I’ve been bitten pretty hard by some mistakes, but by the same token, I’ve learned to recognize a dog when I see one.
I’m also getting better at smelling a rat when it’s staring me in the face.
Speaking of dogs and rats makes one think of prairie dogs. The difference between a prairie dog and a rat surely can’t be any greater than a fuzzy perspective (or a rebellious gene gone mutant).
A neighbor who holds the same opinion of prairie dogs that I do said it best. He says the reason people like prairie dogs is because someone made a mistake when they attached “dog” to their name, dogs being sacrosanct in America. He claims if they had been given their proper description and named prairie rats, no sane person would like them. You gotta like a guy who recognizes a situation for what it really is and is willing to call a spade a spade – call a dog a dog, and a rat a rat.
So, totally expected, I was taken to task by a couple of irate prairie rat supporters who politely excoriated me in print. One, a local gal, reminded me that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and certainly nobody can fault that. Both responders were adamant about the valuable role prairie dogs (their words, not mine) play in the ecosystem, by providing food for so many different predators.
True to a point, but my guess is, not to the extent they want to believe, because otherwise the damn rats couldn’t eventually overpopulate and destroy themselves with disease (the bubonic plague).
If I interpret the intent of the two responders, they believe that everything in the natural world has an ecological niche. Could be, but if so, why are we at war with noxious plants like dandelions, leafy spurge, tamarisk, spotted knapweed, oxeye daisies and musk thistle, and destructive animals like zebra mussels, pigeons and so forth? You know, those types that totally ruin one type of a diversified ecosystem by creating a monopoly of their own. Gosh, if you’re a genuine environmentalist, wouldn’t you vehemently protest these ecosystem monopolizers I just named as well?
I’m going a step further, and calling them prairie rats, classified as vermin, but not without a couple of accompanying dictionary definitions of that term.
From Dictionary.com: Vermin.- noun, plural.
1. Noxious, objectionable, or disgusting animals collectively, esp. those of small size that appear commonly and are difficult to control, as flies, lice, bedbugs, cockroaches, mice, and rats.
2. Animals that prey upon game, as coyotes or weasels.
My comments: Aren’t prairie rats vermin? Sounds like they qualify. But animals that prey on vermin (prairie rats are fair game for predators) are also called vermin – an obvious misnomer. Heroes is more like it?
From the American Heritage Dictionary: Ver·min (vûr'm