Monday, 28 April 2008
How Much Is That Rabid Doggie in the Window?
For many years the English have been ridiculously proud of being rabies-free. The country might have its problems but snarling, foaming Cujos are not among them. That's one of the benefits of being an island. It's simple really: Keep the rabid mammals out, drive out the poisonous snakes, fix it so the dinosaurs can't reproduce, and you'll be just fine.
Except when you're not. Last week three Londoners who work with animals started receiving rabies shots after they'd been nipped by a rabid puppy. Wait a minute. If there's no rabies in England, how can someone in London be bitten by a rabid dog? By importing a rabid dog from another country, of course. The puppy in question was one of 13 brought from Sri Lanka by a charity group that rescues street dogs from that island (!) nation. As if England doesn't have enough abandoned animals, these people are airlifting rabid dogs into London. Maybe they could just let the Sri Lankan street dogs fend for themselves on the mean streets of Sri Lanka?
Fortunately for the staff at Chingford Quarantine Kennels, the current treatment for rabies isn't the one we all grew up fearing: a series of painful injections right into the stomach. I know this because My Lovely Wife was treated for rabies. Strictly a precautionary measure, of course. When she was in college her family's dumb, lovable Weimaraner, Max, got in a tussle with a raccoon which may have been rabid. (In America, we assume that all raccoons out and about after 5 a.m. or so are rabid. It's tough being a raccoon.) Ruth cleaned Max's injuries, potentially exposing herself to the nasty virus. She was treated the modern way, with one shot of gamma globulin in her buttocks and a single injection of vaccine in her arm. She kept the empty ampule of vaccine in her medicine cabinet for many years. The first thing a nosy person opening her medicine cabinet would see was a little brown bottle marked "RABIES VACCINE." One tended to tread carefully near her after that.
The world's largest animal charity, the RSPCA, announced this week that last year it rescued some 150,000 animals in Britain. No one can be so cynical as to find humor in abandoned pets, but some of the reasons owners gave to the RSPCA for giving up their animal companions are a bit... well, "funny" isn't the right word. They do show how idiotic humans can be:
"My cat doesn't match my new carpet."
"My dog doesn't match the new sofa."
"I thought chinchillas only lived for two years - I don't want a pet that lives for 20."
"I've got a new puppy that is too boisterous for our old dog - can you take the old dog away?"
"Our kitten isn't playful enough with our children."
"We don't want our three rabbits because they don't come out to greet us."
"I've got two elderly terriers and I don't want them to get the new carpet dirty."
"I'm going on holiday."
"My dog keeps hiding my shoes."
"Our cats sleep on the stairs. I don't want my daughter to trip over them when she comes to stay."
"She hurts my legs when she wags her tail."
"My dog barks a lot."
"I've just bought a new leather sofa and I don't want the cat to scratch it."
"Our dog gets jealous when we sit together."
"My cat goes on the Internet and orders jewelry I can't afford."
Okay, I made that last one up.
Despite the 150,000 abandoned critters, the British love their animals. It was reported last week that a Devon sanctuary for donkeys received 20 million pounds in donations in 2006, 3 million pounds more than was given to a charity for battered women. There have been complaints that such a discrepancy is out of whack, but, really, isn't a donkey cuter than a battered woman?
As one donor told the Guardian: "People always ask me, why donkeys? I can only say it's just a deep passionate love, really. It's not something you grow out of. When you fall in love with a donkey, you've had it really. You're hooked."
Passionate donkey love. I don't even want to think what sort of Google searches that will get me.
Bowling With Brooker
Great column today by the Guardian's peerless Charlie Brooker on the ridiculous way American TV is covering Obama and Clinton's every burp and fart, as if something can be gleaned by the way Obama eats a burrito or goes bowling. An excerpt: "The focus on conjecture and analysis has reached such an insane degree that pundits are chasing some kind of meaning in the way a presidential candidate scratches his face. This is what lunatics do when they think people on television are sending them personalised messages.... Except the lunatics have an excuse: they're lunatics. Lunacy is what they do. It's in their job description."