Of Dogs and Cats

I read the results of an Associated Press poll today that said some 60 percent of American pet owners believe it’s okay to declaw a cat but 8 percent think it’s wrong to de-bark a dog.

Are they crazy?

First off, I’m not a cat-lover. Never have been. In fact, despite my nickname, I’ve been afraid of cats since I was a child and reached beneath a bush to pet one, only to have the imp rake its claws down the inside of my forearm.

No scars, but oh, the pain!

Still, to anesthetize a pet kitty and basically remove the first digits of its paws sounds cruel to me.

I understand some owners’ concerns about those claws. Cats do scratch — kids in the family, people who come over to visit, the furniture, the walls, whatever.

That can’t be pretty.

But cats are hunters and about the only way they can protect themselves is by scratching.

So they need their claws.

Seems to me that’s the price one pays for wanting to “own” a cat, if that’s even possible!

As for dogs, well, I’ve been a dog lover most of my life, and I can’t even visualize why someone would consider removing a dog’s vocal cords, thereby rendering it unable to bark.

While some breeds are more “vocal” than others, an owner must assess why the dog is barking — boredom, anxiety, attention-seeking, playfulness, or because every other dog around is barking (the “me, too” factor!)

Owners also should not leave Fido outside for long periods of time to annoy the neighbors; they should make sure the dog gets plenty of exercise to release pent-up energy.

I know someone who raises dogs and had several de-barked because of the constant clamor. The little things now kind of squeak, a breathy noise that sounds painful to me, though the owner says they’re not in pain and the procedure was fairly routine.

Dogs are supposed to bark. That’s their warning signal that something’s amiss. True, it might be nothing more than a squirrel tight-roping across the power lines and jumping into a nearby tree, but they’re going to let the world know about it!

I wouldn’t have it any other way.