Thursday, April 05, 2007


Do you think Ancient Rome was over-populated with dogs just before its disintegration?

Why are there so many dogs in America today? They (and their ubiquitous owners) are everywhere; in the parks and city streets, poop-bags poised to descend on their charge's excrement at the slightest tilt of the same charge's buttocks. The dogs all seem to come attached with long leashes which their owners always seem to string out along the total width of the sidewalk, forcing walkers of the path and onto the grass.

I am a walker; and I ingest blood thinner everyday (not because I walk; for other reasons). And every day I worry: Am a doggy-bite away from bleeding to death! I know most dogs don't bite...but all it takes is one. Many years ago--pre-blood thinner--I was bitten by a dog during my daily stroll. The dog was in the owner's arms!!! When I expressed my dismay (Dismay? Nay. Pissed), the doggie's owner retorted, in a tone somewhat between apology, chagrin and defense: "He's never done that before!" I retorted, as I was heading home, to call the doctor, and an unwanted date with a rabies needle: "I'm so fucking glad he chose me to start on!!!"

Dogs are increasingly to be found in restaurants, both inside and out, lapping at water-filled doggie dishes conveniently set us by profit seeking restaurant owners who care not who they serve as long as they serve many. I experienced a walking dog on an airplane the other day. The owner--a woman (am I allowed to cite her gender without being labelled sexist?) was walking (I repeat: not carrying...WALKING) her dog down the aisle during the flight, exercising him I suppose. She looked straight ahead, avoiding all dirty looks--mine included--armed with the defiant look of doggy-love and doggy-owner-self-righteousness. Did the dog have vein problems? A very old dog? His vet require periodic walking during flight to fight thrombosis?

I suppose a nation of more and more dogs is inevitable. The upper middle class and above are worrying about overpopulating the earth with children; and even the yuppie childless need something to love. We no longer trust our neighbor (most of us don't even know our neighbors name, do we?) so we need something (a ferocious bark) to warn us against thieves and illegal aliens. And don't forget rapists; is there a correlation, you think, between the increase in the dog population and the fact of more and more single women are living alone?

Oh well. In some ways I am a hypocrite. My wife and I have had animals (pets) in the house for thirty five years. But we always said it was for the children. Now that the children are gone we have absolutely no desire for a pet. Hypocrites?

Or honest? Maybe that's what happened to Rome. Pets ARE for children. Rome disintegrated because no body wanted to grow up. Which often includes the responsibility and care primarily for other human beings!


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