Admittedly, this will likely fall into the “Voice of Treason” category of blog…but don’t shoot me. Or at least hear me out, first. I figure the best time to post this is when everyone still has warm fuzzies for me after the Myrtle post. Plus, even if this makes you hate me, you know that there’s an innocent dependent’s well-being on the line if any harm comes my way.
Nah, let’s stick with just not shooting me. Just don’t do me any favors.
Here’s the thing. I’ve actively started saying that I don’t like dogs.
Me, the guy who dog sits for friends.
Me, the guy with two exes that have left me “responsible” for a total of four canines in my life. Seriously, do I know how to pick a shitty, unaccountable guy or do I?
Me, the guy who smiles when dogs walk by.
Me, the guy who has a dog-voice that I use to carry on conversations with dogs.
Ok, I kind of love dogs.
I frequently say that dogs are the best people. Their unconditional love. The way they are always happy to see you when you come home. How they are always up for a good time, regardless of my level of enthusiasm for said good time.
They’re like the Julie McCoy of the Animal Kingdom. Let’s have fun, everyone! Every minute! Every day! Fun, fun, fun!
Maybe I just have a higher-level appreciation of them versus wanting to own one. Or let your dog’s presence mandate where we spend our social time together.
I’m obviously a horrible person.
So, shut up. I like cats better. They are independent. Can’t be bothered with me most of the time, unless I’m trying to sleep, it would seem. And somehow, owning the requisite box of shit that comes along with a cat is preferable to me to four walks a day where I sink my hand into a steaming pile with only the thinnest gauge of plastic separating me from a complete germophobic meltdown.
I’m sure it’s part of my aforementioned “evolving” germophobia, but dogs just have a lot of stinky, slobbery and hairy debris that comes with their unconditional love:
Their “The World Is My Kleenex” habit of shoving their nose everywhere. Have you ever seen a car window after a dog has ridden in the car and the window wasn’t down? Yeah, those slobbery, snotty smears also end up on your pants every time a dog shoves its nose into your crotch. On your hands and arms when you play with them.
People who kiss dogs on the nose or mouth? The thought practically triggers my gag reflex.
The argument that a dog’s mouth is the cleanest part of it’s body? Yeah, that doesn’t mean it’s a sterile surface or even one remotely approaching clean. It’s just the cleanest part of a big, goofy, dirty, lovable organism.
Wanna play catch with a dog? Have fun with that. That ball, knotted rope, frisbee, what-have-you…those are pretty much single serve toys for me. After the first time you throw it, it’s coming back soaked in dog drool.
Those four walks a day I mentioned earlier? Yeah, I live in the PNW, it rains here. It’s muddy. Dogs pee and poop in that mud. Then other dogs walk in that shitty, pissy mud and we humans walk through it, tracking it everywhere.
Yup. Definitely a high level appreciation of dogs. That’s what I got.
What a cute dog! From across the street.
Now, this is not to say that I don’t absolutely love the dogs in my circle of family and friends. There’s a good half dozen pooches I can’t possibly escape in my day to day existence. My best friend is fostering a dog while his owner is couch surfing at a friend’s between his permanent residences. The Silver Fox was absolutely gaga over this hound the second they met. This 95 lb, 7 month old, completely undisciplined and untrained bird-brained, elephant-hearted retriever.
The Fox comes to my place almost every day with a pot of coffee and frequently his laptop to get some peace and quiet. That dog pretty much has no off button. If you’re around…let’s play! If you’re on the phone or typing on your laptop, he’s gonna sit beside you and bark until you stop what you’re doing and drop him off at the pound. Wait…play with him. That’s what he thinks he’s doing, inviting you to play.
Me? I get pretty great coffee out of the deal. And the completely un-grim satisfaction of having my low-grade pooch aversion validated by my best friend. And there is no doubt in my mind that this man loves this – and probably any – canine, or as I like to call them, insanines.
