The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

June 13, 2013

Mike Pound: Family dog catty when it comes to cheetahs

After reading a story in The New York Times about a new cheetah study, I couldn’t resist teasing our German shepherd, Shilo.

“So, it says here that not only are cheetahs really fast, they also have the ability to leap sideways, change directions and slow down really, really fast,” I said to Shilo, who was staring out our back door to look for squirrels.

“Yawn,” Shilo said. “If a had a dime for every time someone tried to tell me how fast cheetahs supposedly are, I ... well, I probably wouldn’t do anything since I don’t have thumbs.”

Shilo is not a fan of cheetahs. As far as Shilo is concerned, cheetahs are just cats with a public relations firm.

“So you don’t think cheetahs are fast?” I asked.

“Not as fast as a German shepherd,” Shilo said.

I told Shilo that according to the story in The New York Times, cheetahs can run about 60 mph, making them the fastest land mammal.

“If cheetahs are so great, how come they have to hunt for their food?” Shilo asked.

“To eat?” I said.

“If they were fast AND smart like a German shepherd, they would have some loser just give them food,” Shilo said.

“Uh, is one of us supposed to be a loser in this scenario?” I asked.

“Yes,” Shilo said.

I explained to Shilo that according to the Times story, a professor at the Royal Veterinary College at the University of London by the name of Alan M. Wilson studied cheetahs in Botswana and discovered that not only are cheetahs fast, they also have a tight turning radius.

“It says here that the reason cheetahs can turn so quickly is because they can slow down by as much as 9 mph in a single stride,” I said.

“I wonder if the Royal Veterinary College at the University of London has a good football team,” Shilo said.

“You’re not impressed by the cheetah study?” I asked.

“Has a cheetah ever caught a squirrel?” Shilo asked.

In Shilo’s opinion, you’re not a great hunter until you have managed to catch a squirrel. She believes this despite the fact that she, herself, has never caught a squirrel.

“I could catch one if I wanted to. I just choose not to,” Shilo always says.

I told Shilo that Dr. Wilson tracked 10 cheetahs using a special battery-powered, solar-charging tracking collar that uses an accelerometer, a gyroscope and GPS technology.

“My collar has my name on it,” Shilo said.

I told Shilo that another professor at the University of Calgary in Alberta said the tracking collar used in the study was “very clever.”

“So what? He’s from Canada,” Shilo said. “Canadians think bacon is very clever.”

On behalf of Shilo, I apologize to all Canadians.

I told Shilo that Dr. Wilson said the cheetah’s ability to maneuver at high speeds is much better than that of the greyhound and the horse. I told Shilo that Dr. Wilson also said the greyhound and the horse are the cheetah’s closest speed and agility competitors.

“A greyhound? Please. Greyhounds are wimps,” Shilo said.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Greyhounds spend all of the time running around a track trying to catch a fake rabbit,” she said.

“So?” I asked.

“Have they ever caught the rabbit?” Shilo asked.

“What about horses?” I asked.

“They sleep standing up,” Shilo said. “If someone is too dumb to figure out how to lie down, I don’t want anything to do with them.”

“Is there any other animal that you like?” I asked.

“No,” Shilo said.

“What about squirrels?” I asked.

“WHAT? SQUIRRELS! WHERE? QUICK! TELL ME!” Shilo said excitedly.

“Relax,” I said. “There are no squirrels. I was just asking a question.”

“DON’T DO THAT,” Shilo said.

Just then Peanut Butter, one of the cats, walked into the room.

“Hey, did you read this New York Times story about cheetahs?” he said. “I found it to be very informative. Did you know that I’m part cheetah?”

Shilo growled and walked away.

“What’s up with her?” Peanut Butter asked.

“She’s not a fan of cheetahs,” I said.

“Oh. Well, if it helps, I’m also part Canadian,” Peanut Butter said.

DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA for Mike Pound’s column? Call him at 417-623-3480, ext. 7259, or email him at mpound@joplinglobe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mikepoundglobe.

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