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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

It Puts the Aquafresh On Its Skin…

I have a dog. Because I have a dog, I know a lot about what happens to inedible surface parts of pigs and cows after they die. A lot. Like, way more than anyone not named ‘Heifery Dahmer‘ or ‘Hamibal Lechter’ ever should.

If you also have a dog, then you probably understand why this is. And you’re in the same sick twisted boat. If you don’t have a dog, then no amount of verbal jockeying will ever adequately convey what it’s like to browse your local pet food store for dog treats. Imagine Charlotte’s Web meets Saw or the Chik-Fil-A cows run through the wood chipper in Fargo, and you get a glimmer. Except it’s much, much worse. For the animals, at least.

“Back in the day, who knows? Maybe prehistoric wild boars fought for their lives against packs of vicious sabertooth poodles.”

First, there’s the astonishing variety of dismembered porker parts and paraphernalia presented for purchase. Should you be so inclined, you can feed your dog toughened strips of pig skin. This is not so shocking, of course — we have footballs and pork rinds and ‘Chicken’ McNuggets made from the very same material.

But the porcine carnage doesn’t stop there. You can also buy lopped-off pig ears — very tasty for the terrier crowd, apparently. Pig hooves, as well, and even pig snouts. I shit you not, cat fanciers and ‘goldficcionados’ — us dog owners pay people to kill a pig, cut its holy effing dead face off, and then we feed it to our pet. Whiskers and all.

Yeah. So you come back to me and argue cats are better than dogs when your tabby’s lunching on pork boogers. Until then, you keep it in the litter box, weirdo.

Never mind that pigs and dogs — so far as I know — are not natural enemies in the wild. Or in domestication. Maybe in the Thunderdome, but otherwise, not so much. Pigs don’t have the fangs to bother dogs too much, and dogs would have a pretty hard time taking down a two-hundred pound lump of bacon. My dog would, anyway. She’d be happy to lick a hoof for a while, and then curl up and pee in the slop trough. My mutt’s more what you’d call a ‘head gamer’ than a killer.

Back in the day, who knows? Maybe prehistoric wild boars fought for their lives against packs of vicious sabertooth poodles. But in modern times, the only pig most dogs get comes in a shrink-wrapped package, and from some cured carcass that was likely factory killed, maimed, dismembered and lightly salted to taste. And there’s a hell of a lot of it.

But not as much as cow.

They use a lot of unspeakable beef parts, too. Ears, occasionally. Bits of tail. ‘Knuckles’, which are in actually some joint that I don’t want to know where it comes from, what it bends, or who stuck their hands in there to rip it off the body. And, of course, bully sticks, aka cow weiner.

(That’s Longhorn dong. Holstein holster holders. Shetland schlong. The Guernsey girth. Angus wangus. Jersey junk.

Don’t make me keep going. I’ll do it.)

But the majority of cow in your average puppy treatery will be in the form of rawhide — treated strips of dead moo skin, ready for snarfing up and scarfing down by hounds from coast to coast. You might think that delicious leathery near-steak treats would be just the thing for dogs, unadulterated in their natural beefy state.

You would be mostly incorrect.

Because while you can certainly find the odd bag of simple peeled-off bull hide, most of the product is rejiggered in some way to add additional flavor. My pooch’s favorite, for instance, is something called ‘Free Range Peanut Butter Flavor’.

I don’t know how they get the peanuts to ‘range’, exactly. Maybe a strong breeze or fan of some kind. Or probably the name is a play on words on another flavor by the same brand: ‘Free Range Chicken Flavor’.

I’m happy the chickens that were squeezed for their flavor juices were allowed to roam free before their nasty fate became my dog’s stinky treat. But the bag doesn’t say shit about the poor cow who just got her back hacked with an industrial cheese grater to make it happen. Even the peanuts have a better life than that.

These skin foods come in all sorts of sizes, shapes, colors and flavors. I knew this. But what I didn’t know — until the store recently ran out of ‘free range peanuts’ to make my mutt’s favorite, that is — is that there’s a purportedly useful kind of rawhide treat, as well. There, on the shelf next to the usual nightmares, was a row of bags proudly proclaiming:

BREATH FRESHENING RAWHIDE GOODIES

Cleans their teeth and improves breath while they chew — guaranteed!

I figured what the hell. They’re out of her favorite. I’ve seen her eat poop. And these are still made from delicious murdered beef creatures. If I can bring a little Listerine action into that dog’s maw, I’ll have done the world a solid. So I bought a bag.

The good news — the dog loves them. So far as I can tell, she knows no difference from these Crest-covered cowhickeys and her usual Skippy-ized beef parts. The bad news?

They STINK.

Holy god, I thought the plain ones reeked. The peanut butter ones, at least smell like peanuts a little. The chickeny ones, also stenchy. But the ‘breath fresheners’? A hundred times worse. Like they rubbed the cow against a rotting skunk before they skinned it, and then soaked it in turpentine. I can barely open the bag without fainting.

And did I mention? The dog loves them.

In a sense, I suppose they’re working. Anything I might have smelled on the mutt’s breath before these monstrosities is but a distant memory — replaced by the insistent, gloomy funk of whatever they treated these pukeskins with. They ‘freshen’ breath in much the same way 17th century perfume ‘cleaned’ filthy courtiers — by masking the repulsive odor with something infinitely more overpowering.

The worst part is, this bag is huge. It’s the only size they had. We’ve been shoving these things down the dog’s throat for three weeks, and there’s still half the pile left. She’s going to come out of this with the cleanest canine canines on the planet, or we’ll be gassed out onto the street before we’re done. I never thought I’d long for peanut-slathered cow skins. But I do. For the love of the Toothopolis and the Cavity Creeps, I do.

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