In a moment of drunken revelling the other evening (praise be to Dionysus), I was asked a question which I did not think I would ever be asked. It was put to me in the style of one of those ‘would you rather?’ questions, which so instantly raise anybody’s hackles, being as they are so often related to either copulating with family or the removal of sexual organs. So you can imagine how floored I was when the question that came at me from my usually genial drinking companion was as follows:
‘Would you rather have to kill one person, or have to kill a dog every day for the rest of your life?’
Reeling somewhat from the directness and content of the question, I was inclined to reach for another cheese cracker to masticate as I proverbially chewed over the question. I must add that the cracker was present because the setting was a dinner party. I am a classy man, as you can tell by the company I keep. Naturally I would have to set some parameters.
‘Who is the person, and do I get to choose which kind of dog?’ came my retort. It would buy me some time, and besides, the latter half of the question was important. This dog business seemed to be a time-consuming job, and as murdering pugs is a hobby of mine, I thought this may soften the blow somewhat. You know what they say about employment: choose a job you want to get out of bed for in the morning.
‘Somebody you are pretty good friends with, and no you don’t get to choose the dog. Different one every day.’
I damn near dropped my lobster thermidor down me. The plot had thickened. Suddenly I was faced with either garrotting one of my closest confidants or every day waking up and knowing that at some point during the day, I would have to look into a labrador’s eyes and blow the mother away. This is where the issues of short and long term come in. With the friend, this is a one-time murder which I must strive to overcome emotionally, unless of course I enjoy it, which is always possible. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it huh? With the dogs however this is a constant and daily torture (apart from pug day) where each night, as I lay in bed, I must dispel the trusting eyes of dear Rover from my fevered imagination.
Sipping on the vintage, I attempted to moralise it. The RSPCA puts down animals in its shelters, and they’re the ones asking us for money dammit. Besides, isn’t a human life worth more than that of an animal, even if it is quite a few. Never blessed with the most agile of mental arithmetic skills, I reached for my phone and popped in the numbers. At my current state of physical wellbeing I give myself thirty years at best before I feel the icy hand ‘pon my shoulder, and at a dog a day this would amount to 10,950 strong of man’s best friends weighing upon my conscience. As I am often told, my mind is not a strong one, and I wondered if it could bear this burden of canine suffering.
Suddenly, the fog lifted. Somebody had opened the window to allow the smoke from the forgotten-about soufflés to air from the room. Metaphorically however also, everything had become clear. I had been sat here pontificating on this question when strictly there was no need. Of course I would rather kill my mate. Chances are, he has done something awful to me at some point (even if I probably don’t remember it), while this poor schnauzer-spaniel cross staring up at me as I level the blade to its throat has done nothing but be excited, happy and waggy its entire life. One less human is one less strain on an already overpopulated planet. I’d practically be birthing a polar bear.
Alongside this completely scientific example of cause and effect, I realised that part of it is the same reason why people are tricked into buying pets in the first place: the dogs are simply too cute to be brutally slaughtered. This goes for almost all animals, particularly young ones. My friend on the other hand, I do not find particularly attractive. In fact their face somewhat annoys me.
As you can tell, by this point I had basically decided on which friend it was to be. I was considering method. You can’t gun down a puppy, skewer a kitten, or lob a hamster into the sea. It’s not ethical. Just look at them.
This is the same reason people want to hold Koalas despite the fact that they probably smell terrible, and between 30 and 50 per cent of them have Chlamydia (good excuse for the spouse for all you Casanovas out there). Completely irrationally, we ascribe more emotional complexity to the befurred face of another species than we do our own. We are, deep down, more inclined to hurt one of our own than we are to murdering something we more commonly see being narrated by David Attenborough.
That is why I writing this to you from an airport, with a one-way ticket to Belize, where I plan to open an Irish pub. It is also because of this basic fact of human conditioning that I announce my leaving of the role of editor of this section, leaving it in the capable hands of Amy Elliott. It’s been a blast, and do come visit O’Flaherty’s in Belmopan, free Pablos on production of matric card.
So ends the defendant’s statement.