This is not a good time to be a dog in Parowan. Several family pets have been shot within city limits in the last year because they got loose, including one at the hand of the police chief last week, which made the news. Dog owners and citizens are upset.

All this is bad enough, but then I read this statement in the wake of last week's incident:

"With all the issues we have to talk about, there are many things more important than a dog," Parowan mayor Donald Landes told the Salt Lake Tribune.

Can you imagine a dog saying the same thing about a man — if he could talk, I mean?

Sure, there's war in the Middle East and the economy stinks and the Parowan police chief is being charged and an NFL strike is looming and the Japanese are digging out of the rubble and BYU-Jimmer has to play Florida in the Sweet 16 — all important issues that people want to talk about. But can't we still talk about a family's dog being shot and do something about it?

What's better than a dog? Dogs are some of the best people I know, if you know what I mean.

We should all be like dogs — other than engaging in loud personal hygiene habits with our tongues in public and pooping on the neighbor's lawn and sniffing hind body parts of perfect strangers.

Old joke: Lock your dog and your wife in the trunk of a car for a couple of hours and then open it. Which one will be happy to see you? Which one will leap into your arms and kiss you?

If you were a dog, you would never pout, never give someone the silent treatment and never hold grudges. You'd run to greet family members and friends as if you hadn't seen them in years instead of hours. You'd be glad to see everybody, even the mailman.

You'd jump at the chance to go for a ride in the car with family members and friends. True story: A perfect stranger pulled up in front of our house to deliver a package to a neighbor and left his car door open. Our dog jumped in and called dibs on the front seat.

If you were a dog, you'd stick your head out the car window just to feel the breeze in your face, like a kid. You'd press your nose to the window and look with wonder at the world passing by (even if you weren't driving).

You'd always be in a good mood; you'd be uncomplicated and low maintenance. Paris Hilton, you would not be.

You wouldn't require much. Just some dry, gacky food once or twice a day and an occasional table scrap, combined with a little attention, and you're good to go.

You'd be patient and grateful for anything you got. Ever notice how a dog can sit for hours watching you grill steaks with only a slim hope that a tiny scrap might fall or get tossed his way — the smells and sizzling must be torture — and if he gets nothing, he's still your pal and he'll be waiting there next time you fire up the grill.

If you were a dog, you'd know how to relax. When nothing's happening, you'd plop down and fall a sleep as easy as turning off a light switch.

You wouldn't need coffee to start your day or drugs and alcohol or even TV to get through it.

When someone loses his temper and takes it out on you, you'd forgive and forget.

You'd always be ready to play. You'd chase a ball with your friends, even though it's an entirely pointless exercise. You'd lead blind people and love it. You'd dig in snow to find buried strangers and love that, too. Or you'd just lie there and be bored until you were needed -- on call 24/7.

There are more important things than dogs, but not really. The little things make life good and, besides, how we take care of dogs in this country says a lot about the country.

When I contacted Mayor Landes via email, he was good enough to reply: "I need to clarify that statement," he wrote. "I did not mean to imply that a dog was of no consequence, rather I was speaking about the significant importance of this particular event in relation to Chief Griffiths and the terrible events occurring in Japan. I am a strong supporter of people owning dogs as I have myself."

I don't know what a murdered dog in Parowan has to do with an earthquake in Japan, but there are always going to be bigger problems somewhere.. How a dog is treated is important; it says something about us.

It's good to live in a place where a dog and his treatment matters.