Friday, November 13, 2009

Man's Best Friend

It's no secret that I like dogs. Well, maybe it is a secret--I don't go around owning a dog or petting dogs or going to restaurants that serve dog--but whenever people ask I say "yep, dogs rule". And I'm not alone in that thinking--consider this: you see an action movie and the hero goes running through the enemy's headquarters machine-gunning everything and everyone in sight. In this process he kills several men--men who likely have wives and children, or at least a mother who loves them very much because they send nice cards on holidays. Men who have hopes and dreams, a favorite food, perhaps even an art project they were working on. Men whose only mistake was working for the head bad guy, probably because of a good health plan.

In this scenario, the hero may also kill some women--but of course because the movie industry automatically assumes that women working in a bad guy headquarters would be administrative staff or otherwise innocent of wrongdoing, the only women to be killed would have to be ones who've proven themselves evil already (like Famke Jansen's character in Goldeneye, or Katherine Heigl's character in every romantic comedy she's been in). (Yes, I realize it's paternalistic and sexist for the movie industry to assume that the viewer can't imagine that anonymous women could be random "bad guys" but dont' complain to me, write to Paramount).

But one thing you'll never see is the hero killing a dog--even if it's the head bad guy's dog. Even if the dog is attacking the hero! Because you and I know that the minute we see him pump some lead into a pooch, we'll be like "whoa, that was uncalled for!" See, we assume that dogs are all good on the inside and that even if they've gone bad, it's because of something we humans did to it.

It is my admiration of dogs that I have in mind when I read this story--a dog that was missing in Afghanistan being returned. A dog that has been helping our troops (or our allies' troops, to be accurate) sniff out bombs that were placed there by nutjobs. So not only do they bring us companionship and loyalty, here they are saving lives and helping us fight the nutjobs.

Try getting a parakeet to do that!

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