Hellfire and dalmations.

Hellfire and dalmations.

Hellfire and dalmations.

Policy made plain.
Sept. 21 1997 3:30 AM

Hellfire and dalmations.

Hellfire and Dalmatians

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Doggonit! Way back, last December, Slate warned the world not to believe all the Disney propaganda about the charm of Dalmatian puppies. Contrary to 101 Dalmatians--in either its original cartoon format or last year's real-people-and-real-dogs remake--Dalmatians are not cute. As David Plotz reported: "Dalmatians are high-strung. They're hyperactive. They bark too much. They're bad with children. They shed constantly. They're hard to train. ... They are, in short, lousy pets." Ignoring (or possibly, though it is hard to imagine, unaware of) this sage counsel, many families went straight from the multiplex to the pet store and brought home a spotted darling of their own.

Now these families are saying, with Lady Macbeth, "Out, damned Spot!" According to the New York Times (building on earlier reports from WABC and the Columbia Journalism Review), Dalmatians are being abandoned in droves. "Animal shelters say owners have found the dogs high-strung, willful and aggressive." Furthermore, there are "health problems associated with overbreeding," including "deafness and urinary tract problems." (These problems are manifest, in case you were wondering, in the offspring that result from overbreeding, not in the dogs on overbreeding duty.)

Animal rights activists are predicting another wave of Dalmatian refugees when a new TV series based on the movie begins airing. Please: Avoid taking animals home just because they seemed cute on the screen. People too, for that matter.

Lion and Lamb

As some readers may have learned in Time or the Wall Street Journal this week, Slate and America Online have come to an agreement on a new relationship. Beginning soon, Slate will be an "anchor tenant" on AOL's Newsstand. (For more details, check out the press release.) Just so there is no confusion about this, let us be clear: Slate is not "taking over" or "swallowing up" America Online. AOL will continue to function as an independent online service. Its customers will be free not to read Slate if they so desire. Slate, for its part, will retain (and cherish!) its sibling relationships with the Microsoft Network (MSN) and MSNBC. All will be peaceful and joyous. Of course Slate does retain the right to swallow up America Online at some future date.

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--Michael Kinsley

Michael Kinsley is a columnist, and the founding editor of Slate.