When I was a kid, I always wanted a dog that’d act like the ones you see on TV, the Old Yeller or Lassie style of canine companion—a dog that would sleep at the foot of your bed, snuggled up to you, with all the loyalty and security of having some large, tamed canid just a scratch away.
Of course, now that I have one, I see all the downsides: dogs hog the center of the bed since they’re not stupid enough to want to fall off, prevent you from getting your fair share of sheets by trapping them with their body, tend to wake you up whenever they’re walking around trying to get down, and god help you if they blow a fart. On the flipside, I’m not so sure they’re pleased when you roll over onto them in the middle of the night, so I guess it balances out. (See, this totally would have worked when I was kid-sized.)
Anyways, what this reminds me of is a local news special I saw a few months ago, probably while I was waiting for SNL to come on. They had a good ten-minute section about the dangers of having pets in the bed with children, including a laundry list of maladies: fleas, ticks, toxoplasmosis, salmonella, trichinosis, worms, cat scratch fever, lyme disease, rabies, scabies, shingles, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, mad cow disease, feline AIDS, cancer, even death.
(Dead serious on that last one; that was the final point on their list, with some chocolate lab puppy beaming up at the camera and panting. At this point I’m pretty sure they’re just adding and even death to every special they do, to drum up attention.)
I mean, seriously? Most of these are dead-on-obvious maladies that the layman can diagnose, and if your pet is sick, or has parasites, you’re a moron if you knowingly put a sick pet near your kids. If your dog has been rolling around in dead fish and raw sewage, give it a bath before letting it rest for long uninterrupted hours next to Junior. If your cat has worms, probably not the best idea to let it sleep on your infant’s face. (Besides, the TV people told me cats are dirty, dirty thieves and steal an infant’s breath.) And salmonella, really? Who the hell let their kid sleep with a turtle?
I’m not sure what’s worse: that this just reinforces my opinion that local news is sophomoric and uninformative shit, or the terrifying realization that there are people out there who need to be told “if your dog is covered in poop, wash it before it sleeps within reach of your child.”