But here’s the deal, he’s not uncommon in his absolute love for dogs. My seeming aversion to them is the weird thing. Maybe I just admit it, talk about it out loud; while he grabs a pot of coffee and hoofs it across the park for an escape. A retired man and a near critical mass energetic retriever are probably as odd a couple as any. My theory? Dogs need time in isolation every day in order for the realization that the world is not their chew toy to sink in. These two poor, lovable bastards are screwed to feed each other’s love/loathe relationship for the foreseeable future…here’s hoping the couch-guest finds a forever-home for himself and the dog before the mutual psychosis sets in permanently between the Fox and hound. If the Fox convinces himself that having a dog around isn’t so bad, I’m gonna have to move out of the state and conduct our friendship over bark-laden phone calls.
The flip side of that “everyone just inherently loves dogs” coin is the fact that dogs have become the new Jeep Culture or Runner’s Bond.
I was a recreational runner for 35 years. I owned a Jeep longer than my ex found amusing or acceptable. I’ve been exposed to both of these camaraderie cultures.
Runners – definitely here in Portland, but even as I recall in Long Beach, LA and (gawd help me, I am not saying something nice about Texas) Houston – were always pleasant to encounter. Oncoming runners generally could be relied upon to smile, nod or give you a floppy-wristed wave as they crossed your path. Not that there weren’t those runners that passed from behind – so annoying – and greeted you with an all too loud “On your left!” moments before overtaking you. Well, hell…it was pretty much screamed in your ear as they passed you, as if to reinforce the fact that you were officially losing at getting in shape by comparison. Perhaps I project.
Anyway, this was all also before the advent of MP3 players, iPods and the like, which now enable us to tune out and ignore the people around us, whether we’re running, jogging, speed-walking or just carrying on about our daily lives about town. But that’s another blog.
Likewise, when I had my Jeep, meeting another Jeep driver at an intersection generally came with a bond of ownership between myself and the other driver. It was super nice. Although, I admit the brouhaha that ensued amongst the clan when Jeep switched headlight shapes from round to rectangular in the 90’s was a nearly irreparable chasm in the brotherhood. But you could still at least count on a grudgingly bestowed nod of the head to acknowledge your vehicle, while not outright questioning your Jeep-cred. Man, thank goodness they switched back to round headlights. Crisis averted.
So, now the social mantle seemingly falls to dog owners. Great. I’m all for an awesome feeling of community within my community. The issue I have with that manifesting amongst canine enthusiasts is the absolute certainty that a stranger is going to lose their shit about how cute your dog is. No matter what you’re doing. No matter how cute your dog actually is.
Talking on the phone? No worries, I’m just talking to your dog in a super-high pitched voice, getting the beastie all riled up while you try to hold the leash with one hand and your phone with the other.
Sitting at a sidewalk cafe discussing personal things with your best friend? No problem, I’m just gonna get down on my hands and knees and talk to your dog…asking questions like, “How cute are you?!” “How old are you, sweetie?” “What’s your name?”
Well, I hate to break it to you, dummy, but that dog can’t actually respond to your inane questions. I have to. Let me break away from what I’m doing to answer those questions for your so that I don’t look like an asshole, asshole. No offense.
Then there’s the street people who are your best friend when they see you have a dog with you.
“She’s beautiful! I bet that gets you a lot of attention from the ladies, eh?” Blink, blink.
“What a big dog! What do you feed him?” Homeless people, mostly.
“My daddy used to have a dog just like you!” It’s really not appropriate for a woman your age to refer to your rather likely deceased father as “daddy”.
“Oh, I love you! You want to come home with me?” You have a needle in your arm.
I think the dog answered for himself on that last one.
Maybe I’m just bitter at my forced retirement from running and therefore notice the shortcomings of similarly enthusiastic shared cultural bonds between Americans. Earning my grumpy, old man chops by picking on poor, defenseless, lovable pups.
Runners really are good people, though.
The best, right behind dogs.