This past weekend I worked the trade show booth for Dogtra at the Shot Show in Orlando, Florida.
Dogtra is a manufacturer of electronic remote training collars. Shot Show is an acronym for The Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show and Conference. It is the largest and most comprehensive trade show for all professionals involved with the shooting sports and hunting industries with buyers from all 50 states and over 75 countries attending.
It was a fun weekend. I got to meet dog enthusiasts from around the world. People came to our booth to find out the latest developments in the product line, to express words of praise for the company and to share stories of training in the field. But what surprised me is how many people walked by, stopped briefly and commented, “Is that a shock collar, can I get one of those for my wife?” (or husband, or kids)
Of course we all smile politely and chuckle, but for heavens sake, the technology has advanced beyond recognition in the last 40 plus years. The days of one strong level used only to deter aberrant behavior are long gone. This is a tool that can be used with great finesse. We have the ability to subtly cue the dog and guide him in such a way that the average observer would have no indication that a pulse is being delivered. The stimulation can be adjusted to a level that should be defined as a *tap on the shoulder* rather than a shock.
Yet, somehow it seems to be en-grained in human perception that electricity is painful, dangerous and something to be afraid of. I imagine that close linking is due to the fact that we warn our children starting at a very young age to stay clear of the electrical outlets and to be very cautious during an electrical storm. Somehow the average persons understanding surrounding electricity is synonymous with danger, pain, heat and other like ideas.
How unfortunate that we have such limited understanding of something so prevalent in every aspect of our lives. Take a quick look at the Wikipedia page for a bit more knowledge. Not only does electricity power our every day conveniences, but it is a necessary component in allowing our muscles to contract. It is not something that man invented. But rather, something discovered in many of natures wonders and we have learned to harness it’s potential.
I hope that the day comes when I stand at trade show booths and people have the same curiosity as medical professionals viewing the latest in TENS units (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) I doubt there are crass comments about using the product to *shock*. These pieces of equipment are pocket size, portable, battery-operated device that send electrical impulses to certain parts of the body to block pain signals. A way to utilize electricity in safe and humane form to benefit the well being of the recipient.
Electricity can be used for many functions. The intent lies with the user. When dog professionals and enthusiasts alike come to understand the current use of electronic remote training equipment as far beyond that of pushing a button to create pain and punishment, THEN I will know my days of educating are done. But from what I heard this weekend, I suspect there is a long career ahead.