Opinion | Morgan Liddick: Gimme shelter dogs | SummitDaily.com

Opinion | Morgan Liddick: Gimme shelter dogs

Morgan Liddick
Special to the Daily
Morgan Liddick lives in Summit County. His column appears in every Tuesday in the Summit Daily News.
btrollinger@summitdaily.com |

No politics today. It’s just too frustrating. Let’s talk puppies instead.

I admit from the start I am more partial to cats. They’re independent more or less; I’ve always suspected that if they had opposable thumbs, they would have no need of human staff. Dogs are far more dependent, interactive, needy: in many ways, they are the perfect pet for liberals, who seem forever motivated by the need to take care of something, enhancing their self-importance thereby.

Dogs do, however, possess the virtue of loyalty. With few exceptions, once a member of a human pack, they will cleave to it through thick and thin. Plus, at least a few of them are non-alergenic; important for those who break out in sneezing fits at the sight of a cat. So after the demise of Kotchka the Psycho Kitty, we were in the market for some form of poodle crossbreed; a schnoodle seemed about right.

There are advertisements for these sorts of dogs: schnoodles, labradoodles, bichonnoodles and god-knows-what. Bidding generally starts at $900, which seemed a bit steep to someone whose experiences with dogs generally began something like “You guys have a farm. How about a puppy?” Mostly, the answer was yes, the dog was a variation on a Labrador and the size varied between “ginormous” and “really, really big.” Not appropriate for us at present, so we went another way.

After trolling the Internet for a few months, we found a promising site: “Muttsavers.” They are a puppy rescue group, specializing in saving dogs scooped up by animal control and warehoused in kill shelters. One weekend, they had a dog with our name on it.

Pepper came from doggie death row in Kansas, where his time was running out. He’s a Schnauzer-and-something, possibly Jack Russell from the size of his mouth and his energy level, usually hovering somewhere around “sustained thermonuclear reaction.” When we picked him up his age was estimated at about nine months; his tail had been docked but he hadn’t been neutered. And then, something had happened; who knows what. When animal control in Salina picked him up, they estimated that he had been living on the street for three months or more. He was a matted mess and had several intestinal parasites. But he fulfilled all of the wife’s requirements: he was small, cute and active. We paid the modest adoption fee and left with our new dog.

Pepper went without delay to the Frisco Animal Hospital, where he was neutered, had necessary dental work done, got shaved to remove months’ worth of matted fur and was treated for giardia and a couple more indicators of bad karma. When he came home, he was like a whole new dog. Thanks, guys.

That was eighteen months ago. Now Pepper fetches, sits, stays and in general acts as a lookout for the human pack, keeping his eye peeled for suspects whose presence he announces with a torrent of the most indignant barking he can muster. He’s over most of his odd phobias involving garbage trucks and earthmoving equipment, although he still has a morbid fascination with storm drains. And he loves nothing more than enough fresh snow that he can plunge his head into it until only his giant ears are visible. Except maybe using his nose as a canine snowplow as we walk along. All of which leads me to two very important questions.

First, to quote the learned Ernest P. Worrell, “Who would throw away a perfectly good dog?”

Second, why would one buy a dog, when there are such examples of canine awesomeness available for adoption every day? Check shelters first — you won’t be disappointed.

Finally, some observations on responsible dog ownership. Summit County has a leash law for several reasons. Yes, I know everyone thinks their dog is under voice command, but believe me there will be a point — another hound too enticing not to sniff, a seductive pile of awfulness to roll in, or maybe the Nemesis Squirrel — at which all commands will go out the window. Away the pooch will go, to an end it may not deserve, or like. Be safe, not sorry.

Lastly, THERE IS NO POOP FAIRY. Shocking, I know, but true. That’s why many neighborhoods offer free bags to clean up with. This is important because canine leavings are an important vector for the spread of disease, including Giardia, Hookworm and Whipworm. So don’t be a sociopath. Clean up after the pup. He’d do it if he could, but there’s that opposable thumb problem, again.

Good owner …

Morgan Liddick lives in Summit County.

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