Monday, October 23, 2017

Good Livestock Guardian Dog - Bad Owners: Odin's Fire Survival Becomes Crass Commercialized Circus

T shirts, Beer and Bags: In a country where we wink and nod at sex predators and racism, traitors in our military and intelligence agencies, Hollywood pedophiles on the lam in Europe and coke snorting anorexic actresses and actors, Americans desperate for real heroes fixate on a Great Pyrenees named Odin who was just doing his job. Meanwhile, the media is turning Roland Tembo Hendel and his willing hand-wringing fame-crazed cohorts into instant celebrities who are all too glad to cash in on a dog they were only days ago, willing to let burn to death. Do you smell something rotten? Many do….

****10/24 Update - many thanks to the 1,000s of people who have not just read this post but are liking and sharing it all over social media. It was read over 2,000 times in less than 24 hours. I am glad to see many others share my opinion of this family's gross lack of planning and disturbing lack of remorse.

And so it's come to this: people who've never seen or owned a Livestock Guardian Dog, let alone understand what they normally do as a way of life, obsessively rally behind a poor Great Pyrenees and his eight rescue goats left behind to die in the Tubbs Fire in California because he survived. Instead of dying, the dog and goats somehow manage to duck flames while their family - long evacuated to safety sans  dog and goats - shed crocodile tears and assumed they have died horrid deaths in the flames.

Upon finding out they were alive, the all too enterprising Roland Tembo Hendel wasted no time immediately (the rapid rate this happened at, had many people calling foul from the get-go) started a crowd funding and, although they've yet to admit it, you can rest assured, contacted news organizations who rapidly glommed on to their story.  Forget professional and unbiased news reporting - that was quickly kicked out for a syrupy, story-after dialog that has gone viral. Acting as the family's unofficial PR machine, media outlets even included the link to the family's crowd funding site. I mean, why bother to pretend to report news? Let's just morph into The National Enquirer.

Their pleas for cash were rapidly answered and they were quickly rewarded for abandoning dog and livestock to die to the tune of thousands of dollars. How many thousands? Well, at last blush well over $81,000 which they crow they'll use to "rebuild." Meanwhile, the family's story changed by the day and Internet "friends" morph into quasi-offical "spokespersons" and apologists, and started crawling out of the woodwork in their defense, reshaping and changing the narrow escape story with every raised brow that 'dares' to question this hot mess, and the Hendel family's true motives and abysmal lack of planning for fire evacuation.

But thankfully, not everyone gets buffaloed. Thankfully, some people see through the hype. The public begins to smell something. And more and more people begin questioning and doubting this family's suitability as owners of the dog and stock, pointing to the obvious: they had made no prior fire preparation, and the fires had been raging for days, not mere seconds or minutes - why didn't the family act sooner? Why did they procrastinate?

Where did Roland Tembo Hendel park his brains, at Disneyland?

And more: since when does an LGD owner not evacuate their dog simply because "he didn't want to leave the livestock?" With responsible owners the answer is NEVER. A responsible LGD owner can handle their LGD (or they have no business owning and using one.) He/she leashes and/or harnesses their dog, leads him AND stock to safety into a stock trailer and removes them from the property. Or, no trailer - still no problem - they open gates and responsibly shepherd animals away from raging flames. They do NOT just walk away, bail into a car and dash off waving goodbye citing the reason that "the dog didn't want to leave his goats."

But that is what the Hendels did, and, in reward for it, the public is throwing money at them and turning them into star attractions for it. This is sickening. Where is the outrage? The outrage is out there but being muted by the gushing apologists and the touchy feel good types who are knee jerk reacting to the drama, with no serious investigation into how this whole crisis happened in the first place.

