17 October

The Call-In Show That Nobody Called: Bring It On!

by Jon Katz

How does it feel to host a call-in show that nobody calls?

I can tell you. Only person called my new two-hour show debut on WBTN  radio today, we chatted about her congenial Chihuahua for a few minutes. I didn’t want to let her go.

The  show was exciting for me. But I’ll be  honest, we were not exactly swamped with calls.

Thankfully Thomas “Maestro” Toscano and I clicked anyway, we are both troopers, and we talked easily with one another – good chemistry. And we had some fine discussions about dogs and horses, training and communicating.

I had a nasty head cold and a cough, my voice was just about giving out by the time we got to 3 p.m. I sounded like Froggy The Magic Twanger.

I could talk about dogs and animals for me, but I did miss the interaction with other people, animal people are always fun to talk to. People stir things up, I get sick of myself when I talk that long, even me.

I can talk about animals for days on end, but would rather not.

I will admit, though, that I was surprised that nobody else called. On our pilot show last week, there were non-stop calls, and I got a lot of e-mail from people who listened last week today.

They said they loved the show.

So this is show business, yes?

There’s no business like show business,

Like no business I know

The opening when your heart beats like a drum

The closing when the customers don’t come

You’re broken hearted, but you go on!”

Ethel Merman, There’s No Business Like Show Business.

I read a bunch of e-mail questions, that was engaging and interesting for me.

I enjoyed it, I think it went well.

And I well understand that anything in life worth doing is difficult, there are few instant triumphs in the world. The game is on.

I did a lot of research and homework, I hope it was helpful to the people who did listen. I have no idea how many people that might be.

We talked about everything from dog vaccinations to controlling dog barks to the New York Carriage Horses and the elephants in the circuses.

I was puzzled by the lack of calls but in no way discouraged. I do love a challenge.

It’s been a long time since the station had any callers at all, and I know it will take hard work, perseverance and commitment to make the show successful.

The station’s equipment is quite old and frail, their staff is thin and overworked, and they are, to say the least, underfunded.

I was wearing new headphones – the old ones were disintegrating – that a blog supporter purchased on the WBTN Amazon Wish List over the weekend (thanks!) and the Wish List has already sold out twice. The Wish List will be re-stocked tomorrow (Thursday). Check on it if you can, they need everything.

While I was on the air, the Post Office arrived with a big stack of Amazon boxes.

So people out there are paying attention and donating,  but perhaps were shy about calling.

Or perhaps I’m dreaming to think this can work. We’ll see.

At one point in the show, Tommy, the Executive Director (he was a child prodigy) looked at me and he beamed at the new headphones: “this,” he said,”is the beginning of the re-building of the station.”

I hadn’t looked at it that way, but I have been spoiled at the easy attention I’ve always gotten, the crowds I could always draw.

I’ve got some work to do. I want the show to work.

I know the subject is good, I know I can speak well about it, and I know there is enormous interest. We just have to put it all together. And that is not going to happen in a day.

There’s always next week.

It did occur to me that the call-in lines may not have been working or were inadvertently turned off – you never know there. But that was perhaps rationalizing –  I’m pretty sure there was only one person in America who called me.

Look on the bright side: more than 350 million new listeners out there.

This broadcast is a great challenge for me, the station has been nearly left for dead. I appreciate a challenge, and I have no illusions that just because I host a radio show, people will instantly come.

But there are 75 million owned dogs in America, and more cats. This is the right broadcast.

I have to work hard and roll with the ups and downs, and there will be many, no matter what happens. I am absolutely committed to work hard to make this work, I believe the world very much needs a program like this, and once people get wind of it, it will work – hopefully.

And the station is wild about the financial and Amazon Wish List donations that have been coming in steadily. It is good to know you are all out there, whether you call me or not.

This is a good cause, and I will stick with. Next Week, Wednesday, 1 to 3.  You can call at 866 406-9286 or e-mail me your animal questions to jon@bedlamfarm.com. And you can live stream the show next week here.

