Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The militarization of everything: dog collars

Been rereading William Gibson lately, including his 2010 novel Zero History, which is partly about the militarization of fashion. The io9 review said, "It's not long before you realize that Zero History is about the way military culture has permeated every aspect of our lives, from art to fashion and advertising."

So it has me noticing stuff. For example the big recent California Watch feature on military surplus gifts to local police agencies. There, the military comes across as absurdly, carelessly rich, a potlatch patron with overflowing hands. Leading to worries, of course, about what kind of surplus will get used how, and on whom, but that's another subject. Right now I'm talking about fashion.

Because the other thing I've noticed lately, and can't stop noticing, is the front of the Late Spring/Early Summer 2012 catalog for a pet and veterinary supply company called Jeffers Pet. That cover is featuring a thing called the "M1-K9 Adjustable Collar for Big Dogs". Which calls to mind a line from an earlier Gibson novel: "They spoke to him mainly, as did the window of any army surplus store, of male fear and powerlessness."

The M1-K9 claims to be "made of military grade, pistol belt webbing" with a "'tactical silent' leash" and "military issue dog tag with silencer." Is this item for a real beast or a fantasy weapon?

Whether or not the M1-K9 is a good product -- and I have no idea, maybe it's quite nice -- its marketing campaign is beyond stupid. It encourages a mentality actively harmful to the dogs whose necks are at issue here. Or what kind of treatment do you suppose a dog gets from a man who views it as a substitute for genitals?


  1. How do you treat your genitals?

  2. Point taken, and it would be nice to think of these dogs as being properly washed, nourished, petted, played with, etc. but seriously I don't think so.

    The issue might in fact partly be, on some deep level, that these kinds of guys aren't on good terms with their own selves either, genitals included.

    I used to volunteer representing people at hearings whose dogs had been accused of biting. Some of the bites happened because basically good dog owners had to live in circumstances that made their dogs anxious and defensive. Other dog owners, however, clearly viewed their dogs as extensions of themselves, hence "cared for" the dogs only in ways that helped them immediately to think well of themselves, e.g. making a show of kind words for the dog and boasting of the dog's strength, but not feeding it properly, leaving it chained on gravel, leaving ringworm untreated, etc. Sad to see when it happened.

    1. Certainly unfortunate that some dogs are mistreated. M1-K9 Collars creed of "Power, Discipline, Excellence" promotes a possitive message that kind of says "hey, it's cool to have a big awesome dog, but train it your dog and make it excellent."

  3. looks awesome!

  4. I found this blog while I was searching for M1-K9 collars. I am confused about the correlation between these collars and the way you think the dogs are treated. Are you trying to say that the people (or just men) who buy these collars are the type of people that want mean dogs, raise mean dogs, or even abuse his dog? I hope that is not what you are trying to say and that I misunderstand your point of view on this product.
    I am trying to find a great collar for my dog and don't want to send a bad message about him to others while I walk him. He is a very large dog with a massive neck including the extra skin/fur since he is a mix of flock guardian. In my search for a new collar, I have found that the 2"+ wide leather collars are very expensive ($80 - $120 for the wide collars). You see, any collar less than 1" wide is not going to last very long on him. He will try to pull me when he smells something (we live in the country and there is all kinds of critters for him to smell). I need a very durable collar for my dog and the cheap nylon collars won't hold up for him either since he is walked in the rain as well and they fray after a few months of wear.
    I recently saw the M1-K9 collars and became interested in the product. I want a wide collar (thin collars tend to cut into his extra skin/fur) that can take wear and tear without compromise on the quality. I need a product that won't break or allow escape.
    I don't see this collar as something that will feed some macho ego or mean that I will abuse my dog or take care of him any less. I see this collar as a well made product that can keep my dog under my control. I don't think I would have to worry about the metal breaking apart or the material fraying. I think that this collar is a lot less ominous looking than the wide leather collars with spikes (which is just about the only wide leather collars sold in my area; therefore, I have to spend more for what I want due to shipping costs).
    I just want to make sure that I am not sending the wrong message to others about what type of dog I have or what type of person I am. I just want to protect my dog from the perils of what could happen if he escaped his collar. I want people to think I am the good owner that I am. I don't want people to think that I am probably not a good owner because I chose the cheaper yet similar quality product than if I chose I plain wide leather collar at three times the cost. I might just be the exception to the point since I am a female wanting to buy a M1-K9 collar for my Great Pyr/husky mix (imagine trying to use one of those rolled leather collars or 1" nylon collars on a big necked, puller like him). I also want it put out there that my dog is feed twice a day, given fresh water several times a day, given a large, fenced yard to run around, given a wonderful dog house that is placed in shade and protected from the rain, he is allowed inside when he pleases, sleeps indoors, lives with three other dogs, gets treats and rawhides, has his own dog bed, gets his shots and vetted, gets a bath regularly, walked for about a quarter mile to a half mile every single day, petted and loved, and he gets to play whenever he wants.
    Again, I hope that I did misunderstand your point of view. Hey, maybe you can even recommend a better collar to me than the M1-K9 collar.

