Monday, August 06, 2012

The immune-boosting power of dogs

As the world's leading ayatollah, I typically approach scientific research with a healthy dose of skepticism. But on the handful of occasions when that science reinforces my worldview, I am more than willing to embrace it. And so it is with a study in the August issue of Pediatrics that I found most interesting and enlightening. 

The Ayatollahbaby gets a healthy dose of the dog bed.
Researchers discovered that babies with dogs in the home are, on average, healthier than those without a furry companion. Babies with canine siblings had fewer respiratory and ear infections, and they were less likely to need antibiotics. One-year-olds with a dog living in the house were rated "healthy" 81 percent of the time, while dogless children and those whose dogs stayed outside were given a healthy rating only 64 percent of the time. 

It is believed that having frequent contact with a dog exposes a child to "subclinical" doses of germs -- or germs that are not invasive or virulent. This helps children with dogs build a stronger immune system. So each time I lick my little sister's face, I am not only showing affection, I am also boosting her health. And also, God willing, tasting a little bit of sweet potato or apple sauce. Praise be to Allah for messy 6-month-old eaters!

Since the ministry is dedicated to charitable works and serving the public good, I have implemented a plan to help the less fortunate children of the congregation -- those deprived young souls who have no dogs. Here is how the MediCanine initiative works:
  • For a $10 donation, you can receive a small bag of pug fur to spread on your child's pillow, ensuring that he or she inhales valuable dog-based organisms while sleeping.
  • For a $20 donation, you can receive a bag of pug fur plus a partially chewed rawhide stick. By letting your child chew on this, you can ensure that he or she is exposed to not one but two distinct sources of life-giving germs. 
  • For a $50 donation, you will receive five bags of fur and five chewsticks -- a $100 value, my flock. This is the best option for value-minded health-care consumers, as well as those with large families. But wait -- there's more! Act now, and the ministry will throw in a Squishy Baff bath kit at no additional charge. (And who knows what kind of germs, subclinical or otherwise, your child could pick up while bathing in that sludge.) That's a $130 value for the low, low price of only $50! Keep in mind that because of the law of supply and demand and the fluctuating price of fur contracts on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, this is a limited-time offer. Fur prices are likely to rise in the winter as shedding abates, so act quickly if you truly love your children.
  • And finally, for a $500 donation, you can arrange a personal audience with me in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, whereupon I will lick Cheez Whiz* off your child's cheeks and hands and then sneeze forcefully in his or her face. This will ensure that immune-boosting organisms are forced deep into the nasal passages, lungs and cerebral cortex, making for a happy, healthy and productive child. 
*NOTE: A comparable processed food product may be substituted.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Chicken sandwiches and change

Over the years, I have noticed that the congregation here at Pug Life Ministries is a politically diverse group. When I look at the news feed on my Facebook wall, I see screeds against President Obama's "socialist" policies alongside banners advocating universal healthcare, flag-filled messages of patriotism alongside accusations of U.S. war crimes. I also see photos of pug puppies and bulldogs in swimming pools; perhaps this is what gives me the strength to keep returning. 

I enjoy having humans from varied backgrounds in the congregation, and I believe it's good to be exposed to different ideas and viewpoints (and potential donors). The reason the ministry has emerged as perhaps the last bit of common ground in this starkly divided country is, of course, my immense charisma and charm. But I think it may also have something to do with the fact that I run an apolitical group, with the obvious exception of my unyielding stances on canine suffrage and universal access to rawhide. 

It is not that I have no core beliefs, like one of our major presidential candidates, or set my core beliefs aside in the interest of political expediency, like the other. I simply do not consider myself a member of either of the dominant political parties in this country, and I cannot bring myself to exhibit public enthusiasm for any politician whom I know will ultimately most likely prove to be a disappointment. You can call that cynical if you like, but remember that no cynic ever fought so hard to implement a canine theocracy -- our last best hope. So, in truth, I am a patriot of the highest order. 

These people must have really wanted some chicken.
I understand. I, too, want some chicken.
As a top executive at Chick-fil-A recently learned, it can be dicey to weigh in on political matters. Sometimes, it is best to tread lightly. And so I will try to keep my pawprints shallow as I address what is, apparently, one of the most important political matters of our time: Eating mor chikin. 

Religious conservatives flocked to Chick-fil-A restaurants Wednesday, waiting in long lines for the pleasure of buying mediocre chicken sandwiches. Some might mock this practice, but I can understand waiting for a meal. I often camp out at my food bowl starting at 3 p.m. so that I'm certain to be there when dinner arrives. 

At the heart of the matter is the debate over same-sex marriage. Given the political and religious diversity in the Pug Life congregation, I suspect that some of you have a certain degree of unease over the idea of two people of the same sex marrying. I confess that I, too, am uneasy with regard to certain aspects of gay marriage. Such is my discomfort that I can say, unequivocally, that I will never wed another man. I simply would not be comfortable doing so. As far as others marrying, I find that letting people pursue happiness in whatever way they please, so long as it doesn't harm others, is generally a good policy. Plus, as an imam who performs wedding ceremonies, I've learned that it is good for business. 

But I will not condemn those in the congregation who do possess misgivings about same-sex marriage. We cannot force these things, and it is best to be honest with oneself. Some of you may be uncomfortable with the idea of marrying someone of another race or religious background, and this is perfectly fine. I, personally, have never been attracted to German shepherds and so have not invited any into my harem. And no, I will not be swayed by the voices of political correctness.

But as a public service, I feel it is necessary to share with you a simple fact. In 30 years, same-sex marriage will be widely accepted in this country, and people will look back on those who impeded its progress in the same light as society at large now looks back on those who fought against interracial marriage or integration of schools or suffrage for black or female voters. Progress trudges along, my flock, and I'd hate for you to find yourselves on the wrong side of history, with nothing to show for it but a wasted lunch hour and the memories of a mediocre chicken sandwich.