News and Tribune

October 23, 2013

CUMMINS: Can dogs be considered people?

Local columnist

— Most dog owners believe dogs are people, because they’ve served as man’s best friend since the first one crawled out of the sea. Cats are man’s second best friend and parrots are third, but you can’t take parrots out for a walk under current leash laws. People used to rank much higher as friends. But now that most of them are on Facebook and your primary means of communicating with them is texting, a house dog can be someone to have direct human intercourse with.  

The Bible addresses everything under the sun including dogs, which thou shalt have, as it is written in Mark 8:27-8: “He said to her, First let the children be satisfied; for it is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the house dogs. But she answered him, yes, Lord, yet the house dogs under the table eat from the children’s scraps.” What lessons can we learn from this? First, children should come first, and secondly, house dogs help keep the house clean.  

If big government prohibited house dogs, Americans would probably go nuts, as many have. But you can escape the horror that is in Washington by having a dog to re-assure you. A recent survey revealed that vicious animals outnumber people in Washington by five to one. One human characteristic that dogs don’t have is they don’t play politics. But if dogs possessed all human characteristics, would some of them join the tea party? Only the rabid ones would.

If dogs are persons, the scientific community should prove it. They are, as reported in Professor Gregory Berns book, “How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain.” He adopted a mutt, named her Callie, and trained her to lie perfectly still in a M.R.I. machine. I also was trained to lie still in a moving, noisy M.R.I. thing, too, when I had an unbearably painful pinched hip nerve. “Lie still,” he said. I moved. “Do it again,” he said. I expressed all sorts of human emotions and threw a childish temper tantrum like I’d seen on the House floor.

Professor Bern’s team trained 11 other dogs to undergo the scan. We won’t go into all the scientific stuff other than a dog’s brain is similar to the human one in several respects. He found that a dog’s “caudate nucleus” was like that in the human brain. Rich in dopamine receptors, the caudate plays a role in the anticipation of things we enjoy like food, love and money. Dogs don’t enjoy money, thank God, but they do enjoy food. Therefore if a master provides food, wouldn’t his dog love him? I would.

There is a need for more research to determine canine capacity to reason and think. But we’re still not sure how far man can think. Look at human behavior all around you, the anguish and hostility in shutting down Obamacare. Repealing it is as critical as when the earth was flooded and saved by Noah, who rounded up the animals.  This time, it’s not water, but fire, hellfire that only man ignites.

Despite the flaws in human beings, personified in D.C., man has one last sanctuary, his dog. Not if, but when dogs are proven to have human characteristics and legally attain personhood, we’ll need large amounts of new legislation. Who will fight against the Canine Civil Rights Act of 2014? It’s another expense for the treasury, but we’ll need a Rover Police force, a reasonable health care system for them and, obviously, President Obama will recommend an appropriation for Dogfood Stamps. Can you imagine the debate on the two floors?  

Sen. Crap will talk for 21 hours. He is not against any dog or human, who loves the Constitution more than God. He’ll fight against the large segment of the dog population (and growing) that live on and expect more government entitlements. He’s not against a dog that wants to start a small business, but insists that all dogs pull up their four bootstraps, chase rabbits to work their way out of poverty.

Is life absurd, or what? Is D.C. a kennel? About the only stability in this modern age is a person’s relationship with his dog. When I feel pain, my dog feels pain. I talk and he listens. He then comes up, rubs his nose against my leg and all is well. Should science train dogs to talk? No, talking causes all of man’s problems.

— Contact Terry Cummins at