Anthropomorphizing, the process, as Twain might say, of “underestimating the animal by assigning to him human traits,” has had a good year. The reasons range from the continuing dominance of the Obama dog, Bo, on Fox News (Bo: “Socialist or simple anarcho syndiclist?”), to the rise of kitty cat “jammers” for tabby sleepover night. Not kidding. On the sleepover thing.

In the scientific world, where the “a-word” has long been hated, there was one unmitigated triumph. The Jackson Lab, long the principle provider of mice labs all over the world—and a longtime anti-anthro force—finally signaled defeat in that battle. This year’s calendar, given out free, consists of a monthly, colored illustration of mouse- as--Hollywood celebrity: as a Clint Eastwood cowboy, as a Harrison Ford Luke Skywalker, as Harry Potter, as Superman. You get the picture.

The long-embattled Anthropomorph League has apparently taken note, and gone bold. I recently attended one of their conferences. Perhaps the most remarkable document came in the League’s annual report. In it are the following revised suggestions for doggy-sitter care:

Revised Care Instructions: Pet-sitting

The League has long believed that members ought to set their own standards for pet-sitters. No more. This year has seen reports of “no TV” nights, enforced dietary restriction to two meals a day, and, in one case, the posting of a pitbull photo on

Our response consists of the following series of suggestions to be left with whichever post-doc, teenage girl or spinster aunt you have designated. We use the name “Charlie” herein, but feel free to insert your pet’s own name:

1. The most important thing: do not let Charlie out front off the leash. Studies indicate a high risk that she will join a gang, pick-up a bunch of dirty language, start spraying graffiti and then you will have to go bail her out of jail. (see: Fid, O., Annals Canine Path, 2008)

2. The second most important thing: keep her active. Exercise stimulates heat shock proteins, tamps down insulinemic blood excursions, and promotes a sense of well-being. (Fluff, Y. Jo Canine Metab, 2009) Take her for at least one 20-30 minute walk a day. The leash is in the bag behind the pantry door with all that other shit. Also: poo bags to take with you. Her street name is Fang. Not kidding. Must prevent bullying.

3. Food: feed her one scoop of dry food, NOT moistened, twice a day, usually upon waking and then at 3 pm. Pick up the bowl after one hour. Do not let her snack. Snacking is bad. Snacking leads to obesity, yo-yo dieting, type 2 diabetes, and social shunning. Lap-bands for terriers are not covered by most plans.

4. Snacks: V. limited (see above) No people food. (How would you like the reverse?) (Don’t answer) I give her 4 treats a day, and usually I break each in half and make her sit before the reward. Research indicates that placing firm boundaries on canine behavior increases a sense of well-being, autonomy, and self-worth (Spot, A. Journ Can Psych, 2002). Prophylactic of future fascist impulses.

5. TV: as much as she wants. No porn. “Glee”… iffy.

6. Books: Franzen, Rowling, Levi-Strauss. No Heiddeger.

7. Art: Raphael, Rembrandt, William Wegman. Ix-nay on the ost-modern-pay

8. Music: Everything except that fucking Norteno shit. Also: No Montalvani

9. Behaviour: Charlie is very hyper for the first 5-10 minutes of every new encounter, then she settles down. She tends to “teeth” you but doesn’t bite. If annoyed simply close her mouth gently and say “no biting!” Watch little kids when first introduced as she will jump on them and possibly scratch. Liability disclaimers in desk. She comes when called, and will sit, get down, stay and go away by using exactly those words. Thus, do not say “shit!” “fuck!” “piss off!” etc

10. Sleep: Canine circadian rhythms can be easily disturbed. Put her outside for a few moments and let her pee, etc. She usually sleeps through the night unless that degenerate beagle she met at school starts texting her. Studies (Fluff, Y. Jo Canine and Soc, 12:20, p11) If she does start begging to go out in the middle of the night, I suggest you do it, unless you are fond of peepee/poopoo/barf-ula

11. If so clean it up

12. Picking up poo in backyard: Please at least once a day. Often late afternoon is best as the poo has dried up, and (am told) looks rather like those little chunks of Nepalese temple hashish that made the rounds in summer 1971. Do not smoke. It is bad to model adult behavior in front of impressionable pups (Milan, C. Dogs are People Too!, Lippincott and Drool, 2009)

13. Discipline: really, if you still don’t know what really turns you on, Charlie can’t help you.

14. Discipline2: We don’t hit. We do not threaten, cajole, or shame. All of these have been linked to increased risk of clinical depression, OCD, and joining the Republican Party. Note: Never say “you make mommy feel bad when you do that Charlie!” Studies (Oz, M. Jo Fkng Idiocy, 2002) show that dogs Just. Do. Not. Care!

15. Grooming: Brush Charlie out with one-hundred strokes of the short-hair brush, which is in the bag behind the pantry door with all that other shit. To prevent expulsion from school, check for lice and, if necessary, pick out all and any lice “nits” (eggs) on Charlie and her friend Casey next door. (New obedience school policy is “nit one hurl two.”)

16. When you go out: Leave Charlie in the backyard, unless it is over 90 degrees. You can leave a bowl of water outside. She will not drink it, as she drinks the pool water, but it will make you feel better. (Note: I have already had the “but sometimes people have pee-peed in the water” discussion and, again, she just doesn’t fucking care!) (See Oz, M. above)

17. If you are leaving her inside when you go out: Ha-ha! Kill. If you do, remember that dogs are denning animals and would rather be in a small place than a large one. (Bubby, M Annals of Canine Anthropo, 2002)Take her over to your house and leave her in your bathroom.

18. Medical: The next sheet has both the vet’s information and the local doggy emergency room information. Call us if it is a serious issue. We will reimburse. Kinda. Maybe. Did you bring your check book?

19. In the car: why are you doing that? Anyway, she is fine traveling. Put her in the back seat. The “don’t make me stop this car!” thing usually works.

20. Entertainment: besides throwing ball, walking and hashish thing, you can take her to the dog park. Beware of possible clymidia, STD, and giardia transmission. Troubling note: The two collies that are always there are total whores. Also: v. hot spaniels.