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Jan. 31st, 2006

I have a bit of a routine in the morning that is pretty much centered around medication and health stuff. It involves two separate trips to the bathroom, which may seem kinda weird until you take into account that it's an issue of timing with the medications. The first trip to the bathroom is the normal wake-up functions, plus my daily weigh-in; then I go for the first round of medications (pre-meal) and waking glucose measurement, then back to the bathroom for the shower and sundries before the breakfast and second round of morning meds.

Anyway, I was walking into the kitchen to get the injection kit from the 'fridge, and there was a weird kind of chemical burning smell in the kitchen. I checked to see if the stove was on (it wasn't) or if the appliances were okay (they all seemed fine). Shrugged it off, went back to the bedroom for the first round of meds. Back to the kitchen, and the smell is stronger, like burning epoxy. Familiar smell, but I can't place it.

Then I walked into the bathroom for the second time.

A while ago, I replaced the lights in the bathroom with compact fluorescents, the kind with the screw-in bases. I had a bunch of 'em left from the Guardian of Forever and I've been using them in the most common lighting areas of the house. These are the cheap-ass fluoros, made in China by child slave labor and all. And apparently they were able to save a bit of money on tooling charges by not having any vent holes in the plastic casing that houses the electronic ballast. Which is fine during the normal operation of the bulb.

But when the fluorescent hits failure mode, it's a little different story. Fluorescents don't burn out like a regular filament bulb does. They become chaotic, and depending on how they fail, they can go into a high-current mode that overheats the electronics.

Oh, yes. The distinct smell of burned phenolic resin. Not even FR-4, but the cheapest possible material for PC boards short of recycled cardboard.

(side note: yes, I have built circuits on recycled cardboard packaging. It works in a pinch.)

Replaced the bulb. All is fine.

Oh, and Sadie pooch is back as my love dog again. I forgave her last night and had her up on the bed, and she was suitably happy.

I was frankly a little surprised at the reactions that I got on disciplining her. So by way of explanation:

  • I don't beat my dog. Ever.

  • Dogs don't speak or understand words. Trying to explain things by vocalizing them doesn't work. This is not the same thing as learning command words: one of my favorite thinjgs to teach Sadie was "come". She can differentiate between "come", "cone", "sum", and other words. That doesn't mean that the word has meaning other than a stimulus/response.

  • Dogs learn by association. They are better at making connections than a lot of people give them credit for. But they also make connections in their own way which is different than a human.

  • Shunning is a way of saying that "you have lost your place in the pack". It's the dog equivalent of taking away priveleges from a child.

  • Asserting dominance with the throat-holding thing is something that I reserve for extremely egregious and dangerous behavior. It's equivalent to threatening to rip out your dog's throat, and is ultimately seriously traumatic-- when would you ever hold a knife to your child's throat to correct their behavior?

And yes, I know that a dog is not a child. However, I have a responsibility to try and have the dog behave in a civilized manner, which she is pretty good about (other than the barking when people are at the house, I haven't figured out how to make that go away yet).

I am partly to blame because I did leave the meat on the counter where it was accessible to a dog who was ultimately bored and alone. Normally she is very good about not stealing food, but this was just too much temptation.

So all is well now.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 31st, 2006 04:57 pm (UTC)
I love how you, virtually in the same breath, assert dogs are not people (they don't understand language) and then anthropomorphize them (holding a knife to a child's throat).

Dogs may not understand language, but they understand volume and tone. Hell, I had a dog that literally understood language. You could say in a flat tone, "Go to the back door, Madchen," and she would. Same with "front door." That dog was spooky-smart, however.

With more than one pooch I've been able to point to the counter and say sternly, "Did you take the food?" and get the dopey I-did-something-wrong look from them. They got it that I was mad they took the food. However, I don't go on being mad at them or shunning them, especially if they've done something good afterwards. They won't get it that that they are being punished for stealing food when they are on a walk, for example.
Jan. 31st, 2006 05:20 pm (UTC)
Holding a knife to a child's throat was more in the way of illustration: there are a lot of people who find that image unconscionable, but think nothing of the teeth-on-the-throat thing for a dog.

Dogs understand volume and tone because they learn it by association. They are actually a lot more attuned to body language and posture. And there are dogs that can discern words to an amazing degree, but I hesitate to call it "understanding".

The dopey I-did-something-wrong look (why does that sound exclusively male?) I get whenever I ask "what did you do?", regardless of whether there has been anything done wrong (or if it turns out that it was one of the cats).

Keeping her on heel for the walk is more of a discipline thing than a punishment thing. It's re-asserting the training that she has had, reasserting my dominance in a small way. I don't need a big way.

The problem stems from the time displacement. If the dog does something bad while you're away from home, how do you in turn teach the dog that behavior is not acceptable? I don't believe that dogs don't "get" it if it's not immediate, but I think that association takes longer and you have to be more patient.
Jan. 31st, 2006 05:28 pm (UTC)
The dogs I had reacted the same way to pointing to the wrapper of whatever they ate and either asking what they did or telling them no as they did when caught in the act of eating whateveritwas they weren't supposed to eat.

Eating stuff they weren't supposed to was a common occurrance in my mom's house, because she's one of those people who wraps up dinner rolls, etc. from a restaurant and puts it in her purse.
Jan. 31st, 2006 05:09 pm (UTC)
So glad Sadie is "back in the pack". I think you handled the situation just fine ... I know Sadie is well-cared for and loved.
Jan. 31st, 2006 05:21 pm (UTC)
Very much so.
Jan. 31st, 2006 05:27 pm (UTC)
I think shunning is fine. I like to use methods my dog will understand as well. It helps her become a likable dog, which if anything ever happened to me would ultimately be in her best interest. I have problems with people who dont take the effort to learn how dogs communicate with eachother and have taken my girl to doggie school which is more like school for me, since I am taught dog speak. I am very strict with my dog. For instance I never let her walk in front of me or go through a door before I do. I tell her when the way is clear after I come through. When she knows that I am in control she feels better, barks at people less and is more congenial when meeting a new dog. Now I will have to go back to your hamburger entry and see what was said to you. huh.
depending on how much burger she ate I am not sure I wold have given my pooch a second dinner at all. Sadie's daddy is such a softie
Jan. 31st, 2006 05:56 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'm not exactly hard-line with my sweetie.

I understand about doggie school, that is exactly what my experience was-- getting to understand more how a dog thinks. Clicker training was especially good for that.
Jan. 31st, 2006 05:52 pm (UTC)
It's funny about this stuff. At work, a million controls are built in, mainly to support and minimize OCD's and I fully understand and follow through on all these controls.

with dogs, I admit, I become a softy.
Jan. 31st, 2006 05:59 pm (UTC)
Critters in general. They're rarely duplicitous. That does seem to be a purely primate trait.
Jan. 31st, 2006 08:11 pm (UTC)
aww, c'mon...
I KNOW you've tried to pill a cat. TELL me that holding a pill somewhere in your mouth or throat for 5 minutes while your human is doing everything possible to make sure you swallowed it & then going off into a corner & spitting it out ISN'T duplicitous. ;-)
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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