Man: A Bow-Wow’s Best Friend
by Patricia Draznin

Dogs used to be animals. But thanks to evolution, today’s contemporary canines are furry little citizens bearing Gucci collars, credit cards, and memberships in Canine Singles Online. From noble Newfoundlands to nervous little Chihuahuas, let’s consider these devoted four-footed friends that nourish our hearts, soothe our souls, and sprawl on the antique rug puking roadkill.

America’s 70 million bow-wows are descended from wolves and still resemble their Canid predecessors in stature and even in hunting routines, if we count pawing a Reuben in search of pastrami. As you well recall, the first evidence of man partnering with beast appeared 15,000 years ago when cave drawings revealed dogs with human hunters who tracked bison, rabbits, hummingbirds—anything they could purée into Kibble. In the Middle Ages, raising pets became a status symbol. And this inspired dog breeding: for size, features, strength, and the ability to catch a stone Frisbee in mid-air.

In recent times, man’s best friend was a simple creature satisfied with a pat on the head, a corner of the garage to sleep in, and a dinner bowl engraved FIDO, GOLIATH, or NYMPHADORA TONKS. But your modern mongrel has bigger expectations. The pat on the head has evolved into a full-body massage. The garage corner gave way to a canopy bedroom suite. And the plastic bowl of Purina became a silver tureen of free-range Boeuf Bourgoingnon. These days, you almost have to be Paris Hilton to finance pet vogue, which is bound to include brass hydrants, snowboarding, bikini waxing, law school, and timeshares in Tahoe.

I once owned a dog. Harley was the product of a one-night stand between a consenting Dachshund and a non-consenting Yorkie. I trained him to sit, shake hands, check the mail, and roll over his IRA. And I dreamed he’d grow up to be Lassie, capable of alerting my family when I fell into the well or at least when I ran out of cash at the mall. Harley never became a Collie. But he did develop a talent for responding to the crinkle of a Hershey wrapper. Not that dogs should ever eat chocolate. No, that would harm their frail digestive systems, designed to process delicacies like sticks, rocks, nails, insulation, and mystery road splatter.

And now we come to the part of the column where Post-Doctoral Canines are poised on their hind legs for your candid Canid questions.

Q: How many dog breeds exist today?
Four hundred, including designer breeds like Schnoodles, Labradoodles, Bulldobers, Weinerschnitzels and Schnugs.

Q: Don’t dogs feel ridiculous dressed in clothing?
Yes. But we do recommend winter sweaters for shorthairs. Dress them in soft earth tones with chic button accents, and contrasting earmuffs that will showcase their collar studs.

Q: Will neutering change my pup’s personality?
Nine out of ten canines report that sex isn’t the same. Also, the males become less aggressive and territorial which makes us think you primates could try this on Capitol Hill.

Q: Why does my dog stick her nose out of the car window? And chew the sofa? And pee on my neighbor’s petunias? And paw my Reuben in search of pastrami?
Because we can!! (If you’ve never drunk out of a toilet you wouldn’t understand.)

Copyright 2007 Patricia Draznin


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