By Nury Vittachi IANS | 9 months ago

My wife says dogs are simple-minded, appetite-driven beasts which can be tamed with a strict system of treats and punishments. No, wait, that's what she says about "husbands".

I forget what she says about dogs, which is a shame, since I need to send it to a reader who told me of an out-of-control dog eating her owner's sports car.

This British mutt, named Luce, chewed away a biggish chunk of one side of his owner's Aston Martin, a car that costs a fortune, equal to the GDP of a small country, or the price of a bottle of mineral water in Tokyo. Annoyed owner Royston Grimstead kept the car and gave the dog away.

Wrong! If you have to choose between a car and a family member, you should ALWAYS keep the family member. Particularly if you are a relative of Rhian Jeremiah, 26, of Wales. According to a link sent by the same reader, Jeremiah was recently convicted of biting through the roof of a Fiat 500. "I could hear metal crunching," the car owner told the court.

Now if you are anything like me, you are by now seriously wondering what cars taste like. So I did some serious academic research (i.e., a Google search). It turned up a New York Daily News item on a car-eating squirrel in Florida last year, who only ate Toyotas, so that's apparently the best-tasting car brand.

But are dogs simple-minded? Maybe. A vet told me that a dog's brain is just one-tenth the size of a human one. Yet to be fair, dogs' brains are twice as large as those of cats, squirrels and nationalist politicians - no offence intended to cats and squirrels.

Fear not. Scientists say lack of intelligence is often an evolutionary advantage. Take Rocky the mongrel, for example. No one paid much attention to him, until last week, when a wild leopard came out of the jungle and entered the building in India where he slept. The not-very-smart mongrel assumed the intruder was a cat and attacked him. The surprised leopard fled. Local newspapers in Mumbai declared Rocky a hero, but in the photos the stunned dog looks like he's thinking: "Oh shoot, that wasn't a cat at all, was it?"

Now, if you want a truly brainy pet, go for a parrot. A huge number of readers (two) sent me the tale of Hercule Parrot, a parrot in Agra who was the only witness to a murder. At an identity parade, the bird looked at the victim's nephew and said: "He has killed! He has killed!" The surprised man soon confessed. Being charged with murder is bad enough, but imagine the shame of being outwitted by a creature with a brain the size of kidney bean. (All teachers know this feeling.)

Having said that, the bird probably had more brainpower than my own personal dog, who attacks family members but gives strangers a friendly licking. I think she studied her "How To Be a Dog" book upside down.

Anyway, I've finished this column so I need to go lick my wife's hand, see if she'll pat me on the head and give me a snack! Woof woof.

(Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveller. Send ideas and comments via www.mrjam.org)

(Posted on 07-03-2014)

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