What’s in a name?
When you stop to think about it, the lengths dogs will go to for a Milkbone are amazing. Sit, stay, lie down, paw, speak, dance, stand, laugh at all my jokes…the list goes on. And all for a 4.5 cm long x 1 cm deep x 2.8 cm at the widest part, hard, tan-colored, bone-shaped, card-board smelling piece of food. (I recently examined a Milkbone, and the Shroud of Turin has nothing on it after my investigation)
The package information gives no clue to the power a single biscuit holds. Sure, there are Snausages and Pupperoni, I get this, they’re fragrant and greasy, and yet, the Milkbone remains the most recognized and widely used treat. “Treat,” even that euphemism underlies the Milkbone’s role in training and reward.
If only people could be moved by so little. If only, we could be “trained” with such a small incentive. I can see it now; open the door for someone, grab a Milkbone, how about calmly waiting in line, what, another Milkbone, and sitting in rush-hour traffic, here’s a Milkbone. The possibilities loom infinite. What couldn’t be settled over a Milkbone? (Congress would definitely be able to balance a budget…)
What I love about dogs is that eventually, after all the training and Milkbones, (and blood, sweat, and tears…ours, of course) they learn! They will perform without the obligatory treat every time. Eventually, making us happy, and thus, the “good dog” is the reward. (I still recommend a Milkbone from time to time to help keep it real) Perhaps, we should take a page from our dogs. Why can’t we do things just because it makes others happy? Are we too focused on ourselves? Do all of our actions have to benefit us?
As I was thinking these grandiose thoughts of kindness and brotherhood, a car not only swerved in front of me and almost hit me, but the driver also proceeded to flash me a vulgar gesture when I honked my horn as a warning. As I clenched the steering wheel and muttered a few well-chosen phrases, I could only think … Milkbone anyone?
Dr. Casey Kurtz is a staff veterinarian at French Creek Veterinary Hospital in Pottstown, PA