Copy cats and working class dogs


I just cannot begin to tell you how relieved I am to learn that scientists have finally cloned a cat. Lord knows the nation’s cat supply was dwindling alarmingly and weren’t we all getting more than a little bit nervous about that?

The cat lady. My own mother was down to a mere four or five cats herself. Now, with science on the case and cloned cats sure to roll off the presses any day now (where they will surely land on their feet), she only has 94 cats to go and she could find herself the feature story on the nightly news.

You know, the “cat lady” in every neighborhood who lives with 99 cats until the ASPCA shows up?

Come to think of it, there’s the future defense! Yesterday it was perpetual cat collecting that tripped those people up. Tomorrow it might be their “Cat Cloning Home Kit” gone crazy.

This news, of course, has caused me no end of trouble at home. Mainly with our dog who demands to know why they haven’t cloned a canine yet?

A hint of jealousy. Already smarting from his annual snub by the American Kennel Club and yet another exclusion from the Westminster dog show, I don’t know that he can take much more of this.

Steel is just a working class dog. He doesn’t have time for paperwork. Least of all the kind that traces his ancestry back to the first dog to lift his leg on Plymouth Rock.

No, he’s more a paws-on kind of guy. Every day he gets up early and puts his nose to the grindstone, or someone’s tush, as the case may be.

It’s a tough job. People just have no idea what goes into being the family dog. There are squirrels to terrorize, Barbie doll heads to chew off, and sofas to lie upon when no one is looking.

Why, the amount of time it takes to tip a trash can and disperse the old coffee grounds and shredded diapers throughout the house alone is unfathomable to someone who doesn’t do it professionally.

In fact, his position with the family is so taxing that it was necessary to bring in an auxiliary dog. Risk is our emergency back-up dog.

In theory, Risk stands at the ready, willing to spring into action and tip trash cans and pee on things should Steel be unable to fulfill his duties.

In reality, this would work beautifully if not for the simple fact that Risk is dumber than a box of dirt.

Not always like Lassie. Yeah, yeah, I know – blasphemy. Pet owners are duty-bound to swear that their pet is the smartest in the world. The very pet, in fact, that Lassie was modeled after.

Capable of rescuing them from well shafts, collapsed mines, and tipped tractors (which, come to think of it, makes us wonder why Lassie never gave Timmy’s mother a nip in the butt for not taking better care of her kid in the first place and giving a dog a break?)

Unfortunately, Risk runs into walls, not scales them. And, should you be trapped under a fallen tree, he would remove your shoes and chew them to bits long before he would think to run for rescuers.

Obedience school. Unaware at the onset that we were parenting an underachiever, we dutifully sent both dogs to obedience schooling from puppy kindergarten through canine college (proving that the disposable income and lack of hobbies of “dual income, no kids” couples know no bounds.)

Steel graduated with honors. Risk, on the other paw, was declared a remedial case and referred to circus work. Suffice to say that scientists are not yet clamoring for Risk’s DNA.

Unconditional love. In the end, while we might not clone them, we wouldn’t trade them either. Smart, dopey, dysfunctional, gifted – we love them unconditionally.

Pets are like family and that’s what one longs for from family: unconditional acceptance. Well, OK, acceptance and that maybe they would refrain from eating the couch.

(Kymberly Foster Seabolt hopes that readers who lobbied shamelessly for dog stories are satisfied. She welcomes comments c/o or P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)


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Kymberly Foster Seabolt lives in rural Appalachia with the always popular Mr. Wonderful, two small dogs, one large cat, two wandering goats, and a growing extended family.