August 19, 2014

Watch out for mangled life-buoys

AS USUAL, the new West Marine catalog is full of little surprises. The nation’s largest chandler, the country’s biggest marine superstore, is now selling pet toys and accessories. Toys for dogs, mostly. You might well ask: “Do dogs on boats need toys?”
The answer is “Probably.” After all, they can’t move around much; there’s not enough space to romp as dogs were built to do. They just have to lie there on the settee berth, spreading hair and slobber on everything and getting bored.

What dogs really want is to be ashore, smelling the local news on tree trunks and adding their own headlines to fire hydrants. Dogs don’t want to be cabin’d, cribbed, and confined on boats.

And they have to go ashore in any case because they’ve never managed to master the principle of the litter box, something that cats learn with ease in early kittenhood. Dogs need to scratch in real dirt, and the fouler the better, so they can get it stuck between their claws and bring the smells back on board to savor all night long.

By way of illustration, the catalog shows what appears to be a bulldog pup savaging a round life-buoy, eyes tightly shut in bliss. This particular life-ring probably deserves a good savaging, since it’s too small to preserve the life of anything heavier than a dieting chihuahua. But the principle of teaching dogs that it is blissful to chew up the ship’s life-jackets  is surely dangerous. How long before there isn’t a decent life-jacket to show the Coasties when they next stop you?

Another thing that strikes me is that there’s no mention of toys for cats. Or for parrots. I guess that’s because cats never get bored. (Too busy planning how to get the dog into trouble.) And nautical parrots just spend their spare time swearing and complaining  about the food. So, for the time being, it’s dog toys that are being promoted. This indicates to me that more dogs go boating than do cats or parrots. It also indicates to me that West Marine, which researches these things thoroughly, is expecting to make some money in the near future by selling new life-preservers to replace those that get chewed up.

Today’s Thought
No one can possibly achieve any real and lasting success or “get rich” in business by being a conformist.
— Paul Getty, International Herald Tribune, 10 Jan 61

“I hear that hussy in the tiny thong got badly sunburned yesterday.”
“Good, I’m glad. She got what she was basking for.”

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)

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