While Americans worry over the plight of affordable health care, their dogs are more anxious than they’ve been since the Great Bacon Rebellion of 1890.
Dogs, of course, aren’t concerned for themselves, but for us, their Giants. As socially cooperative pack animals, they long ago solved their health care challenges through a system of eating grass, then throwing up. Coincidentally, a similar measure for humans is being considered by Congress, although it would eliminate many grasslands and restrict where the insured could puke.
How canines comprehend health law reflects what their Giants understand. Staunch conservatives and right-leaning news shows teach dogs that Medicaid recipients represent a plentiful source of food. Among moderates, dogs tend to trust Wolf Blitzer but only because his name is misleading.
In homes across America, puzzled dogs are grappling with how best to soothe their troubled Giants, and if by doing so they’ll get a cookie. But the complexities and contradictions of a health care plan are proving difficult for dogs to grasp even if they had thumbs. Still unclear:
· Is a rough coat a pre-existing condition?
· If people lose their coverage, does it grow back?
· Will the estimated 22 million Americans left uninsured by the bill be moved into shelters?
· No-kill shelters, right?
· Why don’t Giants ever have to wear cones?
· Will Medicare still kick in at age 455 in dog years?
Greatly concerned for their own personal Giants are our two dogs: Brisby, Nature’s Perfect Schnoodle, and Budleigh, a rescue terrier thing. As a French poodle, German schnauzer mix, Brisby should be ever at odds with himself. Instead, he’s caring and tolerant of everyone, provided they are squirrel-free, and often volunteers at the hospital rolling bandages for the wounded.
Budleigh, less so. Abandoned to the streets, he ran numbers for the gangs and would have ended up like Jimmy Cagney in White Heat if not for our intervention and his discovery of cheese.
While the two don’t understand or concur on a health care plan, they can sense from us that something’s up, History is being made, and golden retrievers probably are to blame. The issue has become a major topic of discussion at the dog park.
GOLDEN RETRIEVER: “…So, under this plan we could decide what we want to retrieve, or if we want to retrieve at all.”
LABRADOR RETRIEVER: “That makes sense!”
PUG: “But what if your legs are short?”
GOLDEN RETRIEVER: “Who said that?”
PUG: “Down here!”
GOLDEN RETRIEVER: “Oh, hi!”
PUG: “If you’re short, you can’t carry much.”
DACHSHUND: “Tall dogs should retrieve things for short dogs. It’s only fair.”
GREYHOUND: “No one’s forcing anyone to be short. That’s a personal choice.”
DACHSHUND: (Snarling) “Like being way skinny and running too fast?”
GREYHOUND: “That’s a pre-existing condition!”
SCHNOODLE: “Like cheese?”
TERRIER THING: “Cheese isn’t a condition. It’s a deductible. So give me yours, all ‘a you! Gimme!”
BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOG: “Is a mountain a deductible? I’ve always considered it a premium. A really, really great premium!”
GOLDEN RETRIEVER: “Okay, let’s stay on topic! Don’t stray.”
BASSET HOUND: “We won’t! There’s a fence…”
BORDER COLLIE: (Whispers to pug) “He better hope ‘stupid’ is a pre-existing condition.”
GOLDEN RETRIEVER: “Look, for a health care plan to work, Obamacare has to be repealed. It’s imploding and exploding and collapsing and it’s going to fall down and hurt someone. Probably a retriever.”
BORDER COLLIE: “Where’d you hear that?”
GOLDEN RETRIEVER: “My Giant.”
PUG: “Which one?”
GOLDEN RETRIEVER: “The yelly one.”
(Dogs groan in unison)
GOLDEN RETRIEVER: “Listen, my yelly Giant says a new health care plan will be lean and fair and take care of everything and everyone who matters!”
PUG: “My Giant says your yelly Giant makes him want to throw up.”
GOLDEN RETRIEVER: “Good! That’s covered!”
Dave Jaffe is writer/creator of Sleeping between Giants: a blog about life, if you could call it that, with a terrier.