A pack of dog lovers is snapping at my heels

December 14, 2006|By Kevin Cowherd | Kevin Cowherd,Sun Columnist

There's an old saying in this business that goes like this: When you write about pets, you hear from the pet nuts.

Therefore, it came as no surprise when I received the usual e-mails from the lunatic wing of the dog-lovers lobby after a recent column about how my old dog has become a picky eater and is costing me a fortune in pricey dog food.

My favorite e-mail was the one that began: "You are an unenlightened clod ... "

At first I thought: Why in the world would my wife be e-mailing me at work?

But it turned out this was from a reader named Beverly, who went on to chastise me for complaining about the dog because the dog loves me, he's part of the family, he deserves whatever has to be done to make his life richer and more meaningful, blah, blah, blah.

More meaningful?

This is a dog that sleeps 20 hours a day.

How meaningful can your life be when all you do is sleep?

But this was a common theme in all the e-mails: the dog is part of the family, the dog is part of the family ...

To which I would respond: Yeah, he is part of the family. But he's the dog part of the family.

And the human part of the family - especially me - should not need to take a second job unloading trucks at night just because the stupid dog has developed a caviar taste in food.

Then the other morning, I picked up the newspaper that provides "Light For All" and came upon the most astounding story, which made me think of the dog nuts all over again.

There, on the front of the Maryland section, was a story by reporter Anica Butler about fat dogs.

Apparently, their owners were now taking them to doggie gyms and doggie pools so these mutts could get in shape and drop the extra pounds.

As I read this, I envisioned the dog nuts reading the story with little tears forming in their eyes as they thought: Awwww, isn't that nice?

Then, as I continued reading, I came to a sentence in the story that I just knew I would find.

That's right, in a story about nutty dog owners and the excesses they lavish on their pets, I came again upon - ta-DAA! - the f-word: family.

"Pets have long been treated like members of the family by doting owners, driving the popularity of pet spas, pricey doggie day cares and swank boarding establishments," the story read. "Now there are doggie gyms and swim centers, some of which even offer massages."

Doggie gyms and swim centers.

Massages for dogs.

Unbelievable.

Look, I am not one of those people who think the country is going to hell in a handbasket and everything was peachy until the Sixties and those hippies started screwing things up.

But when dogs start getting gym memberships so they can do laps in the pool and work out on the treadmill to lose weight - yes, that was in the story, too - it makes you wonder about our priorities.

There's another issue here, too.

Look, if you have a fat dog and you want him to lose a few pounds, isn't there an easier way to go about the whole thing than driving the mutt to a pool, blowing a whistle and shouting: "OK, give me 25 laps?"

Hey, it's a dog, OK?

It's not Michael Phelps training for Beijing.

How about just cutting back on the dog's food if you want him to lose weight?

And taking the dog for longer walks?

Doesn't that make a little more sense?

See, if the dog simply eats less and walks more, why, pretty soon the pounds are just going to melt off and ... oh, what's the use?

The dog nuts don't want to hear this.

All the dog nuts care about with these doggie gyms and swim centers is that they've found a new and even more obscene way to spoil their pets.

Maybe they really do think it makes their dogs' lives richer and more meaningful.

Whereas my dog seems to derive a lot of meaning lying on the couch for hours and hours.

He doesn't seem to feel guilty about it, either.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

To hear podcasts featuring Kevin Cowherd, go to baltimoresun.com/cowherd.

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