see: Dog Dazed by Helen Slinger
84 million dogs are now sharing public space with human beings across North America. Making the 'pet experience' positive - for the dog, the owner, and all the other living beings around - has become a topic of conversation in the companion pet world.
What can YOU do? What would you like dog owners to consider?
Dog Dazed celebrates our ever-growing love affair with dogs with eyes wide-open about the huge environmental and social impact.
From the science of why we love dogs so much to ecological ideas about what to do with all that poop (the equivalent of 153 blue whales every 24 hours in North America!) and the impact of off-leash dogs on wild birds and the neighbours, Dog Dazed explores the problems - and some solutions.
What do Great Blue Herons have to do with dogs? Too much, some say - particularly when the herons are nesting in Vancouver's Stanley Park. "People swear at me, they yell. It's shocking. The cumulative effect of all these people with all of their animals, harassing wildlife, has a big impact." - Robyn Worcester, Stanley Park Ecology Society.
The Ledbury Park Dog Association took the City of Toronto to court when the off-leash dog park was closed due to noise complaints from neighbours.
Toronto City Councillor Karen Stintz was the civic official caught in the middle. "As a politician I have learned that there are two things you never do. You never change parking restrictions, and you never get yourself involved in a dog park."
Here's a guy who has made it his mission to put the poop where the power is.
When Matt Norklun is not busy as a sought-after model (Perry Ellis, Lucky Brand Jeans, Vogue magazine) he lets the town council know, in a not-so-subtle way, that there are a lot of dog owners who don't pick up after their pooches.
Joining Matt in the 'poop vigilante' camp in Dog Dazed are Millie Gonzales and Deb Logan, who have taken both low- and high-tech approaches to the problem of somebody else's dog's poop.
FB comments: Karla Gaffney I am the "Matt Norklun" in the Canadian National Park where I live....unfortunately people do not care enough about our fragile environment or their RESPONSIBILITY as pet owners to "do the right thing". No voluntary compliance MUST equal forced compliance...period.
Dog Dazed Thanks for your post, Field Friend. Do you have tactics you use to get dog owners or politicians to pay attention?
Karla Gaffney Nothing seems to work...not even in our "protected" places. Ironically...(most) visitors are much more cognizant of being in a UNESCO World Heritage site than our residents. We have no bylaws, no enforcement and no oversight so why would folks that don't care otherwise...voluntarily comply? In my opinion the larger urban areas are doing a much better job at curbing the problem (I am convinced it is due to strict $$$ enforcement). Rural dwellers (National Park or not) "historically" hide behind the guise of "Freedom" to justify the irresponsibility of their behavior. (end of FB comments)
Broadway dog trainer Bill Berloni is the Dog Dazed expert on how to find the right dog. He picks all his stars from NYC animal shelters - they're often good dogs who became 'problem' dogs because they were in the wrong home.
Do dogs belong in the city?
Absolutely, says New York City celebrity dog trainer and animal behaviourist Bill Berloni. And in fact, urban dogs fulfil an important function. But…. “Do your homework before you get an animal” (!!)
Canada's dog population has doubled over the past decade. And, with 84 million dogs now sharing public space with human beings across the continent, conflicts over canines are breaking out all over urban North America. As boomers age and millennials stall on starting families, our demographics are going to the dogs. There are now more households with dogs than kids, and that means that the canine has clout.
Otherwise intelligent and reasonable human beings turn rabid when anyone criticizes their dog or attempts to limit his freedom. Non-dog owners, forced to defend their increasingly limited turf, howl in protest.
In DOG DAZED, filmmaker Helen Slinger wades into both camps and drills deep to discover what's fueling this insanity. With a light touch, she reveals the social and environmental impact of these furry family members. Beginning with the obvious - North American dogs deposit some 30 thousand tons of poop daily - through vicious fights over off-leash parks, to desperate bird lovers guarding precious nesting sites, Slinger takes us on a battlefield tour of the frontlines in North America's dog wars:
"I got the idea for this film after going to a meeting to personally protest limiting my own dog's off-leash freedom in a nearby watershed," says Slinger. "Woke up the next morning very embarrassed that somehow I'd forgotten about the environment. Oops! A classic example of human myopia – always rich territory for a documentary."
DOG DAZED marries classic documentary storytelling with animation created by two-time Oscar nominee Cordell Barker to straddle the line between send-up and serious journalism. Winnipeg-based Cordell Barker: "I think we ended up with a film that's a terrific blend of eye-opener and entertainment. I tried to capture the goofy free-spirited quality of a dog just being a dog. If I was a dog owner I might have attempted to engender all kinds of anthropomorphic personality to the dog but, since I've never owned one myself, it allowed me the distance and perspective to view the dog as a simple stimulus response creature - not so unlike ourselves."
DOG DAZED digs down into the science of why we're so dazed by dogs with best-selling author Alexandra Horowitz (Inside of a Dog).
Horowitz calls "explosive" the combination of the dog's olfactory (smell) prowess and its unique ability to read us. "Dogs wind up being expert readers of our attention and it all starts with eye contact. They're looking us in the eyes in the way no other animal is [my cat does! - E.K.], no other domesticated animal and no wild animal. And then they seem to have learned how we're using our eyes."
And since science has now proven that we get a hormone rush when we look into our dog's eyes, similar to what we experience looking at a human baby, it's small wonder that people will go to the wall for their dogs, valuing them more than wildlife and more than the neighbours.
DOG DAZED crisscrosses the continent, introducing viewers to a fascinating cast of eclectic dog lovers – a couple who share their bed with a 220 pound Mastiff;
a couple who went for legal joint custody – of their dog;
a woman who will be interred with her dog.
Viewers will also be catapulted into the middle of skirmishes between dog lovers and non-dog people in Vancouver, San Francisco and Toronto – where the fight over a tiny off-leash park had people at each other's throats and cost the city more than $100,000.
We also see some out-of-the-box solutions to the tons of poop - from DNA testing dogs at a housing complex to turning dog doo into electricity. And from New York City, world-famous theatrical dog trainer Bill Berloni (Annie, The Wizard of Oz, Legally Blonde) shares tips on choosing the right dog to reduce conflict – for you and the dog.
DOG DAZED celebrates our love affair with canines and encourages a new relationship that values the environment, and the neighbours, as much as the dog.
DOG DAZED is written and directed by Helen Slinger and produced by Maureen Palmer and Helen Slinger for Bountiful Films in association with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
see: Dog Dazed by Helen Slinger