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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

January 24, 2012

Whatever's Left, Right?

By Elizabeth Creith


There was a while there a couple of years ago when pig's ears were almost impossible to get. The story was that they were all being shipped to Asia, where people ate them. I don't know if that was true or not—they could just as easily have been going to Paris and being made into silk purses, for all I knew.

The shortage was hard on some of our customers—or maybe their dogs. We have a bulk bin of pig ears, and so many people buy them six, eight or 12 at a time that we have a discount for a half-dozen or more. Sometimes people pick their own, and sometimes they ask at the counter if we can get them.

Pig ears
I always check for equal numbers of lefts and rights. Am I obsessive-compulsive? Maybe a little. Besides, isn't it always possible that the handedness—or earedness—of the dog's treats might affect his balance? Maybe dogs that get only left—or only right—pig ears develop that sideways-drifting trot you so often see.
Whenever I watch Sky trot down the driveway, bearing slightly but perceptibly towards the left, I promise myself that she will get only right ears until her gait straightens out. Of course, these things never work out as you want them—either there are no right ears or someone else buys them or David gives her an ear without checking whether it's right or left. He doesn't subscribe to my theory. Judging from the amusement of my customers when I match up the ears, most of them don't subscribe to it, either.

It's pretty hard to come up with data for it, I'll admit. I mean, I can't actually ask people to, say, feed their dogs only right ears or only left ears and then observe and measure the drift of the dog's trot. It's not like I'm giving them electric shocks or trying to make them drool on command. All the same, for some reason, people object to their dogs being the subject of experiments.

For another thing, it's hardly a controlled experiment, is it? I mean, suppose the husband buys matched ears from me, but the wife, on impulse, picks up a single ear on the way home. I'll bet she doesn't even notice if it's right or left—most people don't. And there goes all your data, straight out the dog door—and probably bearing sideways, to boot.

Really, the only way I could be sure of my hypothesis is if we were the only store in town that sold pig ears, and even then I'd have to be Mistress of Pig Ears, seven days a week. If David won't even check on which ear he's giving Sky, I'm sure he'd never check a customer's pig ears.

"They're buying them," he says. "They can choose which ones they want. It doesn't matter if they match."

Some people have no commitment to science.

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