(Photo in the public domain in the United States: Hulton Archive/Getty Images. “American actor Gloria Swanson (1899 – 1983) stands on tiptoes on the prow of a motorboat while Teddy the dog sits with his paws on the steering wheel in a still from director Clarence G Badger’s film Teddy at the Throttle (1917)”. )
By Teddy, Riverboat Sam’s dog
Sam, as I call him, asked me to fill in for him today. He needs more sleep, or so he says. Let sleeping writers lie. Sam said writers lie more when they’re awake, so let an honest dog give it a try. That’s me. Sam taught me to read and later write on his old mongrel typewriter. I’ve been typing him honest letters ever since. Some of them he doesn’t appreciate. Humans, I’ve noticed, often have a hard time with truth, especially barked.
Here’s what I’ve wanted to say to Sam and the rest of the human species for awhile now: war, the worst thing on earth, is not something any dog should be involved in. Shakespeare said, “cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war” but I say unleash us all and set us free to love whom we may. Keep the rest of us mammals out of your fighting, your human fighting and your dog fighting, too. You want to destroy each other for your various “just causes”? Go right ahead. Blow up the world to save it, if that makes you happy, but leave us canines out of it.
I’m tired of hearing how vicious and destructive wolves are and how, up in northern Wisconsin, they need to be “controlled” by being shot and trapped. It’s waging war on wolves, plain and simple. If you bothered to ask a dog, I’d tell you that wolves are hunters only, killing for food, and that dogs can help to keep wolves away from livestock without the shooting. You Homo sapiens think that shooting solves a lot of problems, but the problem is– any dog can see it doesn’t solve nothing. (Anything? Sam says there’s no excuse for dogs using bad grammar.)
Except if you want to go hunting for ducks or other tasty birds. That sort of shooting makes sense, at least to some dogs, the pointers and retrievers. But what can we bring back from war and other sorts of senseless slaughter? Yea, you can train some dogs to take part in war. But that’s no big deal. You can train some people to go to war, too.
There are many ways to serve, whether or not you’re a dog. Though it’s been kept a canine secret up till now, I might as well be honest: dogs have been trying for a long time to steer people in the right direction– a brave and generous affection for all.
Sam, who is a bit of a cynic, says most dogs are smarter than most people. I assume he excludes himself, though I, too, have piloted a boat down the Mississippi.