So kind of like just a puppy,

because they take a bit longer. Those larger dogs take a little bit longer to mature. In any case, 14 month old dog is an adolescent. They, and the wire-haired pointers, most people know those kind of hunting dogs are bred to have endless energy, to be really enthusiastic, to be really energetic. Again, 14 months old. Most dogs have difficulty controlling their natural drives.

Okay? So what ended up happening, so for those of you who don't know, and again, this a bit of this is can be triggering, so be mindful, you might wanna turn this off, but she didn't like the dog. She actually said she hated the dog, the dog. She decided that going on a hunt, a pheasant hunt with older dogs,

might help teach the, the 14 month old dog whose name was Cricket female named Cricket. She also had, she used a shock collar, what she called a, an electronic collar, you know, it's designed to give shocks to the dog's neck. And she had that on the dog, and she went with older dogs thinking that that would somehow magically help her dog behave.

And quite the opposite happened. Cricket, the puppy was very exuberant, running around, chasing all the birds. And she was, you could tell from her what she wrote. She was very, Christy no, was very frustrated. And then she stopped somewhere, I guess near a neighbor or, or somewhere. And the dogs were in the truck, and she somehow,

cricket got out of the truck. Now, I don't know how. And then there were, the neighbor's, chickens were there, and Cricket went and started chasing and killing their neighbor's chickens again, natural instinct, okay? And what, what Christie didn't understand, because she writes in the book that how she was like an assassin, how she would kill one and then move on to the next one and kill that one,

et cetera. Now, for those of you who know about animal behavior, that is not unusual. I, I remember reading about a mountain lion attack that happened with domestic animals here in California. And, you know, someone had, had said that where I think they were, they might've been llamas or alpacas or sheep, something like that. And they were surprised that the mountain lion didn't just kill and eat one animal,

but the, the, the animals were in a, a pen. And so they, they were contained and the animal like would kill and then kill the next one and kill the next one. Now, that happens because normally in the wild, they would not be faced with that kind of a, a situation. In other words, if they're chasing a herd of animals,

right? If a mountain lion was chasing a herd of animals, for example, they would catch one and the others would run off. But in our life, in our civilian life, right? What, what do we do? Our domestic animals are kept confined. So like with cricket, she had access to all these chickens, okay? And I'm not saying they were confined in a small pen,

I don't know how, what, what the situation was, but they weren't as fast as a, as a, a young pointer. So she was able to go after them. And to me, this is about managing the environment. Oh, so, so to finish the story, the very, very sad, unfortunate story is that Christine Nome then,

I guess went to grab her dog. And the dog either tried or actually did bite her, but showed aggression to her. And she was very upset about that, and decided to drag the dog to the gravel pit and shoot the dog in the face and kill the dog. And that is so egregious that I don't even have words for that, but what I want.

So then, and, and by the way, the, the, the slaying doesn't stop there. You know, she apologized to the neighbor, wrote them a check supposedly for the chickens, and then did this to her dog because she felt that the dog was untrainable, okay? And she didn't like the fact that the dog was aggressive and quote unquote untrainable.

Then she also had a goat, a male unc castrated goat that she didn't like. The goat was smelly. Well, guess what? Unrated male goats often do, sm have a, have an odor to them. So I don't understand why the goat wasn't castrated by a veterinarian. She also said that the goat had a habit of knocking her children down,

okay? That's called lack of management of a situation. So she went ahead and dragged that animal, that poor goat to the gravel pit, the same gravel pit where she had just killed her dog and shot that goat. Unfortunately, the goat jumped apparently when she, the first shot went off. So the dog, the goat was very badly injured, but not dead yet,

and she had to go back to her truck and reload. So it's a horrible, horrible situation. And what's alarming is that Kristy Nome felt that this would show her sense of leadership, that she's able to do difficult pain, you know, painful things and just get them done, because she said that's reality. That's life on a farm, that's life on a ranch.

Well, I, I really beg to differ because if we look at what she was doing, right, number one, to me, she exhibited a complete lack of understanding of animal behavior, okay? That's number one. So, so to me, that's nothing to be proud of. It's something then you would want to educate yourself, but, you know,

sometimes you don't know what you don't know. But that's number one. So the fact that she felt she had to resort to such horrible violence and cruelty against her animals, that's number one. And also using shock collars, okay? That is violence. And that to me is ignorance of not knowing that there's other ways of training, okay? She also took a dog who wasn't prepared to go on a hunt,

and so she set that dog up for failure, okay? And then got annoyed. And the other thing I wanna point out is the shock collar will often lead to aggression. I've, I've never used one. I am, that is not my style. And I am, you know, I do positive reinforcement training and I like to educate myself on dog's behavior,

but I've seen from other people that oftentimes perfectly well adjusted dogs become aggressive after they've been shocked a number of times. Okay? So, and number one, you know, and not managing the environment, letting the dog get out of the truck, putting the dog in a situation where she wasn't prepared for it, you know, the dog wasn't prepared. Also the same thing with the goat,