I’ll  remind you.


17 October

Stewardship: A Good Life For Bud, For Dogs

by Jon Katz

Whenever I remember, I ask myself this question: What it is that I want for my dogs?

I always have the same answer. I want a good life for them. Some people feel this can only be accomplished if  you save a dog from a bad life and then give him a good one.

But I feel this moral obligation no matter where I get a dog: a breeder, a shelter, a rescue group, off the street. I get a dog from all kinds of different places, and in all kinds of different ways.

They all deserve the same thing, in a sense, they all need to be saved.

I wish to give every one of them a good life.

A purebred dog deserves this as much as a rescue dog, Rose deserved it as much as Bud, Lenore as much as Red.

There is, I know,  a particular kind of gratification from pulling a dog out of an awful situation and into a good and loving one. I also know that is often a selfish thing, as much for me as for them.

But one is no better or worse than another. I see all dogs as being rescued from a poor life, transported from one place to another, a good life.

I resist the many temptations I am offered to be divided from other people, to label myself, to let others label me, to see my feelings as superior to yours, as my choices more righteous than yours.

Animals don’t do that to one another, only grasping politicians and the people who blindly follow them.

My dog theology centers not on the shallow debate over rescue or purebred, but on the idea stewardship, first expressed, like so many moral ideas,  in early Christian theology.

“God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it (Genesis 2:15) or Corinthians 4:1-2: “Let a man consider us as stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. Or Luke 12:47-48: “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.”

The idea of stewardship has evolved from the Bible in our contemporary world, and it has become an inspiration to me.

There is nowhere in my life that I take the responsibility of stewardship more seriously than in caring for animals.

The angry people who have occasionally accused me of cruelty, even abuse, have no comprehension of what stewardship really is when it comes to animals. There are many ways to show mercy.

Dictionary.com defines stewardship as the responsibility and overseeing and protection of something worth caring for and preserving.

A steward can also be a person who acts as a surrogate of another or others, and aren’t we all surrogates for our pets and animals, none of whom can speak for themselves in our language?

My goal when I get a dog like Bud is simple. To give him a good life.

And Bud is now having a good life. He is well fed and comfortable sheltered. He is being trained to live safely and lovingly in our world. He feels safe and cared for.

He has places to rest and find peace, and other dogs to be with and play with and learn from, as is the almost universal need of dogs, who are pack creatures.

I not only love him, I train him, and care for his health, and give him the medicine I understand that he needs. He has access to the places he needs, and is learning to live in safety and trust.

Maria feels the same way.

I am faithful to this, I take it seriously. It’s my job to give him a good life, to let him run freely when possible, have work to do, and the attention  he needs to feel loved and secure. I think dogs can feel pride and approval, even if they don’t quite know what either is.

It is stewardship even to find the things he needs to chew on and learn to be calm and at rest. And to offer him praise.

Being a steward means being a surrogate: I will speak for him when he needs me to show up, and be sure to show him mercy and spare him unnecessary suffering and pain.

I will not assume he will tell me what he wants, I know it is my job to do that, to speak for him, to understand what he wants and needs and take responsibility for both.

Watching Bud on the sofa tonight, looking so much more peaceful and at ease than when we first saw him two weeks ago, I felt good. When there is real stewardship, if feels solid, it feels good.

I feel much of me will be required for this dog, and much has been committed, and much more will be asked.

I commit this, it is what it means to be a steward.

17 October

Live Today! Talking About Animals. My Radio Show

by Jon Katz

My new radio show about animals, a longtime dream of mine, goes live today on WBTNAm 1370, a community radio station in Bennington, Vt. The broadcast will be live-streamed from anywhere with just a click,  I very much welcome calls.

In the new world, any radio broadcast can be or is a national broadcast. The internet is a boundary crusher.

