‘Bill of responsibilities’

  • Published in Letters

To The Editor:

Mark Twain once quipped: “Outside a book, a dog is man’s best friend. Inside a dog, it’s too dark to read.”

I began reading the January 4 issue of The Valley Reporter with mild interest which turned into amazement at how much has changed in the dog world in the last three-fourths of a century since we had a dog on the farm as a watchdog and to bring the cows in from the pasture at milking time. I learned there are massages for dogs, diabetic alert dogs, a food shelf for dogs, medical care and surgery for dogs much like medical care for humans and probably better than in many parts of the world.

In Valerie Porter’s column “The Valley Floor” she says The Valley Reporter for the week of January 4 has “gone to the dogs.” Really? I sure hope that’s not the case. The idiom “gone to the dogs” has always meant to me, to use another idiom, “gone downhill” or gotten worse. If something has gone to the dogs it’s in a pretty bad way.

This got me interested in other dog idioms. On the internet, in a minute or two I found dozens of dog idioms – putting on the dog, dirty dog, tail wagging the dog, dog and pony show, dog-eat-dog world and many more.

One I didn’t find is the opposite of a dog-eat-dog world and is what we seem to have these days in the wide world. A friend of mine said to me in a conversation decades ago, maybe in response to my rather dire outlook on some issue, “No, it’s not a dog-eat-dog world, it’s a doggy dog world.”

Yes, maybe it’s a doggy dog world in the Mad River Valley, but we need to be watchful and responsible so The Valley doesn’t go to the dogs. I took a walk this last week, on a private trail generously open to hikers, up one of the beautiful streams that feed the Mad River and I was chagrined at what I saw. I took self-explanatory photos that show piles of dog poo on these private trails.

I do worry that some of these private trails, and maybe public ones, will be closed because dog owners are not responsible and do not pick up their dogs’ poo.

The Valley may be a bit like the deterioration on the national scene. We have a Bill or Rights in our Constitution but no Bill of Responsibilities.

I urge dog owners to be responsible.

Richard Czaplinski, Warren