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D is for: Dawn of the Dog People

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
November 21, 2002


"Please pass this 11th hour message on to anyone who is affected by it and willing to listen. Bob Nanninga is an environmentalist but he is not a dog person." — Laurie Michaels

As most people in coastal north County know, I recently attempted to win a seat on the Encinitas City Council. Although finishing out of the money, I ran a great race, made a lot of friends, expanded my sphere of influence, and had the honor of working with an incredible campaign team, of varied political persuasions. Best of all I learned enough to keep me busy for the next couple of years. It's all good.

There is just one thing I need to comment on before I put Campaign 2002 to bed. As far as local politics go this was a gentile exercise in municipal madness. As far as mudslinging goes, Encinitas was more about flower slinging, so for the most part everyone was civil. O.K. maybe painting an Environmental journalist as a pro-growth Judas was not the kindest thing, but hey it's politics, and I'm a big boy. But why did they play the cat card? Have they no shame?

The attack of the dog advocate occurred the weekend before the November 5th election, a gift I will cherish forever, was distributed to humans while their canine companions were busy sniffing and chasing balls, at an Encinitas off leash park. This black and white flyer, was dog on cat and a complete misrepresentation of reality. She called me a cat owner. How wrong is that?

First of all, let me be perfectly clear, I do not own cats. Animal exploitation aside, the cats I live with have no concept of ownership. I am merely seen as one of the primates who open the door and provides nourishment. I'm sure there are some people who actually believe they own a cat, the cat knows otherwise. The three felines who share our home are no different.

Chantrelle Uhura was rescued from a dumpster in San Marcos, and Mako adopted after being abandoned in Solana Beach. Mirugui, a veteran of the coyote wars, moved to Encinitas, with his mother and womb mates, when I did. And all are free to find meatier pastures. Cats, being smart, know a good set up when they see it. Again, I do not own cats. But I will claim three as family.

When I stopped laughing at the absurd attempt at character assassination, I realized I was receiving a crash course in one issue politics. I also learned there is a pantheon of Dog Gods, but that is another column. When I come up with a full list of canine deities I will share it with anyone who is affected by it and willing to listen.

Perhaps there is a distinction needing to be recognized. I don't own animals, because as sentient being they are not mine to own. It's that simple. Now do I think dogs need places to run free and socialize with other dogs? Of course I do. Do I also think dogs are content with warm and loving relationships with caring humans? Absolutely. If caring humans say unleashed people and dog zones are needed, who am I to argue? I am a cat person after all.

In my defense let me just say that, where I am not, nor have I ever been a "Dog Person" I do consider myself a life-long member of Friends Regarding Everything Dog (FRED). As a Fred I am respectful of all thing dog, recognizing his or her right to exist in harmony with the natural world. I like dogs in general, and small squatty ones in particular. I also understand that there is no better friend than a happy dog.

Having no fear of dogs, I must admit some "self prescribed" dog owners are particularly nasty. Thankfully they are a rare breed, and don't represent the entire species.

Although I have to admit it was an act of providence that this alphabet series would coincide with D going to the dogs, or to be more accurate the dog people. Whatever the case, now that the dog issue has been walked, this column will resume the regional conversation a run for office excluded me from addressing.

In conclusion: Dogs are cool. Cats are cool. Parks are cool. Dog parks are cool. And most of the time, most people are cool.

Now if we could only free the llamas.

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