Alone With My Thoughts

A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster

Pet owners, pay attention, your dog needs privacy too

I realize most of the people who read my columns are of above average intelligence, some bordering on genius – admittedly not that many – but occasionally I hear something puzzling and the thought occurs to me perhaps you might be able to help.

This week I was listening to an interview with a psychologist, at least I think that’s what she said she was, although it could have been psychopath, (I understand it’s hard to tell one from the other). Anyway, she taught her dog to read. By ‘read’ she didn’t claim Spot likes to curl up with a good book and a snifter of brandy every evening, the lady was merely saying her dog recognizes common words printed on flash cards. If she holds up SIT, the dog sits. EAT the dog gets out a dozen eggs and whips up a soufflé, stuff like that.

This morning, I was looking out the front window and saw a lady walking by with her dog. As you might expect, she was carrying the obligatory plastic bag. It occurred to me that if a dog is smart enough to read, could it be that he or she is mentally developed enough to feel embarrassment? Put yourself in the dog’s paws for a moment; how would you feel if every time your mistress took you for a stroll, she took along a little baggie and then – think about this now – watched you?

What must be going through Spot’s mind while answering the call of nature?

“Oh God, she’s watching me again. I hate that. I guess she pays for the Burger Bits, but does that woman have any idea how I feel about this?”

“Oh well, here goes. Hmmm, that’s nice soft grass.”

“Now I’ll bury it… she’s not… I don’t believe it… she’s actually picking it up in a bag. What kind of fruitcake is she?”

“Oh, wonderful! There’s Miss Mew, the Himalayan, watching from the window. I’ll never hear the end of it. She’ll tell Spike the bulldog, and he’ll blab to Angus the Scotch terrier, and on and on. Tomorrow my name will be the main topic around every hydrant in town.”

And mark Spot’s words, it will too. It stands to reason if dogs can read, then it isn’t much of a stretch for them to gossip the same as people.

I once wrote a column about the dangers of teaching a dog or cat to speak. Not a good idea folks! And you, sir, how would you like Fluffy to blab about the argument you and the missus had last night over whether to watch the Jays lose another or a rerun of Murder She Wrote (will that series never end?) for the 32nd time? By the way, bringing her mother’s name into the conversation was not the brightest thing you ever did.

How did I hear about that? Our cat, Willison, was talking to your budgie, Joey, just before he ate him and he let the cat out of the bag so to chirp.

How can you, the readers, help? You are probably asking yourself, “Mr. Foster needs my help, what can we do? We don’t even know what his problem is.”

You can start by treating your pets with dignity. If you show a little more respect for your dog’s feelings when you are going walkies, then he or she will reciprocate in a like manner. 

If you don’t stare at Rover while he is doing his business, then Rover will not break wind when the minister and his wife are over for tea. I’m afraid he will still launder himself – in a dog’s world cleanliness is next to Godliness. If anyone should know, it’s the Reverend. After all, he is supposed to teach it every Sunday. No! Not you laundering your essentials; I meant the Godliness part. You can’t just haul out a facecloth in the middle of the 23rd Psalm and start scrubbing away. On the other hand, if you have a little spit bath while the usher is wandering up and down the aisle shaking down the parishioners for cash, he might avoid your pew altogether. Not only will you be money in pocket, you’ll have enough left to drop by the grocery store and pick up another box of Burger Bits.

I think you can see I need help.

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