January 27th 2009 7:56 pm
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THIS IS FOR OUR PAWRENTS !!!!
For $1 million, would you agree to eat nothing but dog food for one year?
This is a no-brainer, or so I thought. Before asking my extended family this question at a family gathering this weekend, I assumed that everyone would agree to my hypothetical proposal. As distasteful as it might seem at first, I assumed that everyone in the room would (if given the opportunity) agree that they would eat nothing but dog food for one year in return for $1 million.
I write this post having tasted dog food on two occasions in past years. On those two occasions, I’d chomped on a nugget of dry dog food, the kind that comes in a 40 pound bag. I thought it tasted like cardboard, but it was not disgusting. On the other hand, it was not food I would be inclined to eat again unless given an incentive. Note: I have smelled canned dog food before, and I would not be inclined to eat that stuff. The canned dog food I smelled had a strong disgusting odor to it. It looked and smelled like it was no longer safe to eat.
So there I stood with various members of my family in my mother’s kitchen when I raised the question: who would be willing to eat nothing but dog food for the next year in return for $1 million? To my surprise, the rejections and objections started pouring in, even though I went first and even though I proudly stated that my answer was absolutely “yes.”
Two of my sisters and my mother each rejected the idea out of hand. I listened to their excuses and I thought that I addressed all their objections, but they continued to reject the hypothetical offer. One sister was concerned that if she went to all that work eating dog food for one year, they wouldn’t actually pay her the $1 million. Therefore I changed the hypothetical so that it included an escrow account held by a person or institution she trusted. Still, she refused to buy into the program.
Another concern (raised by a brother-in-law) was that even if dog food might provide most of the nutrition needed by a human being, it might not provide all of the vitamins and nutrients needed by humans. Therefore, it might be dangerous over the course of the year. Fair enough. In response, I agreed that anyone engaging in this endeavor could take any vitamins or supplements that one might need (but that dog food might not provide). That same brother in law then indicated that he might be willing to join the program, but only for $2 million.
I urged everyone to be honest. We were talking about $1 million. This is enough money to allow people to retire. I reminded everyone that they could buy their dog food at any supermarket or any pet store. Their dog food could include any commercially available product labeled “dog food,” and this could include any type of dog food, dry or canned food, entrées or dog treats (I was hoping that the phrase “dog treats” would get everyone more excited about signing up for this hypothetical deal, but it didn’t).
I wasn’t suggesting that they would have to eat their dog food on the floor or that they would have to eat it out of a doggie dish. They would merely have to agree to eat dog food, in any position. They could light candles before dinner if that ambiance made the difference. The main rule is that all of the food that they ate would have to be actual dog food. The only fluid that they would be able to drink would be water, since that’s the only liquid that most people give to their dogs.
In the course of discussing the issue, I told my family that a good friend of mine fed his son some dry dog food when the boy was three, with no ill consequences. One of my brothers-in-law indicated that when he was small, he offered a neighbor kid (”Kurt”) 25-cents if Kurt would eat two soggy chunks of dry dog food that had fallen in the dog’s water. “Kurt” accepted the offer and ate the dog food. Again, there were no ambulances or any untoward circumstances.
I reminded my family that they should consider the wonderful-sounding advertisements for dog food. For instance, Purina’s Pro Plan Dog Food purports to give your dog everything your dog needs to be a happy and healthy dog:
Dogs bring companionship, love, and more to our lives. Give more to your dog when you choose Pro Plan® dog food. Meet all of your dog’s nutritional needs with premium food; with real protein and healthy nutritional extras. With Pro Plan®, you are providing the building blocks of good health and a delicious selection of choices.
As often happens in my mother’s kitchen, the topic veered toward weightier moral issues. This injection of morality into this frivolous hypothetical reminded me of a conclusion once announced by a philosopher friend (”Tim”): “Morality starts with what you are willing to put into your mouth.”
One basic moral angle was this: Shouldn’t one be willing to eat anything that one make one’s dog eat?
