Save the planet, fine—just don't eat my dog 

Rufus says: Don't take it out on the dog.

Right now, this very minute, there's a book being sold on Amazon.com and elsewhere with the title Time to Eat the Dog? The Real Guide to Sustainable Living.Sweet Baby Jesus! I know there are some folks who want to live in a world where everybody rides a bike and all farts smell like roses. Of course, such folks are just too precious to oil their bikes with petroleum or fertilize their roses with potassium. No, they want to eat the poor dog, just up and obliterate his carbon pawprint as part of their scheme to fix the planet.

Or maybe not. "We're not actually saying it is time to eat the dog," said Time to Eat the Dog author Robert Vale, a professor at Victoria University in New Zealand. "We're just saying that we need to think about and know the ecological impact of some of the things we do and that we take for granted."

Like, for instance, printing up truckloads of 384-page dead-tree tomes about dog-eating? Sounds like professors. The Earth's resources are precious until someone needs a book published, and then it's time to saw down some maples and slap some A1 Sauce on Old Yeller. Let me suggest that proponents of eating dogs to save the planet skip over the "just saying" and "think about" exercises, and get to work on the knowing part.

Before I further stereotype academics who've already stereotyped themselves, I have to wonder: What do Vale and his wife and co-author Brenda suggest as a substitute for running a dog through a human gastrointestinal tract? Well, I'll tell you: chickens and rabbits.

What's the easiest way to harvest chickens? Turn a few playful collies loose in the barnyard. Collies love to chase down chickens and bring the carcasses home to their human caregivers. I've witnessed this useful dog behavior myself. When the collies are done eating the tasty parts of the chickens, there are lots of feathers left over.

Here in the States, we produce about 5 billion pounds of feathers every year. What do we do with all those chicken feathers, you ask? Well, they make dandy air filters, lightweight construction materials and agricultural weed-control films. Feathers are made out of keratin, the same stuff your body uses to make your fingernails and toenails.

As for harvesting rabbits, Basset hounds were put on this earth to catch rabbits. So, you greenie professors, listen to me: You need the dogs to help you catch your prey. However, as the guardian of an elderly Basset hound who needs his rest, I'd feel better about your green cred if you assembled a group of like-minded profs who'd get barefooted and run down the rabbits themselves, caveman-style.

The Vales opine that an average dog eats about 360 pounds of meat and 200 pounds of cereal a year, which would add up to about a pound and a half of dog food every day. I don't keep stats on my dogfriend Rufus' food intake. I just feed him what the vet tells me I should feed him. I know a quarter-ton of dog food per year is a lot, but it wouldn't surprise me if Rufus ate that much or more, then defied the laws of thermodynamics by pooping out even more than that.

A pair of rabbits, the Vales say, can make 36 baby rabbits each year, providing about 160 pounds of meat. And don't you know, that's about enough to feed a cat.

This put me to thinking: There's a lot of blather about the carbon footprints of people, dogs, cows, oversized automobiles, garden tractors, gas-powered lawn mowers and paint fumes. But nobody's saying it's time to eat the cat.

Why is that? Are cat people running the eco-show? I think they are. If cat-loving greenies are going to offer up sweet and loyal dogs for sacrifice, what's wrong with eating the cat? Or, for that matter, eating a houseful of yowling, tail-switching kitties with crusty litter-coated paws? My dear, departed friend and erstwhile Special Air Service member Noel McShane took part in some king-hell survival-training adventures, and he told me that cat meat was the only meat he could eat without adding any salt. "Cat meat really ain't half bad," he said, knowingly.

In their book, the Vales say that a pair of hamsters creates a carbon footprint equal to that of a plasma television. Fine with me. Repurpose those little hamster wheels into mini-generators, and watch your plasma TV for free.

But don't go messing with people's dogs. Unless you want to end up with my carbon footprint on your behind.

Email editor@nashvillescene.com

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