By: William Thomas, For comments, ideas and copies of The True Story of Wainfleet, go to

A recent study conducted by Harris/Decima and commissioned by Purina concluded that Canadian pet owners prefer to socially interact with their pets rather than other people.  Well, imagine that!  Human beings in this country would rather hang out with domesticated animals instead of friends and family!  Shocking!

Are you telling me that you prefer to sit there with Tabatha on your lap who’s chucking you under your chin with her paw and purring so loud she almost drowns out the lunatic next door who’s playing “Ba Ba Ba, Ba Barbara Ann” at 88 decibels to prove to the neighbourhood he’s got even worst taste in music than the guy who went deaf listening to Metallica?

You’re not saying you’d rather wrestle with Sparky on the living room rug than watch teenagers speed by your house throwing empty beer cans on the lawn?

Because if you’re saying you prefer pets to people that is a clear violation of human rights – that is, the right of a man to stand too close to you in line at the supermarket, reeking of cigarette smoke and without being asked, regaling you in the highlights of his latest moose hunting trip to Cochrane.

A human preference of pets over real talking and upright walking people!?!  Really?  Exactly how icky have humans become when they place second in a popularity contest to creatures who have fleas and poop in your flower bed?

Bottom line:  feeding your goldfish is a more socially and emotionally rewarding experience than sitting for seven hours on an airplane next to a woman who’s a practising homeopath and keeps offering you organically-grown flax seeds.

I hope that did not sound too personal or somewhat bitter, but I am not the only one who concluded a long time ago that a family member who drinks from a dish on the floor is a lot more reliable than the tall one drinking from the bottle.

When Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver returned to England after travelling the globe and meeting the world’s complete range of human beings, some the size of his thumb and some the size of the C.N. Tower, he … moved out of the house he shared with his wife and  … into the shed with his horse.

Why?  “Because a horse is a horse, of course, of course.  And no one can talk to a horse of course.  That is, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mr. Ed.”  (Sorry but sometimes in order to get through social functions I’ll fantasize about playing ‘one potato, two potato’ in the barn with Northern Dancer.)

According to the Edmonton Journal, the study also revealed that 53% of Canadian owners find their pets more trustworthy than people.  And while 99% of Canadians talk to their pets, 33% have confided deep secrets to their four-legged friends.  (That’s probably because when their two-legged friends hear the confession they might feel morally obligated to call the police.)

I’m waiting for the survey that asks people about their preferences of children versus pets.  I’m guessing the results will prove to be a better birth control device than abstinence.

The survey went on to detail a list of pet and owner interactions including using their beloved critters and confidantes, matchmakers, personal trainers and even therapists.  I’m not sure about that last one.  I think that if you truly believe Shania Twain is sending you secret, telepathic sex messages and begging you to come live with her in Switzerland … well, Drooling Ol’ Gus might just shrug but you, sir, should really seek professional help.

Instead of Purina spending money on surveys to confirm the obvious, maybe they should just read that letter from a motel owner that’s been circulating among pet lovers for at least 20 years.

Apocryphal perhaps, but no statement on the behavior of people and pets has ever come close to nailing it like this one.

As the story goes, a man wrote a letter to a small American motel he planned to stay at on his annual two-day drive to Florida in the fall.

“I have stayed at your lovely little motel many times in the past but now I have a dog.  We’re kind of inseparable and I was wondering if he too could stay at your motel.  My dog is clean, well-groomed and very well-behaved.  I know this is a lot to ask but would you be willing to let him stay in the room with me for one night?”

The motel owner’s reply was swift and to the point.

“I’ve been operating this motel for over 30 years.  In all that time, I’ve never had a dog steal towels, linens, silverware or paintings off the wall.  I’ve never had to call the cops to remove a dog from my premises in the middle of the night for being drunk and disorderly.  And no, I’ve never had a dog take off without paying the bill.  So, yes, indeed your dog is more than welcome to stay at my motel.  And if the dog will vouch for you, you can stay as well.”

Only arrogance prevents us from admitting that pets are better beings than people.  The privilege is ours.


For comments, ideas and copies of The Dog Rules – Damn Near Everything, go to

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