“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.”
— Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar, from “Pudd’nhead Wilson” by Mark Twain, 1894
The principal difference between the 2016 major-party presidential nominees:
One is an insufferable braggart who lies too much.
The other is a notorious liar who brags too much.
But before letting our differences of opinion on which of those unseemly candidates most deserves your unearned vote (or your scorn), reflect back on the principal difference between a dog and a man, woman or even child.
A dog, unlike a human, will not insist that you must vote for or against anybody, nor chastise you for trying to make the best of two very bad presidential voting options.
Yes, we will pick our next president from those two utterly unfit frauds a week from today.
However, while that depressing civic duty dogs us, the uplifting experience of having a dog or dogs — or getting one or more dogs — graces us.
For instance, consider the accompanying, inspiring image of the wonder dog Coco, adopted from the Charleston Animal Society shelter in North Charleston five years and nine days ago. That’s her in full happy flight during a recent outing near the Pitt Street Bridge in Mount Pleasant.
She’s not running for office in that photo.
She’s running to me.
She’s not just Man’s Best Friend.
She’s my best friend.
Well, at least my best four-legged friend.
Dogs don’t just make you feel better.
They make you a better person by giving you a better outlook.
And there are many more wonderful dogs waiting for you to rescue them (they'll rescue you, too), at reasonable cost, from the Charleston Animal Society, Pet Helpers and other area shelters.
Plus, now that Halloween’s over, only 55 days remain until Christmas, when a dog can be the perfect gift — but only under the right circumstances.
All in or all out
You shouldn’t get a dog, cat, rabbit, bird, pig, lizard, snake or any other pet as a present for anybody, including yourself, unless the recipient accepts the dogged commitment required to care for them.
On a personal level, that’s a more serious, high-stakes, long-term decision than who gets your vote for president or any other elective office.
After all, presidents and school board members come and go.
Dogs are forever — at least in your heart.
Still, keep in mind that this column is not a campaign commercial.
It’s merely a reminder that living with a dog or dogs, if you can handle the responsibility, beats the heck out of living without one.
And Coco’s not the first fine Charleston Animal Society canine who’s become a loving member of my family.
So if the election’s got you down, look up and realize that while it will mercifully end soon, the devotion of a dog will last much longer.
As for the home-stretch political propaganda being aimed your way for your vote, ponder these two additional insights from Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar:
“One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives.”
“When angry, count four; when very angry, swear.”
And when this column, back today by popular demand, nears its merciful end, count on a pop test.
Follow the leaders
Name who said:
1) “The better I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs.”
2) “Great men have great dogs.”
3) “The best way to get over a dog’s death is to get another dog.”
1) Charles de Gaulle
2) Otto von Bismarck
3) Ronald Reagan
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is email@example.com.