That objection didn’t seem to have much traction. But then my mother modified the hypothetical. What if you were offered the chance to magically achieve world peace if you ate dog food for one year? That question drew some affirmative head nodding. Same result for this question that I raised: “What if someone agreed to fund medical treatment to cure 1,000 children who are dying of malaria if only you would eat dog food for one year? The elephant in the room is that there are millions of people starving to death who would jump at the opportunity to eat any food at all, even dog food (Starvation.net suggests that on September 11, 2001, 35,000 people died of starvation–a comparable number of people die every single day).
Back in my mother’s kitchen, the conversation turned back to one of fairness to the dog. Can you really have it both ways? Shouldn’t the rule be that if you aren’t willing to eat dog food neither should your dog? This fairness issue didn’t seem to change any votes.
In the end, I was the only clear and strong “yes” vote: I was the only one in the room who expressed that I was willing to eat nothing but dog food for one year in return for $1 million. Perhaps everyone else was too focused on recent reports on the kinds of things that manufacturers put into pet food.
All I will need to do now is find someone willing to pay me $1 million so I can get started.
I would add one more item to this hypothetical. I would agree that if you wanted to quit partway through the year (e.g., if you just couldn’t stand it anymore–or if it was making you sick), you could, but you wouldn’t receive any money unless you eat dog food for the entire year.
Questions to consider:
1. Would you sign up for this arrangement if it were offered to you: Would you be willing to eat nothing but dog food for one year, in exchange for $1 million?
2. If you would not sign up, name your price if you have one. How much would someone have to pay you so that you would eat nothing but dog food for an entire year?
For those of you who find this entire topic of eating dog food distressing, I am reminded of an old joke sometimes attributed to Winston Churchill:
Churchill: Madam, would you sleep with me for five million pounds?
Socialite: My goodness, Mr. Churchill… Well, I suppose… we would have to discuss terms, of course…
Churchill: Would you sleep with me for five pounds?
Socialite: Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?!
Churchill: Madam, we’ve already established that. Now we are haggling about the price.
December 9th 2008 7:40 am
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Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse
The stockings where hung by the chimney with care
In the hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there
But at the North Pole sudden changes arose
All down to Rudolph and his ruby red nose
Clipboard in hand, a breed expert arrived
He motioned to Santa saying," please step aside".
A smooth haired coat and a muscular build
A broad deep chest our Rudolph did yield
The breed expert's pen, created pages of ticks
Then he suddenly called out "good lord, we've been tricked!"
"This creatures no donkey and clearly no horse!
I know these things! I've attended the course!"
Look at my clipboard the boxes are full!
It's very obvious to me: Rudolph is a pit bull!
Out with the measuring sticks, he explained to Santa the law
And he measured poor Rudolph from shoulder to floor.
As the spectacle continued Santa said with a sigh
He's a reindeer you fool! Why must he die?
"The law is the law" the expert said standing tall,
Then picked up his mobile and made a quick call
The sound of sirens filled the peaceful night air
and Rudolph removed .to who knew where?
Days turned too weeks and confused and alone
Rudolph pined, for the place he called home
As the first snow started falling Rudolph gave up the fight
And he took his last breath on a cold winters night
You may think this is funny, if a little untrue.
But how would you like it, if it happened to you?
If your dog was taken because of its look?
Because it ticked enough boxes in some silly book?
Regardless of parentage it doesn't matter what breed
If it ticks enough boxes then it's a done deed
So humour me here and pretend this is true
Think how you would feel if it happened to you.
Cuddle your hounds while you have them close by
For some spend this Christmas, waiting to die.
Now back to the story, it doesn't end there
One more short verse I need to share
Santa fetched Rudolph's body and cried for his friend
And swore to himself, this would not be the end
And I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight
"The law is wrong, please help us to fight!"
Author: Alison Green
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December 4th 2008 9:38 pm
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The scene has been replayed so often in popular culture that it has come to symbolize the holidays as much as tinsel and candy canes: A shopper, with freshly wrapped packages bulging out of two different bags, casually walks by a pet store window as the snow falls gently around her. The puppies behind the glass, all floppy ears and paws, madly scramble over each other trying to capture the shopper's attention. The temptation is too great. The shopper whisks into the store and impulsively purchases an animal for her beloved.
