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Why such a lack of common sense about dogs?

I can’t believe what I am seeing in dog food advertisements. Good old Rover is shown licking people on the face, once even licking a child on the lips. This is so disgustingly unhygienic to me that I have to wonder if there is something going on here I don’t know about. Doesn’t the present generation of pet owners understand where else that dog might have been licking moments earlier? Do I have to spell it out?

We all used to know that dogs carry parasites that can be transmitted to humans. By parasites I mean worms. Yes I know that the well-cared for pet dog is routinely wormed and medicated just like children are, but you don’t want any dog licking your child on the lips. The risk is too great. If you don’t believe me, read any straightforward discussion of animal hygiene and note how widespread is the problem of humans getting worms from pets, especially dogs.

I am constantly amazed at people who get so distraught over the idea of using composted dog manure for garden fertilizer but who think it is just so cute when cuddly little Bow-Wow drools all over them. I think the problem traces directly to the lack of experience in husbandry that our present culture suffers from. You can deify or humanize pets if you wish and provide them with luxuries even lots of humans can’t afford, (and then complain about paying taxes to help people on welfare) but in the end, an animal is an animal and it does not think like a human. Dogs have been known to pick up a baby and shake it to death in innocent play.

The kind of society that thinks its okay to let dogs lick children on the lips is the same society that wants to tell farmers how to raise livestock. Granted that some farm practices are unnecessarily cruel to animals and need to be changed, the kind of mind that allows face-licking dogs should be humble enough to listen to what farmers have to say too about animal care. I have dehorned calves, docked lambs, castrated pigs, scraped maggots out of a sheep’s hide, punctured a hole in a bloated cow with a pocketknife to save its life, and watched my wife sew up animal wounds with darning needle and thread. I will be blistered for saying this, but I must stand by my experience. Animal pain and discomfort is not like what humans feel. When you catch a pig to castrate it, it will let loose ungodly squeals and continue to do so as you do the castration. But the split second you let loose of it, the castrated pig quits squealing and RUNS away. Once I took a lamb to the vet to fix a bulging rupture in its groin. He put it to sleep of course, fixed the rupture, and I took the lamb home. A human so operated on— I’ve had two rupture operations myself— would need days to recuperate. I took that lamb out to the pasture, let it loose, and it BOUNDED across the grass as if it were halfway through a beer party.

We hear much about too much crowding of livestock in buildings and indeed this has become a problem. But the full picture must also be recognized and taken into account. As I write this, my sheep are by their own volition crowded together cheek to jowl in the barn because they feel more comfortable there than slumbering under the trees in today’s cool May breeze out at the pasture’s edge. In winter, even when the temperature drops below zero, they will prefer to sleep outside the barn in the snow. It doesn’t make sense to us but it does to sheep.

Condemn me for what I am trying to tell you if you wish. But before you do, get some experience in the real world of animal husbandry. And please, please, do not let dogs lick you or your child on the lips.

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