Chapter 15 — Greta’s Formal Education

Dogs are a lot like people.  If you greet others of your species with growls and barking, you have a good chance of getting growled and barked at in return.  Greta did not know this.

Greta met women with tail-thumping and licking, men with initial wariness and barking, usually followed by acceptance of petting.  But the sight of another dog brought her to the end of her leash,  growling with the menace of  a Blood who just spotted a Crip.  Her behavior may have been learned in her street dog days in puppyhood, but wherever she learned it, a 70-pound dog  throwing her weight around at the other end of the leash was not conducive to peaceful evening strolls around the neighborhood.

Greta knew “sit,” and she knew that people used the toilet indoors, dogs outdoors.  But there was much more she needed to learn to get along in life.   It was time for  Greta to enroll in school, with a major in canine relations.

Greta’s aggressiveness  ruled her out of regular classes, so she started with private tutoring.  We began with what the instructor called  “a non-reactive dog,” that is, a dog who would just sit there with a “You’ve got to be kidding me” expression while Greta lunged at the end of the leash and gave him her, “Beat it, or your head’s going to be looking for your body” threat.

It took weeks of practice before we were able to walk calmly at a distance from the dog without trying to attack him.  Gradually, Greta was able to walk within 10 feet of him without  lunging.  The other dog was a skilled sitter.  No matter what Greta did,  he  kept his butt parked on the asphalt and waited for the treat that would eventually be his reward.  We worked our way to within five feet, with Greta remaining calm.  Eventually, the two dogs were able to sniff rear ends without bodily harm to either.  The teacher gave treats all around.

Greta had progressed to mainstreaming.  She could attend classes with other dogs without disrupting the class.  In her group class, she learned that if your person gets out a leash and you go to the door together, she learned to sit before the door was opened.

She learned “come” and “leave it,”  at least “leave it” as applied to items inside the house.   Somewhere, possibly from proximity to a lawyer,  she picked up some legal education.  She concluded   that “leave it” does not apply to  items found beyond the borders of  her property, wonderful things  such as discarded chicken bones, because she had a finder’s claim to ownership of these items.

We would need to examine whether the bones are lost, mislaid or abandoned, since her claim to ownership depends on the circumstances in which they were found.

If a chicken bone is found in a place where the true owner probably did not intend to set it down, it is probably lost.  I would argue the bones Greta finds are not lost, because people who throw chicken bones on the ground rather than in trash cans probably intend to place them there.

A mislaid chicken bone would be one placed where the true owner probably did intend to set it, but simply forgot to pick it up again.  I would argue the bone she finds is probably not mislaid, because the owner probably didn’t forget to pick it up, in the way he might forget to pick up a pair of sunglasses he  laid on a counter while he paid for his chicken dinner.  It seems more likely that he never intended to pick it up.

Could the bone be abandoned?   Property is generally considered abandoned if it is found where the true owner probably intended to put it, but based on its condition,  it is unlikely the owner would retrieve it.  Greta has a good argument that a chicken bone with nearly all the meat gnawed off  is probably abandoned  property, and therefore she, as the finder, has a strong claim to ownership.  Absent a state statute, abandoned property becomes the property of whoever finds it and takes possession.

I counter-argue that no matter how strong her claim, if the finder chews up the chicken bone, pieces may splinter and get stuck in her throat,  stomach or intestine.  The finder will then have to go to her veterinarian, and may have a serious medical problem.  Neither of us will like that.









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