Engineers at Saint Louis University are pioneering the use of robotic dogs in nursing homes to comfort the residents and dispel their loneliness and depression. A geriatric medicine professor conducting the study is quoted as saying, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful not to have the fuss and muss of a living dog?”

What a disheartening commentary on the state of our world.

Just last week television brought us a story of little asthmatic boy who suffered an attack in the middle of the night. He was passed out on the bathroom floor when the family’s dog, an Airedale Terrier, found him and immediately alarmed the boy’s sleeping parents.

How lucky that little boy was that his parents never even thought to own a pet robot.

The devotion of dogs, the special bond between them and their owners, is one of the great mysteries of life. Once this bond develops, it is almost impossible to break. Man might break it, the dog won’t. A dog’s loyalty is unbounded, and permanent.

If you have ever seen an ill child hug a dog close, and bury her face in his fur, and kiss his nose, you know the suggestion that robots could provide such comfort is absurd. No robot can match the comfort and love that a warm, furry, licking, breathing dog can give.

And what sort of a person specializing in geriatrics could possibly think about fuss and muss when surely he can see how much a loving dog can mean to people whose lives have few bright spots?

We cringe to think of the federal grant money that was probably spent on this totally worthless and ridiculous study.

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