When I came out of the bathroom one morning, my wife, Marsha, said, “You were in there talking about what you were going to do today. I think you’re going crazy.”

This was a surprise to me. I didn’t realize that I talked out loud to myself.

But as the day went on, I realized that when I was alone I muttered all the time. Listening to myself for the first time, I was somewhat shocked to hear myself employing lexical items that I never use with anyone but must have acquired in 1973 while listening to the Nixon White House tapes. So, because I don’t want people to think I’m bonkers, I might have to get a little doggie friend. People who talk to animals are considered normal.

It was probably 60 years ago that my father’s dog Susie died, so I might have a problem learning how to care for a pet in this day and age.

If you can remember when Doggie’s primary sustenance was table scraps, your grandchildren have probably had several serious discussions about hiding the keys to your car.

If you are really old, you might be able to remember when Doggie roamed about the neighborhood as freely as children did.

Admittedly, back then a freezing rain or below-zero temperatures might have warranted Doggie’s admission to the house – if there wasn’t a nice comfortable hay barn at the other end of the backyard where he could bed down with the cows.

But today’s doggie has been anthropomorphized to the point where he sleeps with his owner and eats expensive food from brightly illustrated cans. He sits by the table and after the meal eagerly laps clean the dinner plates.

A social scientist might attribute this curious turn of events to an affluent society. Although why more expendable income should make anyone who does not live in an igloo want to sleep with a dog is anyone’s guess.

Do you have friends who shudder when you suggest that Doggie might be comfortable on a blanket on the garage floor? Well past the age of 70, I slept more than a few nights on hardwood floors after doing stage shows on a Maine island. And anyone who has survived a week of Outward Bound will tell you that anyone who can sleep in a cold, wet boat would welcome nights in a doghouse or a barn.

Today, even the word “doghouse” has at worst the unpleasant connotation of marital strife and at best will chill the coffee at the breakfast table.

If you have spent any time in the great outdoors with doggies, you know that, like any animal (or a 3-year-old child), they will scoffle up off the street things that your normal old Maine man would find repulsive: Slugs. Yogurt. Pepperoni pizza. Quiche.

If you give this any serious thought at all, you will realize that if canned dog food were bought by dogs, the list of ingredients and the pictures on the can might include some fresh roadkill and some greasy rags. But because canned dog food is dropped into grocery carts by dog lovers, the pictures on the can and the list of ingredients have to approximate what yuppies would like to see on their own dinner plates: generous juicy chunks of chicken and fresh green vegetables.

Nowadays it is difficult to watch a television commercial for dog food without wanting to get down on your elbows and savor the protein, oils, vitamins and minerals for yourself.

We are not here to argue that attributing humanoid characteristics to doggies is good or bad but to point out that in my neighborhood 70 years ago, rubbing noses with or kissing a family pet would have raised more than a few eyebrows.

It has not escaped our attention that billions of extra dollars have been generated simply by having Doggie assume the psychological mantle of his human friends. And that this anthropomorphism – this habit we have of attributing human characteristics to animals – is driven by Madison Avenue, which has obviously found one more profitable market.

At the end of the day, however, a dog is a dog, and if you clean the hamburger grease off your grill with paper towels at suppertime and throw those paper towels in a wastebasket, the minute you turn your back your 90-pound dog will swallow the whole business.

A few hours later, Mother Nature steps in and Doggie expels those greasy towels – which was never a problem when he slept in the barn or his own little house.

But if he sleeps on your bed, you will have a delicate project on your hands in the morning.

I do like doggies. And I like cows. But there is a place for animals, and it is not in my bed.

The humble Farmer can be seen on Community Television in and near Portland and visited at his website:

www.thehumblefarmer.com/MainePrivateRadio.html