DEAR READERS: In America, the wolf has become a political symbol of a nation divided between the exploiters and protectors of animals and wild places. Wolves are again in the crosshairs of legislators bent on passing -- without judicial review -- Senate Bill 164, which removes federal protection under the Endangered Species Act. This legislation invites sport hunters and trappers to “harvest” wolves. It arrogantly assumes that we human hunters can replace the wolves’ role in maintaining not only healthy herds of deer and elk, but forests and biodiversity.
Abnormally high deer populations, fostered by state game agencies that profit from them and by landowners planting recreational deer feeding areas, have helped decimate wildlife habitats, while spreading chronic wasting and other deer diseases. Some of these diseases are communicable to humans, such as Lyme disease, which has become a national public health issue.
Delisting wolves will open their domain to mining, logging and other destructive human incursions. Failing protection, wolves will suffer and die under fire from new legions of hunters and trappers and the publicly subsidized beef industry that favors their eradication.
According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s latest Democracy Index, the U.S. government has been downgraded and is no longer classed as a “full democracy.” That demotion is deserved. Our democracy will never be complete so long as its native flora and fauna continue to be marginalized. The informed majority of America can stop this destructive juggernaut of vested interests by urging their senators to oppose Senate Bill 164. In the protection of the wolf lies the preservation and restoration of democratic process, eco-justice and a humane society.
DEAR DR. FOX: I have a Yorkie who has a distinctive sweet, flowery scent on the top of his head. We thought it was possibly transferred from some of the perfumes found in soaps and such that we humans used, but it's not; it's just his own distinctive smell. This is the first time I've ever encountered this in any of my dogs. I love it. Picking him up at the end of a long day and cuddling with him and sniffing his head lets me know I'm home in a very elemental way. -- L.F. Fairfax, Virginia
DEAR DR. FOX: My first dog companion was a husky-mix. Throughout my childhood, she treated me like I was her pup and was always looking out for me. When I would get upset, Mom would apparently tell me to go smell the dog's belly, and it would calm me down. I don't remember anything about this, other than how much I loved that dog.
I am an adult now, and I have my own standard poodle. I thought I'd smell her tummy just to see if it worked. You know, the smell of the dog's tummy is sweet, like flowers and baby powder, and yes, it is still very calming. -- M.H., St. Louis
DEAR L.F and M.H: I have posted earlier responses from dog owners about their perfumed dogs and hope that your letters will encourage others to check out their own dogs for scented body areas. You both give support to pheromone research and marketing of dog-calming body scents for dogs, which you both find calming for yourselves!
We are losing our sense of smell as well as other sensibilities as we text and tweet with our less and less opposable thumbs in cyberspace. Engaging in a good dog sniff may be one way for us to recover our senses. We can also use our sense of smell to help recognize when our dogs are not well and need a change of diet or just need a bath. For most healthy dogs, this is rarely needed, except for some breeds with oily skin and older dogs with various age-related conditions.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
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