By Mark Salamon, July 1, 2017
The cost of medical research is staggering, but how do you put a price tag on life saving studies like the one that just came out of the University of Cambridge that found that “children get more satisfaction from relationships with their pets than with siblings”.
If you’re thinking, “how in the world do scientists tease that kind of intricate information out of a sample of people?”, you are not alone. I myself was baffled until I read the methods, which involved asking seventy-seven twelve year olds questions like “How good is your relationship with your pet?”, “How much do you share your secrets and private feelings with your pet?”, and “How much do you and your pet disagree and quarrel?”
Not surprisingly, dogs came out on top when it came to this type of companionship, leading one medical journalist to drop the following bombshell: “Dogs - and not fellow human spawn - might be kids’ real best friends”.
Now let me just say that I have a deep love and respect for dogs for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that people who don’t know what you look like can find out by looking at your dog. In addition to this, people who don’t know your personality can find this out also by watching your dog, at least according to Caesar Millan, the “Dog Whisperer”, who has shown that if a dog is nervous, fearful, obsessive, or aggressive, they are often mirroring the feelings and “energy” of the owners.
Our first dog, Zoe, was a great dog. She loved people and other dogs and was very friendly, never aggressive. I was proud of this because, according to Caesar, it meant that we were nice, friendly, well-adjusted people with no neurotic disorders.
We went about a year between our first and second dog, and I’m not sure how this happened, but sometime in that dogless year we went from being nice, friendly, well adjusted people to fearful, nervous, aggressive people, at least according to our second dog, Crush. During this time I watched so many episodes of Dog Whisperer that all I did after a while was go pssssst, psssssssssssst to everyone, including my patients and coworkers.
We are now on our third dog, Posie. We are still a little nervous, but we are happy and playful and no longer want to kill everybody who comes near our house.
Another great thing about dogs is that if you have too much money laying around, your dog can easily dispose of it for you. The research study mentioned above is a triumphant example. I also have personal examples from each of our three dogs. Zoe relieved us of unwanted cash by eating tissues (approximately $7,000 worth). She also ate my daughter’s stockings. Well she didn’t really eat them, she just swallowed them whole. We would find them out in the back yard compressed into the shape of doggie turds. We could have literally shaken them out, thrown them in the washer, and used them again, although we never did this because money is no object and we were more than happy to buy new stockings while we were out buying tissues.
Crush developed inflammatory bowel disease, which is every bit as disgusting as it sounds and allowed us to pay top dollar for dog food made of Kangaroo meat. And Posie got a nosebleed. In sharp contrast to human nose bleeds, which require you to tilt your head back, dog nose bleeds require a skilled veterinarian to insert a special $1,500 tube up the dog’s nose.
Keeping this in mind, you should never decide on a dog based on its price, because this will be insignificant compared with the subsequent costs, including food, grooming, medicines, and vet bills. This will be true even if your dog costs ten thousand dollars.
Dogs are also invaluable in the medical field. Service dogs provide assistance and companionship for disabled people, and therapy dogs help relieve stress for those in the hospital. And dogs have also shown a remarkable ability to disprove scientific theories. Take Darwin’s theory of evolution, which says that animals evolve to have traits that improve their likelihood of survival. If Darwin had studied a couple of dogs, he would have flushed that theory down the toilet. Any dog owner will tell you that the most prominent trait that all dogs have is that they will eat anything except for imaginary objects. They have evolved to eat not only things with no nutritional value, like tissues and undergarments, but also things that are downright bad for them, like poison, poop (their own and other’s), jewelry, and power tools. If Darwin were still alive, I would like him to explain how these animals are still alive. And I’d also like to know why the only thing that didn’t give my dog diarrhea was kangaroo meat.