Thursday, August 15, 2013

More on dogs...

I mentioned a few weeks ago that Iqaluit has a dog problem and, well, here’s all the proof you need of the problem and the attitudes in town about it. The story itself is fairly interesting and while I normally tell people to never, ever read the comments section, this is worth it if only to show the attitudes of some people in town. A few people insult and attack Annabella Piugattuk using some fairly brutal language (some of those comments have since been removed). Then again, there's also a lot of anti-qaalunat sentiment brewing there that never fails to disturb me.
I swear to god, this town sometimes…
Do I agree with what she’s saying in the story? Not all of it. I think trying to ban all non-husky breeds is…misguided. Understandable, but misguided.
Look, Annabella just went through a horrific event. Some lunatic trained a pit bull to attack people, waved it around like it was a gun and then finally unleashed it to attack. She was brutally savaged for 20 minutes. Her small kids saw the attack happen and were traumatized by it. Coming out the other end of something like that you either curl up into a ball and never want to think about it again, or you’re going to make damn sure nothing like that can ever happen again. So good for her for speaking out. I think it’s commendable.
But trying to ban non-husky breeds from Nunavut. No, that’s not going to work. Although technically she does have a bit of a leg to stand on. If I recall from my Department of Environment days Nunavut does have legislation in place to ban all non-native species from the territory. There might be an argument to be made that any kind of dog other than traditional Inuit sled dogs should be prohibited.
(It’s a sure thing that cats, hamsters, snakes, tropical birds and other critters I know people in town have shouldn’t be here by that definition.)
But the problem is that ship has sailed. Non-sled dogs have been coming here for decades and it’s been a flood in the last decade. And those dogs have often bred, hence the “Iqaluit specials” – part husky, part whatever – that are often seen running around town. Such a ban is impossible. Besides, it’s not just non-Inuit who like dogs other than huskies. I’ve seen my share of Inuit babying their shi tzus. Good luck trying to get them to give those dogs up.
The city is going to have some consultations in the fall and I suspect the quick and dirty solution is going to be to ban pit bulls. I don’t really agree with that. It’s the human that’s the problem in 95 per cent of cases, not the dog. I’d like to see much stricter restrictions on owning dogs. I mentioned on Twitter about creating a two-tier ownership system. One for “regular” breeds, the other for “at risk” breeds. “Regular” breeds get a pretty straight forward licencing process. “At risk” would be much more stringent.
For one thing, you would need a special, and expensive, import permit to bring such a dog in. You would need proof that the dog had obedience training before it was allowed in the territory. Owners would be required to take a class in Iqaluit on the proper handling and care of these kinds of dogs. Any kind of incident involving those dogs leads to the dog being seized and a heavy fine for the owner. Those kinds of things.
Here’s the catch, though. I would list huskies in that category. Most of the dog related incidents in town, and the territory, aren’t from pit bulls. They’re from huskies. I think I have a reasonable idea there, but good luck getting anyone to go along with listing huskies as an “at risk” breed and require additional precautions before you’re allowed to own one. People would riot.
The city is looking at doing something, and it’s a start. But most of it is going to be with the people who own the dogs, and not the dogs themselves. That’s going to take a fairly significant public awareness campaign, including involving schools on what’s involved in taking care of your pets. And it will take years to accomplish. Plus stricter regulations. I think it’s necessary, but there are so many necessary things up here, I’m not sure if this will actually happen. I guess we’ll see...
Last Five
1. E. Watson - The Decemberists
2. Rolling in the deep - Adele
3. Both hands (live) - Ani DiFranco*
4. Family tree - TV on the Radio
5. Pomegranate daffodil - Hawksley Workman

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Running for a change

I've mentioned several times on the blog over the last year or so that I'm trying to lose weight and get into better shape. Now, for the most part, I think I've succeeded. I'm down 65 pounds since February of 2012, which is great and I'm proud of that. Granted, I'm also a touch frustrated that I've been about the same weight since Christmas since the goal was to lose 80 pounds. But I've learned not to complain about that too much as I get lectures when I do.

There's no magic to's the same way you always do these things. Move more, eat less and better. Stick to it, but don't beat yourself up too much when you slip. But do beat yourself up a bit to make sure you don't get into the habit of slipping up, if you know what I mean.

The eating has been the harder part. The routine of going to gym is pretty straightforward. I've been going five days a week this summer, what with Cathy back in Newfoundland, I find myself with extra time on my hands. However, the gym I go to has a "fitness challenge" ever year. You can either walk or run 1 km, 5 km or 10 km. Last year, I laughed at the idea. This year, feeling particularly masochistic, I decided to try the 5 km run.

A couple of things worth noting here. I am not a runner. I've never seen the appeal. Even at the gym, I rarely use the treadmill, preferring the elliptical when I have to get my cardio. And as has been pointed out to me, these are very different things. I just don't see the point. Eight months of the year it's too cold to go running, and the rest of the time you're running to escape the mosquitoes. Although one of the members told me on Saturday that with the right gear, you could easily go running in the winter. Why, she did it once when it was -32C.

Lovely woman. Obviously quite mad, but lovely all the same.

No, the runner in my family is my dad. There was a time there, back in his late 40s and early 50s, when dad would get up, go to work as a letter carrier, walk probably 10 km or more a day, come home, take the dog for a walk, come back home, run for 10 km, take the dog for another walk and then relax for a bit.

Lovely man. Obviously quite mad, but lovely all the same.

The thing being, I've known a few people into running. Most of them are quite mad. I may have my quirks (If you're in Newfoundland you can undoubtably hear a laughing noise from Mount Peak right now, where Cathy is summering), but quite mad is probably not one of them.

Still, in a fit of momentary insanity I decided to give it a try. Two years ago there would have been uncertainty if I could walk 5k without some damage. Even last year, I was down about 45 pounds, which still put me nicely overweight, so I could have walked it, but there was no way I was going to run it. But now I was curious, which is always a dangerous thing.

So I show up at Sylvia Grinnell Park on a cool, dreary, slightly windy day. Which is a good thing as the mosquitoes are slightly less carnivorous. The 10k run actually had prizes, but I wasn't kidding myself. They would have found my body in a ditch. I checked with friends who run (lovely people. All quite mad) and they told me 35-40 minutes was a decent time for a first time runner at 5k. So I was aiming for a little below that.

The run wasn't too bad, actually. I wasn't setting any speed records and there was a few moments where I was concerned that those running the 10k might finish before I got my five in. So that spurred me on a bit. But I managed to finish the race in about 32 minutes, which I'm pleased with. I don't have the exact time or where I place because, well, this isn't exactly a professional road race. But I'll take 32 minutes. I'll have to try and top that next year.

Oh yes, let's not be crazy here. I know I can do it, which is cool and all, but I'm not going to take it up or anything. I'm still not convinced that it's actually bad for your body. The aches and pains today were not unexpected. I used different muscles than normal, after all. My left knee deciding it was going to work sporadically throughout the day was an unpleasant surprise, however. Also, according to my FitBit, I burn more calories on the elliptical in 30 minutes than I do running for 30 minutes. Some clever person might come along and explain how that's not true, but it's what my gizmo is telling me, so I'm choosing to believe it for the moment.

No, the only running I see myself doing in the future is trying to get away from the mosquitoes, but it was an interesting experiment...

Last Five
1. President of what? - Death Cab for Cutie
2. Gardening at night - REM
3. Radio fly - Joel Plaskett Emergency*
4. Stories - Katie Baggs
5. Knickerbocker lin/Drowsy Maggie - The Flash Girls