YOU’D NEVER BELIEVE WHAT’S IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT

You think we have problems? 

Ok, we do. There was a guy called Murphy – why are they always Irish? – who once predicted “if anything can go wrong, it will.” And that’s happening right now in Malaysia with a vengeance. There are over 3,000 Covid-19 cases currently in the country, and, at the time of writing, 50 have died.

And yes, we have some ministers who think that it’s OK to pander to some man’s sexist and misogynistic ideas of how women should behave and then attempt to pass it off as a national ideal. Alas, we also do have many holier-than-thou people continuing to urge congregational prayer when all the warnings scream against gatherings in large numbers.  

Whatever happened to “God helps those who help themselves”? 

On the other hand, we don’t have a leader who first downplays the pandemic and, on grudgingly accepting its reality, insists on having his say over the arguments of his scientists. It easily might have been worse: we might have had a stable genius at our helm. 

At a time of great national distress, at a time when the United States has the greatest number of infections in the world, at a time when Washington’s Governor is contemplating lockdown, there is this….

…A resident of Washington in the US was arrested following a high-speed chase that left officers dumbfounded after they found the man’s pit bull behind the wheel.

The incident unfolded early in the week after police received calls about a driver hitting two vehicles in an area south of Seattle and then speeding away, state trooper Heather Axtman told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

She said the emergency services subsequently got multiple calls about a car traveling erratically at more than 100 miles per hour (160 kilometres per hour). It transpired later that only people already exceeding the speed limit were the ones calling because they deemed the driver reckless after he’d passed them. 

Axtman said that as officers gave chase, they got close to the vehicle — a 1996 Buick — and were shocked to see a pit bull in the driver’s seat and a man steering and pushing the gas pedal from the passenger side.

The pursuit ended after police deployed spike strips and arrested 51-year-old Alberto Tito Alejandro, who was booked on multiple felonies including driving under the influence of drugs. Mr Alberto said when Raphael, the canine suspect, asked for driving lessons, he did not want to stand in its way. 

The police also noted grimly that Mr Alberto was a cab driver in real life which only went to show that practice did not make perfect. He’d also made the error that all gullible dog lovers do: the fact that your dog thinks you are smart is not conclusive evidence that you are. 

Actually, he seemed to be about as smart as the President.  

“When we took him into custody… he admitted to our troopers that he was trying to teach his dog to drive,” Axtman said. “I’ve been a trooper for almost 10 years, and I’ve had a lot of excuses when I’ve arrested people or pulled people over, but I’ve never had an excuse that the dog was driving.” 

Axtman said she had only one objection against the driver, a female pit bull. Apparently, she’d been on the phone when she was pulled over. 

Maybe it was true what they say: life was a bitch and then you had puppies. 

A STORY YOU CAN READ TO YOUR DOG

It’s often been called man’s best friend and with good reason.

A dog that’s been waiting in the middle of a road for more than 80 days for its owner to return has sparked an outpouring of emotion on Chinese social media, after a video emerged of the pet standing guard near where its owner was reportedly killed.

The state-owned China News Agency reported the dog in the city of Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, had been sitting by the guard rail in the middle of the road for almost three months.

This is not an uncommon phenomenon. Indeed, the dog in China has nothing on Japan’s famous Hachiko, the Akita dog that waited for its dead owner for more than nine years outside a train station in Tokyo in the 1920s.

Do you see that happening with a cat?

Fat chance. You see, in ancient times cats used to be worshipped as gods and they have never gotten over that. So, while dogs look up at you, cats look down to you and generally sneer at everyone until it’s mealtime. 

 They also think everyone’s Egyptian: those were the idiots who started the cat-worshipping cult.  

I admit it, I’m not really a cat person. This is a generally well-known fact. In fact, when I was living in Petaling Jaya in the 1990s, one of the neighbourhood cats got killed. It was actually curiosity that killed the cat but, for a while there, I was a suspect. 

Dogs not only agree enthusiastically with everything you say but greet you every day as if you were a member of the Beatles.

And dogs have functions. There are police dogs, sniffer dogs and bird dogs. 

Which reminds me, have you heard the one about the talking sheepdog? After he’d collected all the sheep, he tells the farmer, “OK, that’s it, that’s the 40 for you”. 

Farmer protests, “I’ve only got 37 sheep.”

Dog: “I know, I rounded them up.” 

And when’s the last time you saw a seeing-eye cat? 

In fact, the beasts can be notoriously picky. I once was  neighbour to a couple – Sugu and his wife Annabel – who seriously adored their cat Ben Hur. OK, it used to be Ben until it had kittens. 

That was a joke and the curmudgeonly cat was really called Bennie. They so doted on the fastidious feline that they even acquiesced to its demand that it be only fed with either lamb or lemon sole. 

Once Sugu thought he would fool the finicky feline and offered the rascal ikan kurau or threadfin. He got scratched for his audacity.

Whenever I visited them, I would seat myself on one of the chairs on their balcony that Sugu told me later was generally occupied by Bennie. 

That explains it. I used to wonder why the cat always used to slink past and regard me with the barely restrained menace of an axe murderer. 

Still, I am pleased to report that its extravagant diet seemed to suit Bennie who lived on to become the Methuselah of cats. It lived until the ripe old age of 24 – over a 100 in our time – and was accorded all the pomp and pageantry of a state funeral. 

Let’s face it. If we leave out pit bulls and Rotweilers, the average dog is a better person than the average person.

 I first wrote this for the Star sometime in November, 2018