If Pets Had Thumbs

Mar 4, 2017

Lacey might be thinking, "I wish I had one of those!"
Credit Mindy Norton

There are holidays for a lot of important occasions, but there are a few light-hearted days on the calendar, as well.  At the beginning of every March, we can celebrate our imagination with "If Pets Had Thumbs" Day!


Yesterday was a holiday of sorts. It was “If Pets Had Thumbs” day. I know it sounds made up, but it’s a real day – even if no one seems to know just who came up with it. But it got me to thinking, what IF my pet had thumbs.

Opposable thumbs are found mostly in humans and primates. Having a thumb makes it possible to grab something with one hand and hold on – or use a tool like a wrench or a screwdriver, or hold a drinking glass or a sandwich. So what would or could a dog or cat do if it had thumbs?

I looked around online but some folks had suggestions that didn’t really make sense. For example I saw several people who thought pets could text, but wouldn’t they need to be able to read? I’ve know some pretty smart dogs and cats who might understand what you say, but to read words? I’m not so sure about that.

So here’s my idea of what a pet might do if it had thumbs.

Number one on my list? Operate the can opener! My cats love canned cat food. If they could help themselves, they would probably gorge on the yummy stuff. When they’re not opening cans, they could unscrew the lids on jars. Or open the refrigerator - imagine your pet not just having access to the milk jug but screwing off the cap.

Another possibility for a pet with thumbs – unlatch the gate. What dog would need to stay cooped up in the back yard if it could open the gate and run free – that is, until it got picked up by animal control or was hit by a car.

Having thumbs would also come in handy for unlocking the door and turning the doorknob – my cats would be roaming the neighborhood if they had the ability to let themselves out.

Your pet might appreciate having thumbs so it wouldn’t have to pick up everything with its mouth. It may actually be able to throw a ball and then chase it. Without thumbs, they need us for that, and a lot of other things. And being needed helps to make for a strong relationship. It gives us a chance to bond with our best friends and keep them safe and healthy, when we’re speaking of pets.