Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

By Parker Heinlein
Outdoors columnist 

My pet was definitely cuter than yours


April 24, 2019

There’s a photo of Spot at our cabin on the lake when she was 14. She’s plopped down in the kitchen doorway looking cute.

Our friend Elizabeth took the picture, had it framed, and gave it to us as a gift nearly two years ago. It’s a great portrait, and what we thought would be a wonderful memory of the old dog.

Except that she’s still here.

No longer looking cute, but still on her feet, Spot isn’t going anywhere fast, but she’s still going.

I considered entering the picture of her in the Chronicle’s Cutest Pet Photo Contest. She’d be sure to win. We’re always convinced that our own pets are the cutest.

However, to be honest, my more recent pictures of her are anything but cute. She’s bony and her muzzle is graying. Her coat is coming out in clumps and she stinks. That’s what happens to cute pets if they live long enough. It’s not pretty and it’s anything but cute.

Nonetheless, it’s what I signed up for.

But while every dog I’ve owned has undoubtedly been the cutest, not all of my pets fit into that category. I kept snakes as pets when I was a kid and although I found them fascinating, few others did.

For a time I had a pet opossum that bared it’s teeth and hissed when I opened it’s cage. With its bald tail and sparkling personality, it was anything but cute. Same with the snapping turtles I used to catch and bring home.

The opossum never bit me but I can’t say the same about the snakes and turtles. That certainly took the edge off any cuteness they may have had.

My dog Jem has always been cute. He’s had a puppy face all his life, and he’s soon to turn 13. I hunted him harder than I did Spot so I expect him to simply tip over some day instead of lingering like she has.

But what I’d like is seldom what happens. I’d like Spot to pass quietly in her sleep. She apparently has other plans to which I’m not privy.

I’m sure the winner of the Cutest Pet Photo Contest will be deserving and most likely will be a cat or dog. Reptiles rarely win these things.

Neither do ancient springer spaniels.

You should have seen her at 14, though. She was a prize winner.

Parker Heinlein is at


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