WBTN is a struggling community radio station, I am hoping this broadcast will not only be meaningful for me, but will help the station get back on its feet, they have been neglected for a long while, they need just about everything.

You can call me between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., the calls are free from anywhere in the country: 866 406 9286. If you live in the stations listening area, the number is 802 442-1010. (There is a seven-second delay, please turn off your radio if you call.)

I have about 40 questions that have been e-mailed to me by my blog readers, I will take the first minutes of the show to read some of them and answer them as best I can.

I even have my own theme music, Van Morrison’s wonderful “Bright Side Of The Road,” one of my favorite songs.

The theme and show intro was put together by the station’s Executive Director and only visible employee, Thomas Toscano (photo above),  an opera singer, conductor and composer who has devoted much of his life to saving WBTN. I hope he makes it. I hope I can help, he has been very enthusiastic about my show.

My idea for the broadcast is to be one of the first, if not the first,  intelligent shows about dogs, cats and other animals. I want the show to be a thoughtful conversation between me and you, not a raging argument. I think this show is necessary. I think animals deserve a thoughtful and open discussion of their lives and problems.

The animal world, like the political world, has been polarized by polarizing and arrogant ideologues and people who believe everything they read online must be true. We can do better than that, and we will, for as long as it lasts.

The first topic I want to take up today is the subject of vaccinations, one of the most controversial topics in the pet world. I’ve been researching it all week. I have lots of others in the pile.

If you like the broadcast and support the idea of community radio in the Corporate Nation, please think about helping the station. We’ve started a WBTN Amazon Wish List (sold out already.)

You can donate to the station online if you wish to support it or my show. Or you can send a check to WBTN, 407 Harwood Hill, Bennington, Vt., 05201. I hope the Army Of Good will join me in helping them survive. There are very few places  in America now where ordinary people’s voices can be heard on any media, our culture is being Corporatized by big companies and big government.

Red is coming with me. I hope to hear from you, I hope you can listen, or check in at 5 p.m., when the show will be repeated. You can hear it live here.

Just click on “live.” This show will be broadcast every Wednesday, 1 to 3 p.m.

17 October

Red At Work, Morning Graze

by Jon Katz

Red at work is a beautiful and inspiring thing to see. He is faithful to his work, and also proud and dignified Sometimes, he is content to sit and watch over the sheep.

On this beautiful fall morning, he stood guard while they grazed, always ready to move. Dogs have been doing this work for thousands of years, it is always a beautiful thing to see.

17 October

Teaching Bud To Stay, Day Three

by Jon Katz


Teaching Bud to stay, day three. For an 18-month old dog who was never trained at all, and who lived in a metal pen outdoors for most of his life, Bud is doing well. Terriers are distractable, hyper-vigilant dogs. They are also bright, and food-oriented, things to work with.

This is the third day of training But to “stay,” an important calming training. Dogs usually know how to do everything but nothing, and people tend to arouse and overdo playing, and exercising and chasing things.

I get small biscuits and break them into small pieces. (Dogs don’t know the difference). I love training dogs, it is not about obedience, it is a spiritual experience. It is about showing them how to live safely and lovingly in a sometimes hostile world.

That arouses the dogs, and a grounded dog must also learn to be calm. They know how to be crazy. By training every day, I am establishing a close relationship with Bud, teaching him to look at me and listen to me, and also helping to calm him down.

When he came, he was hyper-aroused and excited, every day, he is setting in. Every day we practice sitting and staying – next is lie down, the toughest for dominant dogs like Bud.

I have a long way to go. Bud will stay for about 45 seconds. A dog does not know “stay” until he or she will remain still for three minutes. I have a good long ways to go.

Unlike the TV shows, training is not simple or quick. It takes time and patience and focus. I also use visualizations with Bud, they help. I imagine the outcome I want.

You can see from the videos how smart and responsive Bud is, how is learning and responding. Come and seem. I’m pleased. Much more work to do.

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