What if Cats and Dogs Had Opposable Thumbs Day
by Lynn Stacy-Smith
Yes, Virginia, there really is a “What if Cats and Dogs Had Opposable Thumbs Day.” I cannot find the source of this day, in fact sometimes I wonder if someone “invented” these bizarre days just to see if people would celebrate them!
Here at Love, Laugh, Woof, the answer is: heck yes we will!
Literally just five minutes ago my husband made a reference to if the dogs had thumbs. It went like this:
Teenager 2: “Guys, go lay down, I don’t have any more cheese to give you!”
Husband: “Yes, but you have thumbs, they know you can go and get more cheese from the fridge!”
In the world of the Labrador Retriever, it was a long-standing tradition for Labs to have their dew claws removed at a very young age to avoid them snagging on brush in the field and tearing off in a painful way. None of my parents’ Labs ever had dew claws for this reason. This is the same with many other sporting breeds and dogs who actively run through brush and weeds.
Recently, though, health experts and breeders are changing their view on removing dew claws, and many Labrador breeders and other breeders are keeping these claws on their dogs. This is because the dew claw is actually functional, according to M. Christine Zink DVM, PhD, DACVSMR who shares some interesting and educational information at http://www.caninesports.com/uploads/1/5/3/1/15319800/dewclawexplanation.pdf.
In the two years between Jackson and Tinkerbell being born, our breeder stopped removing them, so Tinkerbell has hers, while Jackson does not. When we picked her up we noticed the dewclaws and our breeder explained the health benefits of leaving them on and we felt blessed to have someone so knowledgable about this issue and so concerned about the health of her puppies. “They also use them to hold things,” she told us, “You’ll notice when she’s holding a bone or a toy.”
Sure enough, puppy Tinkerbell used her dewclaws to hold things right away. She used them to hold her antler and chew toys all the time, like a little thumb. “Oh no, we have the first dog with thumbs, we’ve lost our advantage!!” we joked to each other.
Lucky for us, and despite our jokes that our dog has thumbs, dewclaws are not actually thumbs, even if she does have an extra ability to use them to hold onto things that she is chewing and use her paws to pull our hands to her favorite scratchy spot on her belly, something she does all the time. As a result, we still have a lot of silly conversations about all the things the dogs would do if they did have thumbs, so today is the perfect day to share them with you!
1. Snacks for everyone! Thumbs would make it so easy to get to snacks. They could open the zipper top packages of Fruitables, the boxes of Wet Noses treats, the jar of peanut butter.
2. Endless food! Like most Labs, Jax and Tink would eat nonstop if we let them, which is why their bags of food are in a locking container. Recently scientists determined that Labradors actually have a mutant gene that makes them hungry all the time and thumbs would mean that we were buying a lot more food each month and we would have 200 pound Labradors!
3. Inside, outside, inside, outside, inside, outside…Thumbs would make it possible to open the door, bringing their dreams of going inside and outside repeatedly all day to fruition.
4. Get those darn squeakers out of toys! The mortal enemy of any dog is the squeaker in their plush toys! No more working with their teeth to get those squeakers out, if dogs had thumbs they could easily tear the toy open or use scissors to get the job done quickly and efficiently.
5. Open the fridge! Fridge door, open! Cheese drawer, easy peasy! Meat drawer, oh yeah!
6. Open the fence gates: My late Dutch did this once with his nose, but thumbs would make it easy to come and go as they pleased, whether it was to go on a stroll around the neighborhood or to catch that pesky rabbit who keeps slipping underneath the fence.
7. Answer the front door: No more barking for us to answer the door or wondering who is outside the house, if dogs had thumbs they could easily answer the door themselves.
8. Play fetch with their paws: No more slimy tennis balls or frisbees, dogs with thumbs could play fetch with their paws and even throw the ball back to us. A whole new world of games would open up!
9. Explore the world with their hands: If you’ve had a young puppy, you know that they put everything, and I mean EVERYTHING in their mouths to figure out what it is. It doesn’t matter if it’s good for them or bad for them, it all goes in their mouth because it’s the only way to pick it up. Thumbs would mean a dog could sit and contemplate an item and be able to hold and see it at the same time.
10. They could use technology: We all know dogs with their own social media accounts, having thumbs means that they could really truly update their status, take selfies with their friends, finally find out which Disney princess or personality color they are, and turn on Animal Planet and FidoTV while their humans are out of the house. Just don’t let them add your credit card or you’ll wonder how that PetFlow order arrived at your house without your knowledge!
11. They would thumb wrestle: If you have multiple dogs, you know those days when they play the lazy games of bitey face, laying on the ground and sparring with just their jaws for fun? Thumbs would introduce thumb wrestling to their lazy day fun!
Of course even if dogs had opposable thumbs, they will wouldn’t speak English, know how to navigate busy streets, know which foods were bad for them, or any of the other important things that we humans know to keep our dogs safe in a human world. As much fun it is to joke about the things they could do with thumbs, it’s for their own good that they don’t have actual thumbs, like mother nature’s way of protecting them. Today, though, it’s all in good fun, and I hope that Jackson and Tinkerbell’s dreams are full of finally opening that jar of peanut butter all on their own and maybe playing three way game of catch with me!