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The Daily Vet by petMD

The Daily Vet is a blog featuring veterinarians from all walks of life. Every week they will tackle entertaining, interesting, and sometimes difficult topics in the world of animal medicine – all in the hopes that their unique insights and personal experiences will help you to understand your pets.

Dr. Mahaney’s Musings on Bugsy Wonderdog’s Textual Mutterings in Educating Humans

Few dogs can express their intellectual capacity in a manner that will produce a piece of written work. Bugsy, a Goldendoodle who served as a constant companion to his family and as the brand mascot for Lucky Dog Cuisine (LDC), was one of those special dogs.

Although Bugsy passed away in 2011, his message lives on through Educating Humans on life from a dog’s point of view, an endearing and amusing collection of life lessons for other dogs and their care-taking humans.

Here are a few of my favorites.

On Car Rides

Bugsy holds the popular canine perspective that car rides are great, since "we [dogs] never know where we are going." Even if the trip’s destination is the veterinarian’s office, the ride is likely reminiscent of other outings until the final turn into the hospital’s parking lot.

As modern life is scheduled with numerous responsibilities dictating every waking moment, I appreciate Bugsy’s openness to uncertainty. The simpler existence most dogs lead permits the outlook that each experience is novel and potentially rewarding.

As part of my efforts to live more simply in 2012, I am striving to embody Bugsy’s positive perspective. I’ll start by taking more spontaneous car outings to the adventuresome places enjoyed by my dog, Cardiff. Perhaps a new beach or hiking trail will serve as our uncharted destination.

On Training

Bugsy hails the merits of early, consistent, and positive reinforcement based training. I agree with and embody Bugsy’s directives with Cardiff well into his adulthood. After all, good behavior strengthens the bond between humans and their canine companions.

Bugsy also notes dogs' ability to direct human behaviors typically benefitting dogs' desires. "When I pace back and forth at 5:30, you know it is dinnertime" is reminiscent of Cardiff’s habit of strategically placing a paw onto the person responsible for provision of his food.

On Computers

Bugsy shows remarkable dedication to writing "while [his] peers are all fetching, running in the park, and peeing on hydrants."

Besides being governed by primordial behaviors, Bugsy lists "The Top 20 Reasons Dogs Do Not Use Computers" (courtesy of TopFive.com). My top five favorites are:

5. Too difficult to "mark" every website they visit

4. Three words: Carpal Paw Syndrome

3. Can’t stick their heads out of Windows ’95

2. Can’t keep attacking the screen when they hear "You’ve Got Mail"

1. Butt-sniffing [is] more direct and less deceiving than online chat rooms

On Pizza

Bugsy shares his impressive knowledge of canine anatomy by describing a dog’s ability to detect pizza’s scent via the vomeronasal (Jacobson) organ. This tiny sensory structure is housed in the roof of the mouth just behind the nose and contributes to a characteristic behavior called the flehmen response.

Dogs and other animals exhibit the flehmen response upon detecting substances that stimulate their olfactory (smell) senses, such as pheromone drenched urine. Flehmen distributes the scent across the vomeronasal organ and appears as simultaneous licking, sniffing, and chewing.

I appreciate Bugsy’s instinctual attraction to pizza and frequently strive to maximize my intake of the delicious aroma.

On Spaying and Neutering

Bugsy shares an intriguing perspective that spaying all female dogs would negate the need to neuter male dogs. Such holds true when considering the situation exclusively from a population control perspective.

As a veterinarian, I am always prioritizing the best interest of my patients’ health, so I must mention that intact male dogs are more prone to testicular and prostate tumors and urethral impinging prostate enlargement than neutered male dogs.

Sorry Bugsy, but I think that we must consider both male and female sterilization when it comes to restricting reproduction and prioritizing canine health.

On Vegas

I completely agree with Bugsy’s disdain for Vegas. I just don’t connect with the appeal of "Sin City" (anymore) and the endless options for shenanigans that purportedly stay there.

As most Vegas buildings have "no grass, no windows, and not much room for running…" I feel compelled to make a run for the nearest open field or beach, preferably accompanied by an activity seeking pooch.

On Oprah

Bugsy had the "caninitarian" goal of channeling the power of Oprah to promote better canine health. If only Bugsy had met Oprah and inspired her to proclaim to her devoted legions, "don’t tether your dog, make sure you walk them every day, and feed them whole foods rather than commercial dog food."

As most commercial dog foods contain highly processed, pet grade ingredients deemed unfit for human consumption, I passionately share in Bugsy’s message of whole food feeding as a means of promoting better health.

Why would any pet loving people feed a dog any form of provision that they would not consume themselves? Does Oprah eat her dogs’ food? If they ate Lucky Dog Cuisine, then she’d likely be willing to take a taste.

Thank you, Bugsy, for sharing your insightful perspective. If all humans appreciated your life lessons, the world would be a better place.

Dr. Patrick Mahaney

Image: Bugsy Wonderdog

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