No longer a dog’s life

As I may have mentioned before, when struggling for content, we have a dog (my family and I do, I mean; not you and me).

Funnily enough, given the hard time I generally give him in this column, I feel sorry for him – and it isn’t easy to feel sorry for someone whose life consists largely of sitting around eating and sleeping, or if he feels like changing things up, sleeping and eating. There isn’t much difference, in terms of impacting on the world, between our dog and your average gamer, although the dog is statistically less likely to pee on the floor.

I feel sorry for him (the dog, not the gamer) because a whole bunch of dog rules got passed by the pet authorities in between the last time I had a dog and now. For example, when I was a kid everyone had a dog, nobody had totally fenced off yards, and dogs pretty well went (in every sense of the word) wherever they felt like.

Everyone knew everyone else’s dog and things were quite pleasant, aside from the occasional dog fight which didn’t bother anybody (or, to be more accurate, didn’t bother me, because my dog never lost).

Now, there are many rules about dogs, including about leads which – as I have mentioned before – nobody but me observes. Back in the ’70s and ’80s (never mind which ’70s and ’80s) we had our dog for 13.5 years, and he never once had a lead. It would have been utterly superfluous anyway, since no force on Earth could make that dog go in any direction he didn’t want to go.

When he was due for a bath (this is a true anecdote here) we would place his food bowl next to a tree, and when he was distracted eating his food, we’d tie a rope to the tree and his collar. He was a big, strong dog, and we were not bothered by salesmen in those days (or if we were, he did something nondiscoverable with the bodies).

I do support some of the new rules, especially the one about cleaning up after your dog. I have had many running shoes ruined by dog doo which, as any runner knows, is the most toxic and fragrant substance on Earth.

If the UN was serious about containing North Korea (or if it ever actually did, you know, anything really) they would simply surround the place with a 10-foot-wide band of dog doo; Kim Jong Un would thereafter sit in the exact middle of the country with a peg on his nose. I believe a similar tactic would work in the Middle East, and in response to other existential threats such as the expansion of China and Gwyneth Paltrow.

The weirdest rules about dogs, however, are in relation to what they cannot eat, because previously dogs could eat anything. For example, these days we know that dogs are not allowed to eat onions because they (the dogs) would die; back in the day we did not know that, but thankfully neither did the dogs, and they happily ate many foods that had onions in them (and many things that were not technically food) with no ill effects apart from occasionally vomiting up, say, the wrapper of a Hava Heart.

I can relate to my dog on this, because humans have also become subject to a number of weird food rules that did not have any application back in the day. For example, back then the height of healthy beverages was orange juice, but these days many highly respected fruit loops have websites dedicated to the concept that orange juice is too high in sugar and is, thus, unhealthy.

I have to laugh at that, because in those days my friends and I occasionally consumed a soft drink called creaming soda, which had a sugar content so high it would eat through the can if you did not consume it quickly enough. If that stuff didn’t kill us, there is no need to worry about orange juice (or nuclear waste, for that matter).

We also considered meat and three veg a good dinner, and bacon and eggs a hearty breakfast. These days, vegans will lecture you for hours on the evils of such diets, or would if they didn’t keep passing out halfway through their opening sentences. I suspect whatever messages vegans are trying to get across would have more impact if vegans did not look like people who had been adrift on a life raft for months, surviving on toothpaste.

Not that I am suggesting that there is anything wrong with veganism, because following a deep analysis of all the scientific literature and informed commentary available on the subject, I have concluded that I do not wish to be sued. I am happy for people to choose for themselves whatever diet they wish, be it veganism, vegetarianism, pescetarianism or breatharianism, although I point out – again, in the interests of not being sued – that breatharianism has some minor drawbacks, in that it is a load of old cobblers and you will die if you take it up.

I do object to people putting their dogs on weird diets though. I saw an article recently about a woman who had placed her husky on a vegan diet with no ill effects that she could see. The husky was right there in the photo, looking as healthy and fit as you would expect it to look, presuming it had been lying dead in the desert for a week.

So I think that we need to let the dogs go back to eating pretty much what they want, as long as it isn’t something valuable such as money or the TV remote control. Oh, and don’t let them anywhere near the
orange juice…

© Shane Budden 2020. Shane Budden is a Queensland Law Society ethics solicitor.

This story was originally published in Proctor April 2020.

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