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Please Stop Smoking, for Dog’s Sake

May 11, 2013
My cockerpoo dog, Sprite.

My cockapoo, Sprite.

This is my dog, Sprite, who is 14 years old, though he looks like a puppy still. I can hear all you dog lovers saying, “Ohhhh, he’s so cute!” because that’s what so many of you have said about Sprite when I’m out walking him and you meet him. And I appreciate so much that you respond to him in this way!

(A side-note to the point of this post:  I’m not the biggest fan of dogs. We added Sprite to the family when my children were young. Now they’re off living their lives, and by default, Sprite’s with me. But I do love Sprite. All the other dogs in the world I tolerate, kind of in the way that Lucy in the Charlie Brown comic strip tolerates Snoopy.)

I take pretty good care of Sprite, I feed and water him, I walk him, I pet him…mostly when he’s just been groomed and is nice and clean. I put Frontline on him, I give him his monthly heart worm pill, I keep his shots up to date. I try to take him out four times a day for what has become a stroll as he gets older. In fact, lately, walking Sprite is like walking a donkey. There’s a lot of tugging and coaxing and general frustration in making him remember why we’re out – to walk. I’m digressing again.

Sprite LOVES to eat cigarette butts. I’m not digressing here – this is the point of the post. He eats butts the way a child eats candy. He can’t get enough.

For nine of the past twelve months, I lived in the city of Lowell, Mass., which has a lot of great things about it. But, apparently, lots of people smoke in Lowell. And, also apparently, many of them leave plenty of their cigarette butts on the sidewalks and streets of Lowell. Sprite thought he’d died and gone to dog heaven when we moved there. The streets were littered with his favorite treat.

Immediately, I had to resort to walking Sprite with a muzzle on him (see photo below) to keep him from eating too many cigarette butts. I say “too many” because he would manage to get a few a week despite the muzzle. Without the muzzle he’d snatch up to five butts in one 15-minute walk. It was a serious problem as he became kind of shaky about an hour after we’d come in and he’d whine obsessively at the door to go out, obviously because he wanted (read “needed”) more nicotine.

Sprite with muzzle

Sprite with muzzle

People would stop us as we’d walk and they’d say such things as, “Aw, he doesn’t look like he’d bite anybody! Look as his tail wagging!”

I’d reply, “The muzzle is to keep him from eating cigarette butts.”

The reaction to that statement would range from utter disbelief to expressions of such sorrow that I’d see tears in the person’s eyes. Really. And I could relate.

One man who said he trained police dogs told me that in all his time working with dogs, he’d never heard of such a thing.

Here’s proof of Sprite’s attraction to cigarette butts:

Sprite spots two butts.

Sprite moving in on a butt.

Many people joked that I should get him “the patch”, which seemed funny at first, but then didn’t — that people’s unhealthy habits were so impacting my 15 pound dog’s health.

Anyway, when we moved from Lowell to a more rural setting two months ago, my greatest relief was that I thought I could now walk Sprite in peace from the temptation of his penchant for cigarette butts. But as it turns out, the country folk are smoking, too, and tossing their butts on the streets, also — not in the same quantities, but enough so that I walk Sprite on the lawn around the house as much as possible so that I don’t have to put the muzzle on him again.

I find all of this to be so discouraging. So this post is a plea of sorts. I’m asking all you smokers to please stop smoking, if not for your sake, for Sprite’s sake. As a former smoker myself (for ten years in my youth), I know how hard it is to quit. But if I can, you can. Believe me. And in the meantime, please keep your butts on your person till you can dispose of them properly.

Sprite and I thank you!    (This is a thank you dog kiss from Sprite!)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. awriterweavesatale permalink
    July 28, 2013 8:00 pm

    Oh he looks just like my Toby in coloring, though Toby is a poodle (and only one, and on coming home my petter sitter announced he has fleas. Welcome home)


    • July 31, 2013 12:10 pm

      Sprite is half poodle, half cocker spaniel. He’s a really good and upbeat dog. But at 14, his age is starting to show.
      PS If you do a bit of math on the life of dogs, small dogs especially, and the age at which children typically depart home,
      I think you can count on many years with Toby all to yourself! Lucky you! 😉
      Of course this has its upside and its downside –
      For instance, half way through this comment I had to jump up to stop him from raiding the recyclables.
      He no longer hears my “Leave it!” command from across the room. And my children are no longer here for me to give them
      the command, “Sprite!” — the all-alert that he was into something!
      As for the upside…ah…well, let’s think…I suppose I don’t “technically” talk to myself!


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