  5. That seems fair. I'm sure it is a perfectly good functional product. It was mostly the advertising copy that bothered me.

    FWIW I'm no expert on dog collars but have had several good experiences with the Jeffers Pet catalog.

    1. I glanced at Jeffers site and they have really great prices. Maybe a leather leash/collar combo from them won't cost so much, hoping to only spend $60 or so for both. Thanks for letting me know about them!!!!
      I have found that big dog products do tend to advertise with dogs that are in the act of being aggresive/pulling. I am not the biggest fan of that type of advertisement, but it does send a message that the product can stand up to the wear and tear of the power a big dog can have. I do not like the advertisements where the all their dogs are schutzhund trainging. I fear those products might send the wrong message.
      In my search yesterday, I found some type of collar that had a handle on top, and they called it an agitator. I do not agree with that product because all their pictures had the dogs being held by that handle in a position that resembled dog fighting tactics. I felt that mostly people that fight dogs would want those collars. It was disgusting.
      I can see where an advertisement can bother some where powerful breeds are concerned. I have noticed in the big dog products that there is a fine line between proper products for the size/strength of a dog and what people want for an image or use to mistreat dogs. I have even stopped taking my dogs to the dog park because of people that like to have macho image with their powerful breeds but lack of responsibility. Two of my dogs ended up getting into a fight with a mastiff because the owner was nowhere near his dog. His dog kept walking up to my dogs in a very dominate manner and standing over them. While we were leashing our dogs to remove them from the park, his dog decided to stand inches from one of my dog's face. Before I could grab my dog back, he bit towards the mastiff. The mastiff went to fight back, but we had already pulled our dog back and had him secured. The mastiff turned toward our big dog and made an aggresive stance. My other dog responded in the same manner, but was not yet leashed which cause the actual fight. Luckily, my dog was able to get on top and just held the mastiff until I was able to pull my dog back and secure him. Neither dog was hurt or even scratched. This is when the owner came walking up. I must state sagin, walking! He stated that if he thought that the fight would have been bad that he would have been there faster!!! The dog area is less than an acre. How much worse should it have gotten before he would have done something about his dog? If he would have been responsible, he would have been close enough to his dog to prevent him from trying to dominate other dogs. As we left, we noticed all the other dogs leaving as well becuase the fight made the other dogs react towards the mastiff in a similar manner. I was embarassed that my dogs were in a fight because it could have been prevented. I was trying to do the right thing and leave the park before the fight, but was not quick enough to leash the dogs and remove them from the situation. This man never seemed to care how his dog was setting off every other dog in the park. He is just like the men you described earlier. He even stated that this is not the first time that has happened!
      I guess I also want to clarify that I use these large collars only for walking my dog. He keeps a very thin rolled leather collar on at all times with all his tags. I have even seen M1-K9 comment on FB that they do not leave these collars on their dogs all the time either. The thick collars can rub the fur in the wrong direction or it can rub it off and irritate the skin.