Odd Thoughts: Subliminal danger in brutal ads

Columnist Bob Groeneveld is concerned about how political ads are harming his four-legged ‘kids’.

We need to be more careful about what we let our kids watch on television.

They’re far too impressionable, and their brains are not fully able to grasp the difference between the real world and the violence and senseless brutality of political advertising.

Sam and Pip are both closing in on nine years – that’s older than Donna and me, in dog years. They say old dogs don’t learn new tricks, but over the past year or two they have developed a deeper understanding of the world around them than most folks will credit dogs.

Sam understands that the window in the family room opens to a world he can see but not enter. While he expresses occasional interest, I thought the happenings on the other side of that window only piqued his active involvement when someone in TV Land was molesting a puppy, or a furry animal behaved badly, like a raccoon thieving in someone’s backyard.

I didn’t realize he had been paying attention on the sly.

Pip has always taken the window into the world of television at something closer to face value. His ears will perk up at anything scurrying, small children, or even birds, if they squawk loudly. Men walking through a doorway or down a hallway, carrying anything remotely resembling a stick, will upset him whether in a television drama or in real life.

Pip gets angry when people raise their voices to each other, regardless of the reason for shouting. He gets particularly agitated if any guy in TV Land yells at a woman. Perhaps it goes back to his pre-rescue life. That life has become as remote to him as the land beyond the TV screen, but it remains very real to him, just as abused children may never escape their abuse.

All that is why it surprised me when it was Sam who became seriously agitated when he was looking out the front window as I spoke to some of the folks working at widening the road.

I turned my back on a guy with a shovel in his hand, and apparently, Sam was convinced Buddy was going to whack me over the head with it… that’s what happens in the movies, right?

If the kids have gleaned that from the shows they’ve watched, we’re not taking a chance on allowing their world view to be tainted by political advertising.