Opinion from the doghouse 

 Why I chase cars
[and why don't you?]

Putnam Pit opinion editor
C. 1997 The Putnam Pit

In my opinion, only a poodle would not chase cars, but my human does not share that opinion.

I have been scolded, I have endured standard rolled-up newspaper spankings, and I have suffered through the withholding of doggie treats as punishment for my so-called transgressions. Believe me, it is not easy being a dog in a man's world. Fortunately instinct has taught me that most humans can be successfully dealt with on the basis of some very simple premises: 

  1. what my human does not know will not hurt him, and
  2. a cute puppy face will almost always sway my human's action in my favor. 

For the life of me I cannot understand why my human wishes to deny me the simple cannine pleasure of chasing cars. I think perhaps he fears that some day I might catch one and drag it into the yard like old beer cans and road kills I find. Or it could be that he is afraid I will dig another big hole in the flower bed to bury the car. Maybe he thinks I will sneak the car into the house and hide it under the stairs where he found his shoe I chewed. 

Regardless, I am a dog and I am going to chase cars. 

In accordance with premise #1, car chasing is best carried out whenever my human is away from home. Over the years I have learned most of the habits of my human. For instance I know that every morning he leaves home and each afternoon he returns at almost the same time. He seldom varies his routine. Sometimes I pity the poor creature for it seems to me that he leads an extremely boring and structured life. 

Each morning as soon as he drives away I am off to the races, snapping, spitting and snarling at every toxic tainted tailpipe that comes down the pike. By mid-afternoon I am exhausted and ready for a nap so I stretch out in the warm sunshine to catch some Z's. Soon my human returns home and finds me fast asleep in the yard. He rewards me with a pat on the head for being such a "good boy" and for watching after things while he was gone. Then he lets me inside the house for a milkbone treat. 

Can you believe it? That silly human thinks the only thing I do is hang out all day waiting for him to come home so he can scratch me between the ears and toss me a cookie! 

Occasionaly even the best laid plans of a dog can go awry. Last week I heard a car coming across the hill. I crouched low and was poised to strike. Sleek muscles twitched in antcipation while I waited to spring into action. At exactly the correct moment I lunged forth in hot pursuit stretching out in full stride. Soon I was eyeball to eyeball with the passing motorist. 

I noticed then that this was not a passing motorist. It was him -- my human! "What are you doing here?" I wondered. "You are not due home for hours." 

He slowed to turn into the drive and my tail drooped between my legs. I trotted along meekly following his Jeep as it made its way up the drive. I was sure a harsh scolding was at hand. With premise #2 in mind I put on my "cute puppy face" and I did my best "happy to see you" dance. 

It didn't work. 

"Why? Why do you think you have to chase cars?" I sensed both his anger and his disappointment as he looked down to scold me. 

"Alas," I thought, "You are only human. I am not sure that you are capable of understanding." I wondered if he could sense my anger and my disappointment as I looked up into his scowling face. 

You are human, you are mankind. You are the only species that destroys his own environment -- the species that spoils the environment for the rest of us who call this planet home. 

You want to know why I chase cars?

 Okay, I'll tell you why I chase cars! A major source of air pollution, your car and countless millions like it are poisoning the air that I breathe. I don't like it! 

"What will I do if I catch one?" you ask mockingly. When finally I do catch that car I'll want to tear it to shreds. I'll want to drag the driver from his seat and ask him where he's going; ask him why he never walks or rides a bike or carpools. I'll ask him how much longer will he continue belching out excessive noxious fumes wherever he goes. 

You are human, you are mankind. You have the technology now to redeem past environmetal mistakes before you create new environmental blunders. I am that technology. Let me bury them! I know I can.

But noooooo. You want to tell me about the new battery-powered vehicles (BPVs) that your scientists and auto makers praise as the answer to vehicular tailpipe emissions.

Let me -- no better yet let one of your own -- tell you about your folly. 

Dr. Francis C. McMichael and colleagues at Carnagie Mellon University contend that BPVs "may result in adverse impacts that are substantially larger than the air quality benefits that will result. Potential environmental problems are considerable." 

The truth is, lead releases from the processes of mining, smelting, and recycling of batteries will outweigh the benefits of reduced tailpipe emissions from gas-powered vehicles. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I hear another car coming.