Wednesday, October 13, 2010



While living in the Boston’s affluent South End, a few years ago, I noticed that there existed a plethora of high-end bakeries, stores, and grooming shops that were not for people-but for dogs.  In fact, there were more doggie bakeries than there were people bakeries.  Strangely, these biscuit-making establishments seemed to be crowded from the time I hurried to New England Medical Center, until the evening when I returned exhausted, weighed down by my backpack full of physiology texts and three-ring binders.

Three months later, as I was struggling to comprehend the complexities of kidney function, I began to wax philosophical about the fashionable sweaters I saw donned by the incredibly well-groomed canines in my neighborhood.  “Why are these dogs wearing sweaters when it’s 50° F?  Don’t they have fur?"  I'm furless and I certainly wasn’t ready to wear my jacket yet.  Images of dogs dressed for tee time seemed to indicate that dogs were moving  up the evolutionary ladder.  Within days, however, I would see lawyers, wearing $1800 power suits, loosely gloved with inside-out plastic bags.  They would crouch just above dark red bricks lining the sidewalk to pick up the excrement of their beloved "buddy."

“What the hell?” I would ask myself.  I thought about what these dogs meant to their owners and, more importantly, what an alien would think if it landed in my neighborhood.  "What would it concur?"  Unfortunately I’d never be able to find out.  So I had to go on being the only person in the neighborhood (or perhaps all of North America) who felt this way.  Certainly the doggie clothing boutique owner didn’t share my sentiments.

And then one day, as I returned from a full day of classes, recitations and labs, it hit me. Dogs were not becoming more advanced.  On the contrary, humans were devolving.  "That's it," I thought. "Man has reached a point at which he has actually begun to move backwards."  Dogs were domesticated by man several thousand years ago to provide protection against  predators while he slept.  But at some point during the modern era, dog usurped man’s power and manipulated man into serving the canine species.  Why this has occurred is beyond my comprehension. Regardless, my theory is that, man has moved evolutionarily backward.  Does anyone rely on his golden retriever to warn him of a burglar?  Most likely, the (fully-grown) “puppy” would be the first to run and hide. 

Lest I be banished from the planet for not being a dog-lover, let me clarify my point of view: I think that people who own animals should treat them humanely, but not treat them as humans.  In fact, I have read veterinary studies that support this notion.  It simply isn’t good for the canine species, many studies contend, for pet dogs to be pampered in this manner.  Nevertheless, I strongly believe that dogs, and pets in general, should be well-fed, cleaned appropriately, and interacted with in a positive manner.  But the next time you see Wolfie exiting a doggie spa, munching on a $5 freshly-baked organic biscuit, I really hope you wonder, “Who’s the owner here?” 

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