Tyrades! By Danny Tyree

At my house we've TRIED being responsible pet owners in 2012. We feed our four-legged companions Science Diet pet food, provide them a warm place to sleep, carry them for regular vaccinations and give them plenty of attention. We've discussed making tough quality-of-life decisions about seizure-prone geriatric dog Turpy. We just got adopted stray tomcat Trafalgar (a.k.a. Fogger) neutered.

Cam Cardow / Ottawa Citizen (click to view more cartoons by Cardow)

(And we've tried to use the term "neutered" instead of "fixed," so as not to add insult to injury. Illogical euphemisms must be an ordeal for pets. "They put me in a strange room, brandished scalpels and then the Orwellian Newspeak started. Fixed???? It's a nightmare I'll never...oooo, a new place to curl up...")

But we know that a lot of people are NOT behaving responsibly. Pets are living in cramped, unsanitary conditions or roaming the streets.

No one starts out to be an irresponsible pet owner. But common misconceptions can get in the way of common decency.

Parents, bless 'em, have such unreasonably high expectations for those cute Easter chicks and bunnies. ("Johnny and Fluffy will bond forever. He'll take Fluffy to meet his girlfriend's parents, teach Fluffy to play shuffleboard at the senior center...if he'll just stop playing with the &^%$# box that Fluffy came in!")

Like the "Honest to God, I thought turkeys could fly" line from TV's "WKRP In Cincinnati," sincere people find themselves muttering, "Honest to God, I thought my neighbors would use smaller caliber ammunition when I showed up at the door with a basket of asthmatic kittens!"

"Is it I?" you may be asking. "Am I the irresponsible pet owner?" Well, there are a few tell-tale signs of such laxity:

If the little castle for your aquarium comes complete with British royals hanging around sponging off the fish, you're probably an irresponsible pet owner.

If you're waiting for military drone technology to trickle down and be utilized in pooper-scoopers, you're probably an irresponsible pet owner.

If your little hamster wheel needs a ROAD HAZARD WARRANTY, you're probably an irresponsible pet owner.

If your pet hears "Maybelline" on the radio and suffers flashbacks about his summer job, you're probably an irresponsible pet owner.

If the laser pointer you use to entertain your cat was bought from a James Bond villain's garage sale, you're probably an irresponsible pet owner.

If all you whisper to your horse is The Wit and Wisdom of Joe Biden, you're probably an irresponsible pet owner.

If you let your pet mark his territory on the West Bank or knit him a cute little ninja suit for crossing streets, you're probably an irresponsible pet owner.

If you arrange "speed dating" for your tree sloth, you're probably an irresponsible pet owner.

If you're jealous of how many teeth your chicken has, or your pooch's latest "chew toy" is a free sample from a vendor at a tractor pull, you're probably an irresponsible pet owner.

On the other hand, if you provided a place for your dog to bury bones in Switzerland or the Cayman Islands, you're probably OVERCOMPENSATING.

Diet resolutions and clutter removal resolutions are fine, but I hope you'll save room among your New Year's pledges for resolving to be a more responsible pet owner.

Fluffy would have wanted it that way.


©2012 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes reader e-mail responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page "Tyree's Tyrades". Danny's' weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate. For info on using columns, please email Cari Dawson Bartley at [email protected] or call 800 696 7561.