Dog Stars

So, it turns out dogs make pretty good film critics. Pooch and popcorn enthusiasts held a Dog Film Festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico recently. The films had to be about dogs, have dogs in them or make you think about dogs. Owners had to pay $5 to get in, while the dogs got in for free. Of course, no one told them that the proceeds were going to the city's spay and neuter programs. If they had, I suspect the dogs would have staged a major riot, which would have involved throwing their chocolate covered milkbones at the projectionist.

Why did they hold a film festival for dogs? For starters, it would be impossible to hold one for cats. This is because:

1) You cannot leash a cat to take it out anywhere. They either go limp and slither out of their collar, or attempt to shred your shins. Possibly both.

2) If people were able to transport their cats to the theatre, 70 percent of the felines would resolutely look everywhere but the screen, just to be contrary.

3) The other 30 percent would go slightly psycho and attempt to attack whatever was moving on the screen.

But the real reason why they held a film festival for dogs is, well, people get slightly weird about their pets sometimes. We talk to them, hold birthday parties for them, and dress them up in four-legged versions of human clothing. Even I confess to wrapping the odd bone-shaped parcel and putting it under the Christmas tree. Of course, I learned the hard way that it's never a good idea to put edible things under the tree until Christmas morning.

Of course, there's a good reason for being nice to animals. In addition to providing companionship, they have skills and abilities we haven't got, and can't yet imitate with technology. For example:

Dogs: In addition to protecting your home from squirrels, the neighborhood cats, and falling leaves, dogs are great additions to any lawn maintenance program. They provide free fertilizer and many dogs aerate your lawn by digging large holes in random places. They've also got great noses, capable of detecting a Twinkie at 200 yards. More seriously, we've recently discovered that dogs can detect cancerous cells just by scent.

Cats: Cats have this tremendous ability to bring all the hidden mice in your home out into the open, usually by eviscerating them and leaving them on your pillow. They are also an excellent addition to any home office, adding to your professional demeanor by saving all their best hairballs for important conference calls. The sound of a cat purring, meanwhile, may have healing properties — the tone and vibration frequency has been shown to improve bone and muscle thickness.

Fish: Fish promote personal hygiene, mainly because after cleaning out a tank, you smell like, well, fish. Watching fish swim around in their tank or bowl, meanwhile, is a good way to reduce stress. And if you're depressed, fish are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help combat depression. Mind you, they're only a good source once.

Rabbits: Rabbits provide free lawn care, trimming the grass down to golf putting-green level. They are also excellent at producing more rabbits, which means you could open your own organic lawn care business with only rabbit transport costs to worry about. Petting a rabbit, meanwhile, and assuming you don't get bitten or kicked, can reduce stress levels and promote general well-being. For you, if not the rabbit.

So the next time you rent a movie, consider inviting your furry or scaly family friends in to watch, too. You never know how they might pay you back.

To read more of Chandra's work, visit

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