Don't Piss on My Leg…and Tell Me It's Raining

Do you have any idea how many LGDs across this country perform similar heroic tasks every day, saving stock from predators or two legged thieves or crisis or disasters? LGDs protect lambs from wolves and bears. They save a goat herd from a pack of coyotes. They station themselves by the side of an animal when it dies, guarding the dead body out of sheer loyalty; I know this from experience. And more. Any LGD owner and operator will tell you story after story that can rival that of Odin's. LGDs are special dogs - because their nurturing and protective instinct is inherent in them - the good ones, anyway. It is not front page news. It's old news to any rancher or farmer who has used these dogs. Hey, we live with this day in and day out, we know what these dogs are capable of doing. It is who they are!

The media and most town and city folk, on the other hand? Totally ignorant.

But you rarely hear about what the average Joe's LGD does day in and day out, because it is what they do in the line of duty - nothing special here folks - this IS what LGDs do. For a living. Most importantly: when these heroic acts quietly occur, you don't see their owners instantly putting up crowd funding ploys nor do you see them granting interviews to clueless reporters too ambivalent to do any hard questioning or vetting out of Roland Tembo Hendel's ever-changing stories. 

When the legend becomes fact, print the legend, not the real truth. Why, don't you know? It sells more papers and gets more hits on a news agency's websites, after all. And by latching on to a media circus the Odin debacle has now become, the media in turn get more PR for themselves. It's a win win for all involved, and also why our media has turned into a circus and the new "norm" is what our own President refers to as "fake news." 

Meanwhile, glutted with the attention, and obviously star struck and blinded with the fame and enough cash to buy a new home, let alone rebuild a barn or buy a stock trailer, the family now wants to equate a dog's actions with a can of IPA beer or a T shirt and a canvas bag that doesn't even have Odin's name on it (which was pointed out on several news agency's websites, by many irked observers calling them out on the obvious.) Odin beer, eh? The Hendels are stooping to new lows. They are demeaning what Odin did. Shame on them….

Don't kid yourself about the hype that they'll be "donating all the proceeds to charity" - is anyone actually tracking that? No, of course not, because that would require work and accountability - things foreign to these people and a lazy press corps. We know that their "rebuilding their barns" line began changing by the day to "buying a stock trailer" once 100's of outraged people began slamming the family's true intentions and lack of prior preparation for the fire on numerous Facebook pages and newspaper websites. What now, a brewery?

Like to read this or not: don't kid yourself for one minute if you think everyone out there is lauding these people. The realty is anything but. Thankfully, there is an increasingly small but devout segment of society left with true morals, a sense of what is right and what is wrong, who is not afraid to speak out about it, and who is not afraid of calling out someone over their lack of responsibility and accountability.

This much we do know: actions don't lie. In cold blood, these heartless hacks (and others have called them far worse on the Internet - the moniker "assholes" is currently the most popular) -  made a choice. They chose to scurry off and leave animals behind to die without even trying to shepherd them to safety.

For that, they are now instant celebrities. What?

As I quipped on Facebook, I expect to soon hear that they'll be studding Odin out to approved females, and breeding him to sell Odin pups. "Own a piece of Odin" - you can see it now.

And I and many others are waiting for the last shoe to drop: we'll soon hear they've cut a deal with the Harvey Weinstein Company in Hollywood to do a film on Odin's life. Frankly, they'd deserve each other. Because that's what this is really all about: a crass, obscene, un-humble and sickening excuse to make money off of some hack hobby farming LGD owners' gross lack of accountability and apparently, an insatiable hunger for instant fame and fortune. 

Because don't you know? Humility went out of fashion eons ago. Ego is king. Working for fame and actually earning it takes too much effort and time in this day of farming by iPhone and Instagram, instant gratification and Internet fake Facebook profiles. So let's turn this trick into a money maker. And that is what they've done. The poor dog Odin has become their innocent vehicle to riches and their 15 seconds of fame. Suddenly the dog Roland Tembo Hendel was more than willing to let burn to death is his meal ticket.

Lassie and Rin Tin Tin are rolling over in their graves.

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