Dog politics is not a subject I’m particularly fluent in. I once almost moved to a place where dog rights, or perhaps better stated the rights of dog owners/guardians, were a particularly heated subject of discussion. I don’t think the fierce, antagonistic, and divisive language on either side of the debates necessarily turned me off the neighborhood. Then again, I can’t say it didn’t. In my neighborhood when I see dog droppings, I tend to guess it is due to a stray in the night, not a negligent human. My comfort only goes so far. Ferocious barking on a public sidewalk is not something I’ve yet to appreciate, rationalize, or otherwise acclimate to, especially when the barker is, shall we say, untethered. As I was reminded in the neighborhood I mentioned earlier, barking isn’t solely a chosen outlet of dogs; it’s also employed by their benefactors and their detractors. Matters of tone remind us that even the most well-reasoned arguments can suffer depending on how they are delivered. But arguments and how they’re delivered are just part of a debate, especially when that debate extends over a long period of time. In such cases, the victor may be the one who subtly shapes and shifts the vocabulary employed by both sides. Whoever, for example, sorted out that the opposite of “on leash” isn’t “unleashed” but, instead, “voice control” has arguably nudged the debate in the favor of the the canine crowd. Where “unleashed” suggests something out of control, “voice control” suggests that control is not merely the province of leashes. The term effortlessly dispenses with a binary. On the one hand, this specialized use “voice control” might seem like a tough sell in 2017, as voice control is becoming a common term related to gadgets that contain at least some modicum of artificial intelligence. Or perhaps those very robot tools are in the canine crowd’s favor. Maybe the phrase “voice control” today seems more powerful — more of a suggestion of conscious awareness and programmed response, more of a leash — than ever.An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt.