Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Over the years I've owned 9 cats, 2 dogs, a horse, and a skunk. There were about a dozen other pets which were co-owned with family. Every one of them had qualities I would admire in a human being, and, of course, many I wouldn't. Every one of them was instructive. Let us take the skunk, for instance.

Stinky (what else?) appeared one day at the back porch as a tiny little thing that apparently had lost his mother. It was necessary to de-scent him in order to share a home with him. He grew up healthy and strong, but though he consented to human contact he never really liked it. Instead, he formed a friendship with the Great Dane. He didn't much like the indoors at all. It seemed best to let him have his way as soon as he was big enough, so he moved out of the house into the back yard where he was much happier. He dug out a nest for himself under a leaf pile next to the dog house and ate out of the same dish as the dog. He lived there for years. People and other animals, not knowing his clip was empty, always gave him a wide berth. The bluff was enough. All the same, he never wandered far from the Great Dane just in case.

Stinky gave me some perspective on events in Iraq. Why, people ask, did Saddam Hussein allow the world to believe he had weapons of mass destruction for so many years? The simple answer: a credible bluff has deterrent value all by itself. It worked for Stinky. However, Stinky had some sense of limits to bluffing, so he hung out with the big dog just in case. Had Saddam sidled up to the big dog, he'd still be in power.

1 comment: