Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Animals can be alcoholics, too

Think we humans have cornered the market on addictive behaviors? A story from the Chicago Chronicle, reprinted in the Sept. 3, 1902, East Oregonian, shows that animals that have a chance to imbibe can develop drinking problems, too.

The first story was about a St. Bernard from Chicago that had developed a taste for beer, so much so that he shamelessly begged and bullied visitors to his master’s stable for nickels when he thought it had been too long between drinks. In securing his money, the dog would take it to his favorite drinking establishment, put his paws and payment on the bar and receive a small tub of beer. If the client he decided would provide the money for his next drink refused to cough up, the dog proceeded from begging to barking, growling and head-butting the unfortunate person until he got his nickel. And he was smart enough to know the difference between a penny and a nickel, though he didn’t apparently make the connection between a dime and two tubs of brew. But with a large number of patrons from whom to secure his fix, he didn’t really need higher math skills.

The second animal drunk was a horse in the suburbs of New York that  was owned by a contractor. When the horse was temporarily lamed it was allowed to wander around the stable yard while it healed. Next door to the stable was a drinking establishment, and one day the horse stuck its head in the window to see what was happening. The barkeeper at that moment had a tub of drippings from a keg that he was about to throw away, but instead shoved it under the horse’s nose and watched the beer disappear. From that day on, the horse would present itself three times a day at the window for his allotment, and the horse’s master settled the bill once a week.

The last animal with a taste for beer was a white and gray rabbit living in an “otherwise respectable” home. The matron of the family, who had complained of weakness, was instructed by her doctor to drink a bottle of beer each night before going to bed. One evening the rabbit jumped into her lap while she was taking her tonic and was allowed to try a few drops. When the rabbit showed an unquestionable liking for the beer, it was given more and soon was entertaining the family by running around the house in a “most eccentric and ludicrous manner clearly and hilariously intoxicated.” The rabbit continued to get its share every night, and thrived on the addition to its regular meals. When the woman regained her strength and suspended the nightly practice, the rabbit also gave up its nightly drink, though apparently quite reluctantly.

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