The Carbon Paw-Print according to Riley 

Interpreted by Troy Bishopp

Hey Folks, Riley the Rat Terrier here . 

I’m barkin’ mad after reading Time to Eat the Dog: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living, by so-called sustainable living experts, Robert and Brenda Vale from New Zealand.  Who do they think they are comparing my “carbon paw-print” (pet-generated carbon footprints) to a Volkswagon’s exhaust system?

They said my canine brethren are devastating wildlife, spreading disease and polluting. And here I thought rolling in a dead mouse or raiding the litter box once in a while was a good thing!  My mom never prepared me for this as I left the litter to join the ecologically friendly Bishopp Family Farm.

I’m hard pressed to figure out the human species and their lack of respect. I remember grandpa telling the story about how our ancestors helped President Teddy Roosevelt clean out those pesky, disease carrying rats from the Whitehouse.  We also provided security duty, greeted dignitaries and performed babysitting duties.  

Show me how a box of D-Con rat poison can accomplish this! What is the carbon footprint of exterminators and their poisons?  Maybe you should eat them.

It makes me sad that at one time our breed was nearly wiped out because we were not as popular as drugs and guns to control vermin. Now you’re once again blaming a beast for all the ill of the world you created.  At the barn, my bovine buddies are talking about the strategies in controlling their environmentally, unfriendly “passing wind” and how they can’t even poop without getting into trouble with you humans.

The animal world is very confused about how they fit in anymore. Are we all becoming just edible pets? I’m hopeful that someone will be buying a book on the good things animals do.  Perhaps you should read a book by my favorite author, Temple Grandin or volunteer at the local dog shelters.

I am quite comfortable in saying that a chicken doesn’t cuddle in bed very well nor do they want to! When I chase a ball or playfully bite, this seems to make my family happy which makes me happy.  I don’t need a litter box cause we have lots of grass around the farm to fertilize.

I love grass-finished beef. Eating pastured eggs keeps my coat nice and shiny.  I love bananas, grapes, pasta, popcorn and chewing on bones.  I’m a pretty easy keeper since I’m only 9 pounds.  I hardly touch your mysterious, man-made, corn syrup drizzled dog food, especially after hearing how many of my buds died from eating imported food.  What’s the carbon footprint in that system?

My likeable qualities extend off the porch. I help Nona babysit our granddaughter, Hadley. I provide hours of enjoyment for the cows who chase me.  I hunt ferociously for small game leaving the kill for my hawk and crow friends to munch on.  I bark to alert my family of visitors. My passion is to give back, not take, like my mom told me.

I love car rides and cruising along a stream in a kayak. I like wearing cardigan sweaters and traveling out in the community, especially to nursing homes and sporting events.  Hey, it builds my ego to hear I’m cute and sweet while lighting up someone’s face.  I usually reciprocate with a lick or turn over for a scratch on the belly.  I have also helped consol someone crying by just being there and nuzzling.  Life is good when I’m sharing this love with you all.  I think these attributes are often neglected in the argument over climate change.

At the end of the book it says to trade me in for a chicken. I have to take exception with that statement.  The chicks and I are part of a family.  Why would you split up a great team?  They clean up around the farm eating bugs and grass and I keep them and their eggs safe from predators.  We realize we are important in different ways that contribute to the whole farm.  I consider us the lucky ones as we can enjoy our lives free from big cities, noise, cages and live in a natural environment with all our friends at this farm.

As I read about the concern over keeping pets as more of a luxury than a necessity, I wonder how that red, full size, 4-wheel drive pick-up my farmer drives plays into the mix. In my mind you should trade that beast of fossil fuel and tires in for a new litter of pups, more cows, chickens, goats, and work for a more carbon neutral future that runs on sunshine, good soil and grass.  The exercise alone from this kind of system will help you humans thrive better instead of cutting down trees to make books and paper money.  Now that’s being more carbon neutral.  Thanks for listening, Riley

Published in Country Folks East