My daughter Kate is currently in Colorado for spring break, visiting friends. Tied here to my computer, I was looking forward to experiencing the trip vicariously through her photographs of scenic vistas: the majestic Rocky Mountains and pastoral panoramas of glistening snow on Aspen trees. To my consternation, every photo she has posted prominently features Tres, the three-legged pet of the family she is visiting. At least I think she went there to visit friends. I'm starting to think it's all about the dog.
Actually, this behavior isn't surprising - society seems more and more obsessed with our pets, spending a whopping $45 million each year primping and spoiling little Spot and Fluffy. Perhaps we should change our official motto, "In God We Trust"
to the Latin Proverb, "Love me as you love my dog."
Canine converts will agree with Mahatma Gandhi's
insightful quote, "The more people I meet, the more I love my dog."
Or if you're into existentialism, you may prefer Franz Kafka
's "I am, because my little dog knows I am."
Something tells me you can get that on a T-shirt. Make that $46 million a year.
A passionate proponent of our porcine pals is my friend Donna, a selfless and energetic activist for animal rights. She volunteers weekly at Pigs Peace Sanctuary, a haven for wayward Wilburs who have escaped the horrors of humankind - or more accurately, human unkind. Donna tells me that pigs are just as smart as humans, and would agree with Winston Churchhill's
quote, "Always remember, a cat looks down on man, a dog looks up to man, but a pig will look man right in the eye and see his equal."
Please, no comments about Winston's resemblance to our animal friends.
Proverbs quotes are chock full of references to pets, among them the Irish Proverb, "If you lie down with dogs you'll rise with fleas."
This statement is both literal and figurative. As anyone who has seen the television commercial can attest, those little buggers will jump from place to place in the flick - or is that "tick" - of the wrist. And so it is with mortal beings - no amount of K9 Advantix will sooth your soul if you associate with the "Slim Shady's" of our society. Just ask Eminem
We all know that dogs have many admirable qualities. Cats are another matter, as explained in the quote: "Dogs come when they are called; cats take a message and get back to you." When we rescued our two cats several years ago, I was under the erroneous impression that they would be functioning contributors to the family: chasing bugs and catching small rodents. This is in direct contradiction to their current behavior: Molly's primary motivation is to lead me to the cans of tuna while Sammy, the younger, wants to sleep on my lap 12 hours a day. I have to agree with Hispanic television mogul Jeff Valdez's
quote: "Cats are smarter than dogs. You can not get eight cats to pull a sled through snow.
" Smarter, maybe. Lazier, certainly! It reminds me of the funny quote, "Did you know that dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the very edge of the pool and throw them fish?"
My cats evidently think they have accomplished the same feat, minus the pool.
Whether it's Wilbur, Molly, Tres, or Ferrari (our fish), animals certainly arrived on this planet before man and deserve our respect. As succinctly stated by the patron saint of my hometown (Seattle), Chief Sealth
said: "What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected."