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As usual, it was Sunday and I was desperately trying to figure out what to write for this week's column. As usual, some strange oddity occurs, either in my own life or another's, that just calls out for a literary response.

The winds were gusting at more than 30 miles per hour that morning. My wife casually mentions that my garden is blowing away. Upon glancing out the window, I witnessed the layers of newspaper and cardboard that were supposed to be mulching the garden flying about the yard and into the woods. Seems the 16-foot sections of wire panels I had placed on top of the paper were not sufficient to weigh them down. I ran outside and chased paper for a good hour or so. One playful section of the Democrat-Gazette led me around the house to the driveway, where I was quickly brought to a stop by the sight of a severed deer head sitting in the center of the drive. The doe's eyes were open, hatefully staring at me. No other deer parts were in sight. My first thought was that, as in the movie, The Godfather, someone was sending me a warning. I guess I was lucky the perpetrator couldn't get into my bedroom. Nothing spoils a Sunday morning more than waking up to a severed head in your bed, regardless of species.

I quickly realized that the dogs had found the head in the woods and brought it to the house for my amusement. It is deer season, after all. I threw the head into a gully in the woods and went back inside. After a shower and cup of coffee, I again set to the task of writing.

A quick peek at the day's news headlines brought me to an article about an English dairy farmer's death. Apparently, he and his Jack Russell terrier were in a fork lift truck working on a rock wall. The farmer put the truck into neutral, got out to investigate something in front of the truck, and the dog knocked the shuttle lever into gear, pinning the farmer against the wall. The tragic death was ruled an accident.

Just for a minute, I imagined this poor dog being dragged off to doggy jail at the animal shelter. "Hey, Newbie, what you in for? I'm doing time for tearing up a sofa." "Yeah," pipes up another mutt, "I dug up all the flowers in my human's yard, we're bad dogs. Try topping our crimes." Jack replies, "I crushed my master with a forklift." The other dogs back away from him. "OK, you win, Dude."

Is it just coincidence? I see many stories on how pets "accidentally" kill or injure humans. Dogs accidentally shoot their owners by jumping on a loaded gun. A pit bull mauls a woman when she tried to put a sweater on him. I guess some dogs are very serious as to their clothing choices. A hippo in South Africa killed his owner, who had told friends the hippo was "like a son to me." Obviously, the hippo felt no such familial connection.

Some "deaths by pet" are due to nothing more than good ole human stupidity. A reclusive man in Germany kept insects as pets. He was killed when his pet black widow spider escaped and bit him. The hundreds of other insects then escaped and feasted on his body for the next few weeks. A woman in Pennsylvania was killed by a pet bear while she cleaned his cage. A 500-pound pet deer gores his owner. Pythons escape and strangle their owners. The list goes on.

Maybe we shouldn't worry about apes becoming sentient and taking over the world as in the Planet of the Apes movies, as it appears other animals are just as willing to kill us off. Or, better yet, perhaps we should just use common sense when it comes to which animals we keep as pets. And for Pete's sake, or pets' sake, turn off the car if you leave it while Fido is riding shotgun. Take the keys with you, too, just in case.

Now that I think about it, maybe my dogs were sending me a message with the deer head.

-- Devin Houston is the president/CEO of Houston Enzymes. Send comments or questions to The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 11/28/2018

Print Headline: Those crazy animals!

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