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The new issue of BARk magazine arrived at the house this week. If you're not familiar with BARk, lets just say that it seems to be fashionable reading for the human alt.dog crowd out there. At least the humans in my house seem to think it has merit. So I figured I'd better offer up an overview for y'all in case it starts showing up in your house.

bark.jpgFact is, there's much to love about BARk. For starters, they tend to look down on electronic collars and fences, choke chains, that whole Monks-of-New-Skeet "alpha roll" thing, and, in general, what they call "negative reinforcement" (and what I call "hitting the dog"). So that's cool. And while they still have a lot to learn about the relationship between dogs and humans, they do discourage the language of subjugation, preferring the colonial term "dog caretaker" to the slave-connotations of "dog owner." And you gotta love the fact that the more obsessive contributors even insist that humans need to cook meals for dogs every day instead of dishing crap out of a bag or a can. Now that's phat-and-a-half. But be very careful here, since the more extreme of these diet-obsessed humans are just offering up fad diets that profess that meat is bad for you and that you should be fed a steady diet of quinoa and amaranth. (If you don't know what quinoa is, or how to pronounce it, then you are one very lucky dog.)

Admittedly, BARk wastes a lot of time arguing about issues like whether or not we should be "allowed" to drink out of the toilets (like they have anything to say about it), but the key is that from a human perspective this magazine is so dog obsessive that the people in your house are going to feel just terribly guilty that they're not doing enough to provide for your needs. This is something you can work with when it comes to training your humans. Just remember "the look."

On the negative side, BARk seems to be almost totally focused on town dogs. I'll just bite my tongue and skip my diatribe about latch-key dogs, walking on a leash and being told you can't bark when the fools next door are free to yell "SHUT UP" at you all afternoon. I can't imagine living in a world where humans pick up your shit, wrap it in plastic and carry it around. Gross. Remind them about THAT the next time they try to say you can't drink out of the toilet.

And if you judge a magazine by its advertising, then as soon as you see BARk arrive in your home, destroy it. Chew it, scratch it, piss on it, hide it, bury it, whatever works. Just get rid of it. The advertising is absolutely, totally, disgusting. Dog hats, dog sweaters, dog shorts, dog underwear, dog capes, dog booties, dog jewelry, dog evening wear, dog beach wear, dog rain coats, dog diapers, dog condoms, ad infinitum, plus dog therapists and dog massagists and dog psychics and dog touchers and dog urns and a whole pack of humans that want to paint your picture and a whole bunch of politically correct dog toys. (I already mentioned the quinoa, didn't I?) It's like just when you think you're starting to get a handle on human intelligence, they exhibit behavior that's totally inscrutable. But that's why we love 'em, right?

So the bottom line is that if you've trained your bipeds to be media savvy about advertising, and you've convinced them that political correctness is a human trait that has nothing to do with dogs, then BARk is probably as good a dog magazine as you can have around the home. Of course nothing can beat the New York Times when you've got diarrhea and it's raining outside.

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