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To dogblog or not to dogblog

From John Woestendiek:

To dogblog or not dogblog; that was the question.

I'll confess at the outset that I am a reluctant blogger -- hesitant to step into this forum of the future for four reasons: first, because of concerns about whether I'm exploiting my dog; second, because blogs seem a somewhat egotistical pursuit; third, because they often seem the written equivalent of people talking when there is nothing to say; fourth, because it involves more work.

Usually, with me, those kinds of concerns over deeply held principles can be overridden with five simple words: "OK, we'll give you a raise."

But those words never came.

And here I am anyway.

Allow me to address those concerns backward. (You want them frontward, give me a raise.)

Concern 4: Well, we've covered that.

Concern 3: I promise you that, as in real life, when I have nothing to say, I will say nothing.

There's a communications revolution going on in this country, one that, it sometimes seems to me, is leading to less real communication than ever.

Before you start arguing, consider these two words -- "cell phone" -- and think back to how many times, in your last cell phone conversation, you asked the person talking to you to repeat what he said.

The Internet, amazing wonder of the world that it is, can also be something of a wasteland, and it is impossible to navigate the wondrous parts without getting bogged down in repetitive, recycled muck, which brings us to...

Concern 2: Some blogs rock. But many of them, as I see it, are just people (A) recycling what has already been said, (B) talking about things only their mother would be interested in, maybe, or (C) touting themselves.

I don't like touting myself (though I find Googling myself mildly entertaining).

Then again, I don't want the future to leave me behind.

So I'm in.

Here, unlike with the stories I write for the newspaper, which go through untold ranks of nit-picky editors, my words go virtually from my keyboard directly to you, cutting out the middlemen and women (or at least most of them). In a way, that's kind of scary. In another way, it's very exiting (I know ... "exciting"; I was just checking).

Here, if I have an opinion, I can express it. It's a lot more freewheeling, and maybe that is good.

That leaves Concern 1 -- "Ace-ploitation."

There were several times during the filming and assembling of "Hey Mister, What Kind of Dog is That?" -- the "dogumentary" about Ace's roots that is kicking off this new Web page -- that I wondered whether I was exploiting my dog.

I haven't entirely resolved that. Right now, for example, when I tell you to click elsewhere on this page to see the latest installment of the seven-part movie, I have pangs of guilt and feel like I'm shamelessly plugging my dog as if he were the latest floor mop featured on the Home Shopping Network.

Here is how I justify it. I think back. I think back to walking by schools and seeing hordes of excited children gather around to pet him. I think back to taking him to the retirement community in which my mother lives -- on a leash, of course (my dog, not my mother) -- and seeing the joy that shows up on peoples' faces. To be honest, fear shows up about one in 10 times, but the nine joys make it worth it ... unless, maybe you're that 10th person.

He spreads joy. It is contagious. It would be more wrong to keep that to myself. He is meant to be shared. He is an ambassador.

And if he reaches celebrity status, if he has to start wearing sunglasses to avoid the throngs of adoring fans, or the paparazzi (not to mention animal control officers) waiting to catch him doing something illegal (like being off his leash in the park), so be it.

He makes people happy. And in the world we're in, that sort of thing shouldn't be leashed, hoarded or otherwise restrained.

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