"The average dog is a nicer person than the average person." ~Andy Rooney
The average Joe annually eats 30 pounds of lettuce...give-or-take a little. (Ancient Egyptians even had a god dedicated to both sex and lettuce...maybe that's why we have Green-Goddess dressing?) Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, third president of the United States, notable architect, noteworthy gardener, and obvious foliage fetish-ist had tons of lettuce growing in his gardens at Monticello, too.
Why all of this talk about lettuce? (Give me a minute...I'm only at the tip of the iceberg!) While educating people about vegetarian-ism and plating up scrumptious veggie chow, PETA's "Lettuce Ladies" are decked out in only this particular purposefully positioned plant life. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is the world's biggest animal-rights organization, and the "Lettuce Ladies" help boost public consciousness about the millions of destitute critters who are in need of compassionate quarters, as well as the significance of spaying and neutering pets.
PETA, of course, is concerned about cruelty to all types of animals (rabbits, chimps, cats, etc), something we remember this August 21 for National Homeless Animal Day. So while they're not the only mistreated species, many canines endure abuses in factories, farms, laboratories, breeding mills and even as household pets. And that's how we came to our pooch -- Jack.
Ten years ago, this sweet-yet-wacko high-maintenance cocker spaniel came into our lives. He'd been confined in a basement in hopes of someone eventually taking this "gaping wound of need" (it's what I sometimes lovingly call him) off his current owners' hands.
Enter stage left, my partner Richard and me. (Actually? Much more him than me...did I just hear the Mighty Mouse theme song "Hear I Come to Save the Day"?). He's a sucker for a dog no matter what it looks like, smells like or acts like, and he'll pet anything that wets on a sidewalk. (Luckily we live in a dog-friendly town.)
And when Richard's dog-less he's just not complete. You know the type...strong, tall, handsome and not overly chatty, but he's the kinda' guy who just needs a dog to make "oou-woo-woo" noises to -- in the presence of others or not. But what neither of us knew when we took Jack in was that he wasn't some who-dunnit-of-a-mutt but instead some purebred thing-a-ma-bob spaniel. He was chocolaty, matted and covered with God-knows-what, and stylishly "toughened-up" with a pit bull collar.
Despite his state we took him in, and after a good washing in the yard followed by a trip to a professional groomer. Underneath it all we discovered a beautiful blond American cocker, and ever since, he's been a fixture in our lives. He's adorable. He's so over-groomed and "girly" that his masculinity often stands in question (he kinda looks like Lady from "Lady and the Tramp").
But left alone he's all man -- no question -- he tears the house apart. He's eaten through bedding, buried a cantaloupe in a couch (hmmm...snacks for later), has jumped on the dining room table and eaten a huge Valentine's Day heart-shaped box of chocolate -- foil wrappers and all. On occasion he's gone through the trash (tearing the cabinet doors off their hinges in the process, I might add.)
But you know it's a dog's Christmas in July when your puppy's gotten into the mother lode of garbage -- the stuff that's in the trash the day the refrigerator's been cleaned. Our "precious" bellied-up to brown squishy bananas, half-turned grapes, cucumbers that had somehow become liquidly, a hunk of long-forgotten and now sky blue soy cheese, twelve-grain bread so hard that you could pave a driveway with it, and even a spent bouquet of flowers. He even tried to eat the box of baking soda found under the sink. But what he didn't touch...you got it...was the lettuce. If I had known then to sprinkle the baking soda into the garbage he might not have smelled the "goodies" in the first place.
Yoo-hoo...here's the tip: Sprinkling baking soda over your garbage is a great way to minimize odors offensive to you, and hopefully your pet, too.)
Maybe that's why PETA and the "Lettuce Ladies" choose that specific cover-up: I'm not certain it's dog-proof but I know that it's "Jack-proof." But no matter, PETA and the Ladies work tirelessly to help rescue homeless animals. They save them, offer school kids special trainings about them, search for abandoned pets, stage sit-ins at pharmaceutical labs, hold swanky social events to raise money, and continually lobby for the humane treatment of animals.
So if you're the kind of person who absolutely, positively must have a beast of the four-legged variety, know that for every dog or cat purchased from a breeder or a pet store, another at a shelter is destroyed. Your rescued companion animal may not be a Snoopy, Garfield, Lassie, Sylvester or even Rin-Tin-Tin, but by making the "greener" choice by taking in a spayed or neutered stray, you'll have decades of swell companionship and stories of questionable doggie-deeds to tell, too.
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