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Has this world gone to the dogs?
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Forsyth County News

Describing a situation as “the lunatics are running the asylum” is probably humorous to anyone who hasn’t done a stretch in an asylum, no matter who was in charge.

It brought to mind the entire Democratic National Convention broadcast.

It also brought to mind how, around these parts and in other locales, the wildlife is becoming a big part of our lives.

James Patterson, who, by the time you finish reading this will have written and published another best-selling thriller, penned a novel called “Zoo” in which the animals took charge.


Could that really happen? Probably not.

The lions and tigers would be accused of brutality, the elephants would sue for weight discrimination and the insects would unite to wage a full-blown war.

But let’s ponder these tidbits:
-Recently, in our subdivision near Lake Lanier, a sizable black bear was seen sauntering down the street. Neighbors and faithful readers of this column, Bo and Frank Joyce, had one help itself to their backyard birdfeeder and all its contents.

Those bears are a funny lot. Who would have thought they like birdseed? Here’s hoping he doesn’t have an affinity for whole corn. The chipmunks have called dibs on the 50-pound bag in the garage and are decimating it one kernel at a time.

The little buggers didn’t even wait until I opened it. There’s a hole in the sack that Spenser would show matches the exact height of a chipmunk on its hind legs.

-Anyone get a giggle about the maneater spotted in Lake Lanier? I did. For a few minutes. Then I reasoned that that cute little three-foot alligator might have some big brothers for company.

Folks around the lake weren’t worried. It was another excuse to hunt something.

So where did the alligator come from?

Word is it was someone’s former pet whose growth pattern got a little out of hand so someone wanted to play a little Steve Irwin and return it to a natural habitat.

Wait a minute! A pet alligator? Anyone ever seen a cute, cuddly gator? I though not.

The closest thing to anything of that ilk being at all humorous was the animated crocodile in “Peter Pan.” It was hilarious the way the croc’s eyes moved in perfect time to an alarm clock’s ticking.

Even the University of Florida mascot isn’t at all cute.

No, those of us two-legged denizens of the earth are pretty good when it comes to picking normal pets. How anyone can have a snake and call it a pet is flabbergasting. (A python? Really? Try petting one, kissing one or cuddling with one. It’s a safe bet the python will have something involving coils and constriction in mind.)

For my money, we humans are pretty good with choosing dogs.

Some doctors have started using dogs to comfort patients in offices and hospitals. Having a jet blast of puppy breath coming your way can apparently take an afflicted human’s mind off the illness.

So, we have therapy dogs, rescue dogs and the two that share our house. That would be Sam and Chester, two of the luckiest Retrievers ever born.

Oh, did I say Retrievers? That’s a severe misnomer, unless retrieving a rawhide treat from a bag counts. As they grow older, their days are spent waiting for affection. But there’s something about being on the receiving end of a Sam smile or a Chester handshake that makes me feel blessed for having such loyal companions.

We share a disdain for unwanted, chipmunk-eating cats that intrude on their real estate. Both would probably move nary a muscle if an unsavory character came to the door. But any cat that comes within 100 yards of their domain means, “Gentlemen, start your engines.”

Sometimes our affection for animals is tougher to figure out than a Rubik’s Cube.

I’ll never forget attending a nature talk in Yellowstone National Park. Mr. Ranger Sir was warning those in attendance not to mess with bears.

He showed a picture of one family and their car.

Dad had coaxed a behemoth, hungry bear into the sedan. In fact, the bear was somehow enticed to sit in the driver’s seat, with two paws on the wheel. Add sunglasses and a baseball cap and the laughs were on.

That is, until Yogi decided, “To hell with this, where’s that pic-a-nic basket?” while ripping the upholstery to shreds.

The family found shelter and the bear was able to fill his belly. And the family had a story to share once they got back to New York.

Mike Tasos’ column appears in the Forsyth County News every other week. He thinks anyone who owns a python as a pet should be forced to sit in a closet with Sam and Chester after they’ve all eaten chili. He can be reached at