Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Beastly treatments: pampering and debarking

I just don't understand people. On the one paw, they dress us up and make us miniversions of themselves. Did you see this week's (Feb. 8) New Yorker cover? It features a plethora of pampered pups who clearly have no idea how to play. They're covered from nose to tail in fleece and down, swathed in sweaters and scarves. They all look toasty warm, and every one looks completely miserable.

I for one prefer going au naturel into the elements, although as I have admitted, I am not a candidate for the postal service: rain, wind, snow and temperatures below 32 degrees have me turning up my (I have used this phrase before, but it is apt) considerably long nose and spurning the invitation of the open door.

My dad, who is very fond of tangential phrases, gives this advice: never resort to the rhetorical error of numbering the points one plans to make, in case you forget some of them. However, he always returns to the place where he left off, even if your brain has become numb trying to keep track of all of the twists and turns of the journey on which you have been led.

So to get back to my point of the other paw: today's New York Times ("Heel. Sit. Whisper. Good Dog.", by Sam Dolnick) reports on the barbaric practice of—shudder—removing a canine's vocal cords in order to have it become a more acceptable member of the family, as well as positively suffer the scrutiny of the co-op board.

I ably demonstrated my vocal abilities just this afternoon, and cannot imagine what I would do without them.

So which is it: pampering, or perilous surgery that isn't even taught any more in vet school? Maybe both practices actually work together to subsume canine companionship into the human hierarchy, rather than just accept us as who we are. Top dogs, of course!