Going to the Dogs

Hello, fellow citizens of Earth! I’m Smarty R-T, and I’m your holographic helper for those of you who have decided to spend your vacation here at my home away from home, the beautiful planet of Canus Lepta VII. On behalf of the Tourist Bureau, welcome, one and all!

Now, if you’ve come this far, that means that you’re open-minded, and you’ll be more than happy to hear my simple and easy tips for a safe, pleasant and intergalactic-diplomatic-incident-free visit to this unique and enjoyable world. You’ve ignored the completely baseless rumors about the food, you’ve discounted the wildly overexaggerated statistics about maulings and sexual assaults, and you’ve been vaccinated against rabies and the effects of giardia and cryptosporidium protozoa. Now, if you’ll just heed these simple, easy-to-remember rules, I’m sure your vacation will be one to remember — and not in a bad way, like the time when you went to the Stalinist maggotoid homeworld! Are you ready? Then let’s begin.

First of all, it never hurts to state the obvious: the inhabitants of Canus Lepta VII are descended from dogs, just as you and I are descended from apes. But that doesn’t make the mayor of Sticksburg a dog any more than eating a banana makes you a monkey! The Canus Leptans are a unique race of canoids, who happen to have descended from an anscestor common to both themselves and the dog. What does this all mean? I won’t bore you with the scientific details, but suffice to say, the inhabitants of this world are not dogs. Thus, great care should be taken not to call them dogs, to refer to their homeworld as the Planet of the Dogs, or to offer them rawhide chew toys. This will only lead to confusion at best and embarrassment and resentment at worst.

Which leads me to Smarty R-T’s next tip: do not treat the inhabitants of Canus Lepta like dogs. Just as you would not like to be fed Monkey Chow, have feces hurled at you by another member of your species, or be injected with cancer-causing agents and observed in the process of slow and painful death by a white-coated lab technician, so too do the Canus Leptans have no desire to be patted on the head, eat food that you do not feel like eating yourself, or have a restraining collar placed around their necks. While certain behavior patterns, seemingly familiar to you, might suggest that they enjoy being rubbed on the belly until their feet flail about wildly, this is something that is only done within the species, and then between couples that share a degree of intimacy that you are unlikely to foster during your two weeks here. Also remember, the wagging of the tail is a largely involuntary neuromuscular response not unlike blinking. By no means take it as an invitation to throw balls, twigs or rolled-up newspapers at a citizen of the planet of Canus Lepta.

When traveling off-planet, it’s always good to remember Smarty R-T’s Golden Rule: treat others the way you would like to be treated. How would you like it if a group of aliens landed on your front lawn and began speaking to you as if you were an infant or a sweetly retarded person? Not much, I’d wager. You would probably like it even less if you were a judge, an accountant, or a scientist, and on your lunch hour, you were besieged by tourists who incessantly inquired whether or not you were a good boy. With the aid of your ViBox universal translator, you will easily be able to understand Canus Leptan speech and they will be able to understand you, with no recourse to baby-talk. And no matter how attractive you may find one of the natives, do exercise common courtesy and take the time to learn their real names rather than asking “who’s a fluffy bunny-pup”, or worse, calling them “Rover”, “Spot” or “Knuckles”. In the Leptan tongue these are particularly egregious ethnic slurs. Use good sense, and speak sensibly.

Finally, a problem which often leads to confusion to first-time visitors is the fact that the Canus Leptans keep dogs as pets. Now, please, try and follow along with Smarty R-T here; it’s really not that difficult if you only pay attention, and we can avoid another ugly confrontations like with Mrs. Haselbank in 2347 which ended up in a costly and terrible war which I’m sure we all remember. There are actual dogs on Canus Lepta, and the Canus Leptans keep them as pets, but the Canus Leptans themselves, despite the great similarity, are not dogs! This may seem confusing at first, but look at it this way: humans are descended from apelike creatures, and yet there are still apes, and some people keep chimpanzees (the human’s most immediate ancestor) as pets. And although this may seem daunting, a few easy points of reference can save you from a world of trouble:

- If the creature is capable of speech, abstract thought, and using opposable thumbs to manipulate technology, it is not a dog, but a Leptan.

- Dogs, unlike their doglike Leptan masters who keep them as pets, do not talk, stand on their hind legs, or wear clothing, except on very rare state occasions. By the same token, Leptans, unlike their canine pets, do not defecate on the sidewalk or copulate with their chosen mates in the front yard of their homes.

- The Leptan is the one who built the starcraft that transported you in style and comfort to his beautiful, temperate vacation paradise of a homeworld. The dog is the one ramming his face into your crotch (though check with your world’s ambassador if there ware any questions or ambiguities regarding this matter).

Well, that’s it! Please have fun enjoying this sun-drenched getaway, and keep Smarty R-T handy if you need any further tips. Just remember: yes, they’re funny, and yes, they’re animals. But don’t call them funny animals. They don’t get it.

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