right? These, these are just bad choices that Christi Nome made extremely poor choices. Okay? And the other thing I wanna say, I mentioned earlier about how the puppy wasn't making moral choices when she was killing the chickens, that, that she was following her instincts. But Christie Nome had the opportunity to make a moral choice, a better choice, a more educated,

humane choice. She made the, the choice that obviously fit with her identity. So that's, that's that. Hopefully she's changed in the last 20 years, I don't know. But, but that to me is very, very alarming that that's what she felt was the right thing to do. The other thing was, you know, the unwilling unwillingness to ask for help,

she felt because she didn't have the training and the tools and the expertise to help her dog, and to help her goat live more harmoniously with her and her family, that she was the final word. Okay? So she had that unwillingness to ask for help, right? To, to think outside of her own limited knowledge, okay? You know, to me it's like,

again, she was assuming her dog was untrainable because she lacked the skills to train the dog. Okay? So, okay, so this may be a really extreme example because I doubt that if you're listening to this podcast that you would ever do any of those things that she did, okay? I doubt that very much. But what I find it helpful is when I see extreme cases like this,

you know, cases where it's so incredibly sad and, you know, for the animals and even for the person, because they're, they're limiting themselves so much. They're extreme examples. But then we have to ask ourselves, where in our own lives are we doing this? Where are we doing some form, some variations, some degree of these things, okay?

For example, maybe we have unrealistic expectations of our dogs, you know, we maybe we're, we're trying to get them to fulfill a role that they're not suited for. Okay? That happens a lot. I've seen people do that. Like they, they want, they, they select a dog because they want to do a specific activity or specific sport with that dog.

Just say, for example, you really have dreams of becoming an agility champion, but that's not suitable for your dog for any number of reasons, perhaps, you know, physical ability, even emotional ability to handle crowds, to handle lots of noisy dogs, to handle the excitement, maybe that doesn't suit your dog, and instead You persist. Now, that's not to say that some dogs that appear to be suited for,

for an activity or a sport can't be humanely and positively, you know, taught to be more comfortable in that sit, those situations. I'm not saying that, but sometimes it comes to a, to a place where you recognize, right? And maybe you get outside professional help, and your veterinarian may indicate too that the dog isn't, you know, has certain issues that may be jumping and galloping and doing all those things repeatedly or not in the dog's best interests.

So it's understanding that, right? So we have to ask ourselves, are we trying to push our dog into a, an environment, into an activity only because we want it, and not because it's something that the dog wants to do and that the dog is well suited for. Okay? And then the another thing we have to ask ourselves, where in our lives are we not treating our dog as an individual?

So again, Christie Nome, she obviously had other hunting dogs. I'm not sure if there were wired haired pointers or not, but she was assuming that this dog cricket should be just like the other dogs. So where in our lives are we doing that? Are we assuming that the dog we're sharing our life with, should be like other dogs we've had or,

or other dogs we've known about maybe of that particular breed or something like that? So again, that's a good question to ask ourselves, because a lot of times we're doing that unconsciously, we're putting, you know, expectations on our dog that the dog should be a certain way, because that's how other dogs acted, okay? And it's important that we treat our dogs as the individuals that they are,

okay? And how are we not managing our environment to set our dogs and ourselves up for success? Because again, I think the governor was an extreme example of setting her animals up for failure. And so where in our life are we not managing the environment? Because that is a big part of it. We don't want our dogs practicing behaviors that are not aligned with harmony.

In other words, that, that we don't want, that we'd rather them not do. How are we allowing them to practice those behaviors? Just because we have not taken the time to manage the environment for them? Okay? So that's important. And how are we consciously or not consciously, you know, unconsciously not thinking outside the box and asking for help when we need it,

not looking into other resources that can help our dogs physically as well as emotionally helping them live their best lives. But, you know, maybe we say we want that and we do want that, but we're not willing to expand our sense of what's possible, of how we could have other tools, other resources that can help ourselves and our dogs. So I think these are good questions for all of us to ask ourselves.

So, and again, I'm assuming everyone here would never do the things that were mentioned in that book, but again, these are good questions to ask ourselves. Okay, well, thank you, thank you so much for joining me in this very uncomfortable but very important discussion. And if you're watching this on YouTube, please leave a comment. Let me know how maybe you would do things differently or,

you know, maybe how you are managing your environment for your dog, how you are looking for your dog's individuality, how you are respecting that, you're expecting that their, their desire to have fun as well, you know, as well as your own desire to have fun with them. And yeah, any comment I'd love, I'd love to read it.

And if you're not watching this on YouTube, maybe you're listening on the, on a podcast app, feel free to email me Mary at mary Debono dot com. I'd love to hear from you. Okay, thank you so much, and again, I appreciate you and I look forward to talking to you again soon. Bye for now.