Watching the annual Westminster Dog Show makes February bearable. I’m a sucker for pet videos on the Internet, especially those of dogs greeting their owners after a long absence and cats snuggling with toddlers. Nicole Hollander is one of my favorite cartoonists, not only for her biting wit, but because cats abound in her “Sylvia” cartoons. Memories of my own pets over the years can draw a tear or two at the mention of their name. So it’s no surprise I’m attracted to news articles that feature critters.
Dog stories, as one might expect since they are “man’s best friend,” are a dime a dozen. But their commonality does not make them any less extraordinary.
Years ago, a Pekingese, Danny by name, was accused of having a face lift and nearly lost his title as Supreme Champion at the Crufts Dog Show in the United Kingdom. I can only imagine what would be involved in “lifting” a Pekingese’s pug face. Though considering it looks, quite frankly, like it smashed into a wall, I couldn’t blame the owner.
And then there was the Westie named Lexie from Brooklyn. As her owner bought milk in a supermarket and Lexie waited outside, someone stole her green wool coat, “with leather trim and belt” as the owner described it, right off her body (the dog’s, not the owner’s). Looking on the bright side, the owner was relieved Lexie wasn’t wearing her more expensive Burberry coat that day.
Theft went in the other direction when a Labrador retriever in Utah (name concealed to protect his identity, I suppose) strolled into a grocery store, headed straight for the pet food aisle, and grabbed a bone off the shelf. The manager commanded him to drop it. They stared at each other for one long minute, exchanging “I’m a bad dude” looks, and then the dog bolted out the door, bone in his jaws. Guess the store manager blinked first.
Even dead dogs get up to mischief. A woman in Missouri, upset her Chihuahua puppy had died, assaulted the breeder, wrestling him to the ground (oh, the power of grief), and then hit him repeatedly over the head with the dead puppy. As she drove away, yelling threats (She’ll come back with TWO dead puppies?), she waved the poor Chihuahua out the car’s sunroof.
As if that owner wasn’t reprehensible enough, a woman in China gave her dog “driving lessons” because he like being in the car so much. There he was behind the wheel, her foot on the accelerator and brake while he steered—right into an oncoming car.
These two stories made me a tad less sympathetic than I should have been toward the woman whose dog chewed off her diabetic big toe while she slept. Or toward the woman whose Swiss mountain dog, Augie, ate four hundred dollars in cash (instead of the kids’ homework). The woman claimed she found parts of three hundred-dollar bills and five twenties in his poop. Undaunted, she washed them with a garden hose and taped them together. I don’t want to think about the poor people who received this money in exchange for their goods and services. Or maybe she deposited the bills in the bank and told the teller, “This is a stink up.” (Go ahead, roll your eyes).
And lest we forget just how intelligent our four-footed friends are, there’s a chocolate Labrador in Pennsylvania to remind us. Left in the car on a ninety-degree day by his distracted owner, he honked the horn repeatedly before she realized what the commotion was about. Luckily, she rescued him in time. Though she might want to guard her toes while she sleeps from now on.