Dog whistle

Look at that I’m back again. We had some windy wild weather overnight. Lots of driving rain. The kind of weather that makes the storm windows rattle and the house groan. So yes, my sleep was repeatedly interrupted. Alas, a poor night’s sleep is bonus thinking time I guess.

I love little phrases that sound crazy but have unexpected meaning. One of those is the worm that flies at night. I have a chronic case of that. At night when tossing and turning trying to find that comfortable spot so I can go back to sleep something will creep into my mind and I’ll be forced to give it a turn over to see who, what, when, where and why it’s there. I consider what is making it pop up and how do I feel about that. I’m no philosopher but I do use my brain for thinking and often in the dark of night while counting the minutes until morning I see something in a way I didn’t before. An epiphany of sorts.

When I was a kid and I discovered that dog whistles existed I wanted one. I just thought that I’d be able to use that whistle to magically call Fittle, my apricot miniature poodle to me silently. I didn’t understand how it worked but I thought it was a tool I needed. When I begged my mother to buy me one she took the time to explain to me that while we humans can’t hear the sound it’s super loud to the dogs. She told me she’d seen people use them and how the dog’s ears would twitch and the response was best over a great distance not from one room to another in a small house. To blow the silent whistle up close would be like nails on a chalkboard to Fittle. I still hate the sound of nails on a chalkboard.

A lot of years passed until I heard the phrase dog whistle again and that time it had a very different meaning. It was a political term where a word or phrase is used to signal a certain group: a sound only they will understand and react to.

My guess is the dog whistle word of the moment is groomer. As a person allergic to most dogs but still a dog lover I am well acquainted with which breeds don’t shed and how one deals with dogs with coats that continuously grow: you hire a groomer.

I also know that word has other meanings. Basically it’s a person who over time convinces you to do something you wouldn’t have done if they’d just told you to do it outright at the beginning. Think advertising. What? I’m sure I’ve confused you. Imagine living in my head. Companies don’t come out and say buy our product or else. They convince (aka groom) you need their product. A cruise company for example will show you people having fun, fancy dining, exciting destinations and tell you about a lifetime of memories They want you to imagine yourself in the scene.

The companies want your money but they can’t just demand you hand it over. That’s robbery. They have to convince you that you want whatever they’re offering so you’ll hand your money over.

I’ll never forget the ad I saw in the back of a magazine when I was small. It was to buy a monkey through the mail. I don’t remember how much it cost, maybe $20, but I asked if I could order a monkey. (Yes, I was a pain in the ass as a kid and I probably still am.) Being sensible my parents said no. No monkey. We don’t order animals through the mail. At some point later we went to visit my mother’s friend Mary Grace. Her kids were teenagers and did pretty much what they wished. When we arrived Michael who was 4 or 5 years older than me asked if I wanted to see their monkey. They had ordered the monkey through the mail that my parents said no to. The look I gave my mother! You probably won’t be surprised that I was shocked and saddened to see the tiny sickly spider monkey (I had expected a chimpanzee) cowering in the back of the bird cage. That was a lesson right there about so many things. The least of which was truth in advertising.

Much like advertising which can be used to manipulate for good or bad, words can be used to manipulate for good or bad. It’s up to each individual to do their due diligence to learn how a dog whistle works and what they’re being sold by who. That little frightened spider monkey died a few weeks after I saw it. It should never have been offered for sale through the mail to people who had no idea how to care for it. Will we look back at the things we are being sold with the same feelings? I don’t know but I do know what’s advertised isn’t always what you get.

About nothingbutknit2

I'm a wife, mother and knitter. Watch out for my pointy sticks.
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3 Responses to Dog whistle

  1. I have dual degrees – Marketing and Fashion Design. I’ve always said that marketing is the practice of convincing people that they want something that they neither need nor can they afford. Fashion isn’t far off from that. I’ve never been a follower of fashion and advertising rarely lures me in easily. That’s a trait that I acquired in my childhood years when the thought of belonging to a crowd or a clique just didn’t work well for me.
    What got me into creating my own clothing was my first day on the bus in 9th grade. I swear it was a sea of the same sweater that I was wearing from Marianne’s at the Mall. The next day, my best friend showed up at school wearing the same purple top with a big butterfly that I was wearing.
    That’s it. I’m done with that.
    Now, to me, commercials and advertising are just forms of art and communication that are often just forms of entertainment for me – and my dog. Funny, but CarLotta Spots the Rat Terrier stops what she’s doing to watch a good M&Ms commercial and she knows a favorite commercial when they play the first note of background music.
    Yes, I do have one of those dog attention-getters. Not a whistle but a hand held device with red and white lights and that electronic sound that only they can hear. It has come in handy as a defense device when other dogs come storming us.
    Oh, and that active brain situation – I know it all too well.
    Take care and get that much needed rest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Myles watches TV too! He loves a YouTube channel that happens to have a black dog in some of the scenes (It’s called She Walks She Paints). He stares intently when the dog is on the screen and has moved closer to the TV trying to get closer to the dog. He completely ignores TV otherwise.


  2. Maverick watches TV! He does not like animal shows, though, barks his butt off. Like you, I’ve been hearing that word, “groomer” a lot and like you, it has a totally different meaning than they’re using for us dog lovers. (Maverick is at the groomer at the moment, by the way.) (And now I feel weird saying that. Am I teaching my dog to love some kind of weird sex? Umm, no, he’s getting a damned bath and haircut!) I’ve pondered the meaning of “dog whistle” too. So many terms that we have to relearn these days, I think I’ll just go do some diamond art. After I grade 5000 homework submissions from students who don’t understand that “submit in Excel” means “submit in Excel, not some wackadoo program you got free on the internet.”

    Liked by 1 person

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