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Do Pets Have Thumbs?

UPDATED: Nov 14, 2013

Did you know there is an actual “If Pets Had Thumbs Day“!?

Join me in jubilation. I know, I know. It’s pretty exciting!

As man of science and a doctor of animals, though, I can’t say I am totally in support of this day. I can only imagine some of the things that my patients might decide to do to me to exact their revenge for my clumsy attempts at healing over the years.

Hey doc – remember that one exam?

I am sure something beneficial could come of all this, though – something that helps the sad state of the many pets out there. And who needs help more than pets in shelters?  I can see some poor, lonely shelter dog using his newfound opposable appendage to unlatch his run and find his own darn home. No more waiting for the kids to stop by the pound and say Daddy, can we take him home? Nope, with his newfound flexible phalanges, he can open the door his own self and trot on into the living room of his forever family. Daddy – he let himself in, did the taxes, fixed the refrigerator and made us all silver dollar pancakes and fresh-squeezed orange juice – can we keep him?

Really, the possibilities are endless. Instead of merely sitting by the hearth and providing us with endless quantities of unconditional love, if pets had thumbs, they could contribute to the running of the household, in exactly the same way that I do (or, full disclosure, I don’t.)

That extra load of laundry? Fluffy’s on it!

That massage you have been meaning to schedule? Spot is kitty-on-the-spot with that one!

And the litter box will almost literally clean itself now.

I can also see them:

  • Doing the dishes
  • Running to the store (we will have to wait for If Pets Could Drive Day)
  • Bathing the kids
  • Bathing themselves
  • Bathing me (or at least scrubbing the tub afterwards)

There could be a dark side to this, however. It’s not all silver-dollar pancakes and orange juice, after all. If pets suddenly developed thumbs, I can see all manner of problems with homeless pets hitchhiking all over the USA. There would also be more toenails to trim.

That’s really all I can think of for the downside to this (feel free to leave some more in the comments section).

Actually, now that the excitement is wearing off, it occurs to me that the pets I work on (dogs and cats) do have thumbs. They have these useless little nubbins (often called dew claws) that are anatomically the same thing as the human thumb. They just can’t do anything with them, kinda like that Gazelle exercise machine I have in the basement. Or my hair.

So, that must mean that the main focus of IPHT day is NOT the already thumb-tastic dog or cat, but America’s other favorite pet, the Alpaca. Why they didn’t just name it If Alpacas Had Thumbs Day is beyond me. We all know that horses and goats (America’s #3 and 4 favorite pets – and a tie for #1 in Albania!) have thumbs, so designating the day for them is patently absurd. It is also possible that they got things mixed up in the naming process and it was supposed to be If Thumbs Had Pets Day, but that seems like either something from a fever dream or a Dali painting.

So, really, there’s no need to wait until March 3rd for pets to get their thumbs! They had them all along! And it would be silly to rename it If Pets Had Useful Thumbs Instead of Dew Claws Day since everyone is already blogging about IPHT day. Every day is If Pets Had Thumbs Day!

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