I don't understand how people can be cruel to animals. It's not even the whole "can they think" thing - it's that you're being cruel to another living creature.
Case in point - that animal planet show about the humane society going and rescuing animals. I can only watch a short part - I can't fathom that kind of cruelty. It just makes me physically ill. I think of all the animals I've loved - Sabot, Yankee, Harry, ACDC and Tigger - and can't imagine being like that. From the chaining up of dogs all day long every day, to the declawing of cats (granted - I've only recently understood what happens to cats when they're declawed)...to just being...horrible to them.
Probably the most difficult thing as an animal owner is when they start to get old. At what point does our selfish need for that animal outwiegh the quality of life the animal is living? Harry is still doing well - he has his issues but still enjoys life, playing, etc. Mom and Dad love that dog and worry about him so much (as do I, but I'm not there often enough to really see how he's doing)....they take him to the vet and get him healthy and are giving him a great quality of life in his older years. But what about people who can't deal with taking animals to the vet (because of what the vet might say) and then making the animal suffer more. Is that right? Is that just thinking more about yourself than the animal you've committed to taking care of? I don't know...a lot of this is just how people view animals (pets vs animals, possession vs caretaker).
Have you seen the book "Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World's Worst Dog" by John Grogan? It's about an owner and his yellow lab...I've read portions of the book and keep toying with buying it - Costco has it for pretty cheap. Right now, though - it would make me miss Sabot too much. I've checked out his web site (www.marleyandme.com) and the pictures are great and his blog is so funny.
I watched the Westminster dog show a little bit the other night. I timed it just right because they finished the terriers and were starting the sporting group. I love both these breeds - there was a beautiful Irish terrier (I think...) - no wheaties though. And then there were the golden retreivers and the labs. The labs they show though are so different - fatter heads...stockier bodies... Very un-Sabot like (with his big floppy ears).
I miss Sabot and Yankee. Can't wait till I'm home with them.