The classic Hollywood scene, unfortunately, has roots in reality. This season, many shoppers will buy a dog or cat to give to a friend or loved one. Their motivations can be as varied as the snowflake: Some will buy an animal on impulse, some because they're caught up in the spirit of the season, and some just because the doggie looks so darn cute in the pet shop window.
None of them is the right reason to add a new pet to the family.
Adding a pet to the family is a serious, long-term commitment. It's a decision that needs input from everyone who would be involved in caring for the animal.
There are many questions that need to be considered thoughtfully: What type of animal would have a personality most compatible with a person or family? Who would be the primary caregiver of the pet? How much will it cost to feed and provide veterinary care? Who would look after the animal during trips? Could someone be allergic to the pet? It is extremely important that the primary pet caregiver—whether it's you, a friend or loved one—is 100% involved in the adoption process.
Instead of buying a puppy or kitten as a gift, consider waiting to adopt a pet after the holidays. You could even build some excitement for a post-holiday adoption. You could give a loved one a "gift certificate" from a local shelter, or a snapshot of a shelter pet, or even a stuffed animal representing a shelter pet—all which can be used as "passports" to adopt an animal later. You could also wrap up some useful pet supplies—a dog bowl, a cat collar, a scratching post, or an exercise wheel for a hamster or gerbil (animals that are popular during the holidays)—and give those as "passports" as well.
This not only promotes responsible adoption, but provides a little fun, too. After the holidays, if your loved ones decide they are indeed willing and able to adopt a pet, you can bring them down to the local shelter where they can use their "passport" to adopt their new friend.
The alternative to this scenario can be sadder than the Island of Misfit Toys.
Toni Baker of the Louisiana SPCA remembers when a young man insisted on adopting a kitten for his mother as a Christmas gift. The SPCA strongly discouraged him, explaining all the reasons why it's not a good idea to adopt an animal for another person, but the young man was adamant. Against their better judgment, SPCA staffers allowed him to adopt the kitten.
The SPCA's initial concerns, as you might suspect, were well-grounded: That same young man turned up the very next day with the kitten and his mother, a woman who did not want the responsibility of owning a pet. In the end, the kitten was eventually adopted by a loving home, but as Baker said, that was a "miracle" that almost never happens.
Shelters too often bear the brunt of these unexpected gift decisions. When the recipient decides the pet is not that cute anymore, or too much work, or they just weren't ready for the responsibility, it is often the local shelter that takes in these animals. And because so many shelters are already filled to capacity, unless other animals are adopted out to make room for the new ones, euthanasia is a possible ending to an already sad tale.
As Nancy Peterson, a companion animal issues specialist for The HSUS, says, "It's important to remember that animal shelters, and their innocent charges, will suffer the effects of impulse purchases of pets as gifts. Deciding whether one has the time and resources to add a pet to the family needs to be made after careful thought. We need to remember that pets can't simply be returned or discarded like a broken toy."
If you're thinking about becoming a pet owner you must also consider the place from which you will obtain your pet. Many pet stores purchase their animals from "puppy mills," mass-breeding operations so bent on making a profit that they often disregard the physical, social, and emotional well-being of the animals in their facilities. Puppy mill-raised animals can suffer from severe physical and emotional ailments, and some may even die. The only way to put these facilities out of business is to hit them where it hurts: in the wallet. Don't purchase an animal from a pet store.
Instead, head to your local animal shelter and breed rescue group, which are wonderful places to find a new pet. Nationwide, one out of every four shelter dogs is a purebred, and there are millions of healthy mixed breed animals currently awaiting good homes, too. Most of these shelter animals have already been spayed or neutered, and have received all their vaccinations and up-to-date veterinary checkups. Shelters also screen animals for adoption so they can be sure of a perfect family match.
Adoption is the best way to add a new pet to any family. Just wait until after the gifts have been opened and the New Year's corks have been popped. Your decision to wait may be the best gift you give your family this holiday season.