The list of things that shouldn’t happen to a dog forms an interesting cul-de-sac in the public discourse. According to finance writer Jane Bryant Quinn, “What happens to whistle blowers in this country shouldn’t happen to a dog.” Screenwriter Stephen Schiff believes that “having a lawyer in the editing room is something that shouldn’t happen to a dog.” Men’s Health magazine assures us that certain kinds of foot problems shouldn’t happen to a dog, and the Federal Communications Commission avers that slamming long-distance phone customers–a practice wherein a provider transfers a customer’s account to another provider without first obtaining that customer’s consent–shouldn’t happen to a dog either. Ironically this did happen to a dog when Qwest Communications International forged the signature of a customer in order to pass him to another provider only to discover that the customer had signed up for service in his dog’s name.
“It shouldn’t happen to a dog,” which is believed to be Yiddish in derivation, has served as the title of a book, a movie and an episode of “Bewitched.” I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing or reading any of these yet, but I have heard the expression “it shouldn’t happen to a dog” often enough to realize that many of the things people believe “shouldn’t happen to a dog” are actually things that shouldn’t happen to people. Why would a dog care if there was a lawyer in the editing room or if details of a tryst with the dog next door wound up on the Internet?
This is not to say there aren’t things that shouldn’t happen to a dog. Unfortunately, however, we humans tend toward speciesism in thought as well as deed, and our kennel blindness causes us to overlook some of the truly shocking misfortunes that shouldn’t happen to a dog. In order to correct that imbalance I would like to present eleven things that truly shouldn’t happen to a dog.
11. Electronic fence collar becomes sensitive to the Oprah satellite.
10. New ID tag contains a sell-by date.
9. Starts to look like his owner, who resembles Jonathan Winters.
8. Starts to look like female owner, who resembles Jonathan Winters.
7. Somebody dumps a transistorized dog on doorstep; owners decide to keep it.
6. Cat learns to program doggie door.
5. Encounters chalk drawing of flattened self on the sidewalk while walking with owner.
4. Owner’s new boyfriend lifts leg around the house.
3. Home security alarm goes off five minutes after owners leave the house to take in a movie.
2. Starts to look people-eared.
1. Picture taken with Santa shows up on a milk carton.