"No, Cujo, you been good boy this year. Not have to go summer camp at Michael Vick's place after all."
You don't have to love dogs
to take sides against Vick
By MAURY ALLEN
People think the world is divided by religion, nationality, culture, race or economic position. Fuhhggetaboutit.
I divide the world into dog lovers and just lovers.
When I was a kid growing up in the streets of Brooklyn we never had a dog in our small apartment. Neither my older brother, myself nor my parents wanted to get up early or stay up late to walk a dog in the snowy winter streets.
When I had my own family, my wife Janet always yearned for a dog. Her family had dogs. I heard more tales than I wanted about Brownie when Janet was a child or Bago (from Lake Sebago in Maine) when she was a young adult.
Then we had Maggie around our house when the kids were little. Maggie had this habit of eating up all the newspapers I left on the floor. After all, I was a newspaper man. That was my job. We put up with Maggie for a few months in the spring and summer one year. Then came the winter winds and the deep snows. No one wanted to walk Maggie. I used the weather as an excuse to ship Maggie back to her kennel. It was really the newspapers. I am sure Maggie has lived a long, wonderful life in a country home with an endless backyard.
A few more dogs made it into the house when the kids moaned and I gave in. They stayed for weeks or months on occasion until one thing or another would force my hand, constant barking, a nip here and there, a spilled water bowl, sickness or a chewed up sandal.
I only had one bad dog experience that stayed with me. Janet and I sat on a Maine beach one year near her parents summer home. The sky was picture blue and the lake was clear and glassy. We talked of maybe buying a place near there and spending our summers gliding along that lake under the pleasant Maine skies.
Then a huge dog, on its run after being out on a boat with its owner, was at my throat.
Talk about being scared witless.
Just dont move, said dog fancier Janet.
Right, I mumbled.
It was a minute or two--I thought it was six hours--before the owner tied up his boat, called out Skip, and the killer dog moved from his prey.
I give lots of latitude to pit bulls that I see, St. Bernards, boxers, mastiffs and, well, any dog moving near me. Am I afraid of them? Lets just say that Im considerate of them.
Now it comes to the Michael Vick story. The famous football player has blown a hundred million dollar football career to sponsor dog fights in his Atlanta home. The dogs are trained to bite each others heads off. The ones that dont are executed. Do I believe in capital punishment? I do. Thats another story for another day.
This ugly scene isnt really about dogs. Its about gambling. Few of Vicks pals would show up just for the sport of watching a dog bite off the face of another dog. But if you pick a dog, root like hell for him and win a few bucks in the confusion then the activity seems worth it to these people.
No one has mentioned whether Vick had a little terrier in his front porch or a Scottie in his back yard. No one really knows what his attitude about dogs really is. Well have to wait for his book, If I really sponsored these dog fights this is how I would have done it.
Stephon Marbury, the best player on the worst team in New York, the NBA basketball Knicks, defended Vick by saying people shoot deer and nobody seems to care. Marbury suggested Vick deserved another chance. For what?
I am against guns and I am against gun users whether they shoot dogs, deer, rabbits or back yard cans on fences.
Vicks conduct is just another indication of the boredom athletes battle. Their energies are in their games and when the game is over or the season has ended, they dont read books, work in the ghettos to motivate kids or travel across Africa to build housing. They look for substitute thrills.
One of these thrills for this one player seemed to be the death-to-the-end dog fights. These deadly dog fights are apparently not unique and not confined to millionaire athletes. They take place among poor people as well in the back yards of trailer parks or broken down farm houses.
I am not a dog guy but I was made pretty sick by the Vick story. I may not want one in my house but it doesnt bother me if you have one in your house. Just treat it as a family member.
Oh, one other thing I want to make clear about dogs. Im a militant pooper scooper guy and if I catch you walking down the street without your shovel and your paper bag, the cops will know about it.
©2007 by Maury Allen. The Maury Allen caricature is ©2001 by Jim Hummel. The illustration is from IMSI's Master Clips Collection, 1895 Francisco Blvd. E., San Rafael, CA, 94901-5506, USA. This column first posted Sept. 3, 2007.
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