The Times West Virginian

Opinion

June 22, 2014

COLUMN: Let’s exercise a little common sense

We adopted Indy more than a year ago from the Marion County Humane Society.

The wiry, excitable terrier is black, which was one of the draws, honestly. White hair is awful.

In our home, there’s Jeter, a big and fat white cat with thick white hair that gets on everything from furniture to clothes. Then there’s Alex, our sweet little girl kitty with fine black and white hair. She likes to sleep on clean and folded clothes, so she leaves nice patches of fine white and black hair behind that are very hard to remove from clothing.

So a black dog meant no more white hair to clean up. Granted, there’s black hair. But at least it isn’t white.

But a black dog comes with a whole new set of problems, as my mother frequently reminds me. I have to make sure he always has plenty to drink. I guess it makes sense. If you wear a black shirt in the sun, you feel hotter. I suppose if you were covered with black hair from head to paw, you’d probably feel hotter in the sun, too. No scientific proof there, ’mind you. I just figure.

Speaking of scientific proof, early last week, a Facebook friend shared a post that read “NO ICE WATER FOR DOGS ... PLEASE READ ASAP.” I did as the shocking headline read. I just kind of scanned the page, actually. OK, make mental note, don’t give Indy ice water. Not that we do anyway, but just for future reference.

By the time I got to work, at least five Facebook friends had shared the post. So I clicked on the link again to figure out what all the fuss was about.

First of all, I was pretty suspect because the post on the blog was from the summer of 2010 — four years ago. And secondly, it was a blog from a corgi breeder. And the blog was just posting a letter from a fan/friend who had gone through a medical issue with her dog after a hot day at a dog show.

The fan/friend was relating what a vet told her after her dog consumed a large amount of ice water. So, that means the information was delivered by the vet to the fan/friend to the blogger four years ago.

It was, at that point, completely suspect and not reliable at all. I was annoyed. And as the post was shared by a dozen friends during the day, I was increasingly tempted to respond to each post. I didn’t because I don’t. No one likes the guy who posts a link to Snopes to disprove a link you’ve shared. I didn’t have to after all. By the next day, the wall was exploding with people sharing news stories disproving the original “PLEASE READ ASAP” post.

If you do a news search, there are no less than 57,000 articles from various news services — TV, newspapers, radio, web-exclusive news sites — with probably 57,000 different vets all saying the same thing. If you give a dog a large amount of water, no matter the temperature, it can be deadly. So if your dog is hot and thirsty, use some common sense when hydrating your dog.

Common sense. Hmm. The lack of common sense is what caused this post to go viral four years later anyway. People read a big bold headline in all caps and shared it on their walls. It had gone so viral that almost 60,000 doses of common sense had to be administered through the media. That’s OK. The whole situation got hits for media sites and for the original blog.

And speaking of the original blog, the post was updated in response to the viral sharing. She kind of apologetically corrected the post, added some hyperlinks to clarify the information provided and tried to make it seem like she didn’t blindly share information without researching it to begin with.

So, folks, let’s exercise a little common sense. Don’t give your dog a giant serving of any temperature water. Don’t blindly share posts without looking into them a little further. And when headlines are in all caps and use “PLEASE READ ASAP,” little red flags should go up.

Misty Poe is the managing editor of the Times West Virginian and can be reached by phone at 304-367-2523, by email at mpoe@timeswv.com or on Twitter @MistyPoeTWV.

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