A dog’s life sounds sort of pitiful, doesn’t it? Hold on to your crying-towels as I share with you my observations of the 21st century’s version of a “dog’s life.”

My husband and I recently took a short vacation through the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina — and no matter which side of the mountain we were on, the dogs were in control! You’ve heard of the tail wagging the dog, haven’t you? We’ve learned it’s much more serious than that!

The pups were everywhere!

There were “dog-friendly” motels and, would you believe, even daycare centers for the doggies? We noticed nowadays the puppies are allowed to sit up front in the automobiles. Some are hanging their heads out of the windows with the wind swishing back their bushy whiskers and eyebrows as they slobber and generally have a good time, while others ran the gamut of the vehicles, front to back, and all over the place.

Some of the shops were also “dog-friendly.” I mean, it can affect the monetary bottom line if the pups are not allowed on the premises. And, of course, there is so much doggy merchandise available it would make my cat fuzz her tail to take a look.

From doggie coiffeurs to doggie manicures and pedicures, doggie bubble baths to doggie dental flossing, coats, sweaters, boots, hats, beds, furniture, toys, and on and on and on. Yes, it’s a dog’s life!

One of my favorite movies is “Down and Out in Beverly Hills.” The high-class family had a pet doggie that had a shrink — yes, a psychiatrist, who made weekly and expensive consultations with the confused and troubled pup.

The well-dressed doctor would coo and pamper the pup with soft words and gentle pats (sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?) trying to determine the pup’s troubles.

Turns out it was the dog’s owner making the problem. The poor guy worked hard to make the big bucks to keep everyone happy, but making the puppy unhappy, because the man did not have an abundance of time to pamper the puppy, therefore making the doggie feel neglected. Oh, for pity’s sake!

However, this was a high-grossing film, and I did remember it today even though it’s probably 25 years old, so there was a message there, plus entertainment.

Here, in these United States, a pet equals money, and in all aspects of the industry — from the breeding and sale of high-bred pups to the pound puppies who are given royal treatment by their adoptive owners largely because of the abuse some of the doggies have suffered.

And I’m all for that. I’ve had a couple of pound puppies myself, as well as pedigreed ones. I’m especially appreciative to the vets who, at certain times of the year, offer lower costs for neutering of the little innocent ones to help keep the unwanted numbers of newborn puppies in line.

I am reminded of the cartoon showing a puppy happily riding in his owner’s car, with tail wagging, as he brags to his buddies standing at the fence, “And, we are going to the cleaner’s and the bank and then ... I’m going to the vet to be tutored!” Poor dear.

In puppy-fairness, I must include a few words concerning all of the wonderful and brave professional dogs. Those who work hard assisting so many people, such as the blind, law enforcement, dogs who work on farms, watch dogs, and the real companion dogs — those who bring sunshine into lives of the ones who need uplifting.

I have found that most nursing homes and retirement centers welcome dogs with their trainers or owners, with all shots verified by a vet, into their facilitates. The results are phenomenal, bringing smiles to faces and joy to lonesome hearts.

Recently I was at Mississippi State University and enjoyed a book review by Mark Bixler, a journalist with The Atlanta Constitution Journal and author of an awarding-winning book, “The Lost Boys of Sudan.”

It is a heart-rending account of young boys who are lost and wandering the war-torn African country in search of food and survival. It also includes the details of how some of them are rescued and brought to America. The author’s description of the young men is touching, yet unsettling at the same time, as they marvel at the luxury of food, clean water and all of the things most of us take for granted.

One particular passage caught my attention and has popped into my mind over and over. The young men were on a tour of a grocery store. After looking over many, many rows of boxed goods such as cereal, rice, and crackers, they came upon a large row of dog food.

When they asked about this row of food, they could not comprehend the meaning of dog food. The young men were perplexed as to why dogs were treated with such luxury in America when, at the same time, children were starving in their country.

Not to take the fun away from pampering our pets, but it is definitely something to think about. What has happened here? When did the doggies take over, my cat wants to know, and I want to know, too! Only in America!

Now don’t get me wrong, I love dogs, too, and we have had our share of man’s best friend. We just happen to be dog-less at the moment, but who knows what tomorrow might bring?

So, it’s a dog’s life, not too doggy, I would say!



Anne McKee is a retiree and freelance writer who lives in Meridian.

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