Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Barking up the wrong breed

Part of my job in my last assignment as a County employee was dealing with the animal control division.  Now, understand, I like animals as much as most anyone...cats more than dogs, dogs more than alligators. 

I am by no means any sort of expert on animals.  To show this, I think of how Peggy and I waited to adopt cats until after we retired, thinking that it would be unfair to leave cats home all day while we were at work...only to find that they sleep most of the day, anyway.  
As we first fell in love with them.

Which is not a bad way to live, to tell you the truth.

But we have two little cats who are the stars of the family now, and we enjoy their company a great deal. 

I bring all this up to lead into my thoughts about dogs.  I am not as fond of dogs as many people are, nor do I detest and fear dogs as many people do.

It's interesting that there are two mindsets on the topic of the dogs known as pit bulls. These little terriers first came to attention in the persona of Spuds McKenzie, a dog who served as the mascot for beer commercials.  

The Little Rascals hung out
with "Petey" the pit
And then, people started breeding them, and along came problems. You can't read the news without seeing sad stories like this one from California, in which a nine-year-old boy was mauled to death by his older sister's three pits. And a few more Google clicks will take you to the Pit Bull Heroes Hall of Fame page, which lists countless tales of heroic little doggies saving their drowning families, saving cats from coyotes, and the list goes on.

One thing I learned from veterinarians concerning this type of animal is that their personalities contain an intense desire to please their masters, so if the family that owns one wants a dog to bring in the paper, fetch slippers and hang around happily while Billy practices piano and Sis walks around with a book on her head to learn how to be a model, they will be glad to serve in that role.

And conversely, if they are owned by people who, shall we say, make their living in the field of merchandising non-pharmaceutical drug products, and that owner wishes for them to sink their choppers into the ankle bone of a rival merchant, they will be delighted to do just that.

There will always be people who will swear on a stack of Milk-Bones that pit bulls have little halos above their heads, and are little canine angels on earth, just as there will always be people who will cite numerous accounts of pit bulls who were very happy because they have four legs and one arm.

It just dawned on me that we have to learn how to approach each four-legged critter with the same discretion and prudence that we apply to two-legged folks.  Maybe it's just that dogs and people both act more or less the way we treat them.  

Good to know.

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