In November 2017, I was a guest on Chion Wolf’s Advice Show (now known as “Asking for a Friend”). We were asked to give advice for several different questions, but the one that I remember the best was the last one. The question basically went like this: You’re backing out of your driveway and you hit your neighbor’s dog, killing it. Do you tell your neighbor or not?
“No,” I said. “People are completely irrational about their dogs, and I’m not trying to take on all of the emotional nonsense that’ll be thrown my way if I admit to killing their dog.” The crowd literally booed that answer.
Now it’s possible that they were booing because I broke some sort of code about honesty and being-good-to-thy-neighbor or whatever, but it felt at the time that I was being booed because I really didn’t give a damn about the theoretical dog I accidentally hit. Honestly, I really don’t. A dog is a dog.
“You’d feel differently if you’d grown up around dogs,” you might say. But I did. Three in fact. When I lived in Hartford as a kid (and for a short time when we moved to Bloomfield), we had two Rottweilers, named Ra and Bo, and a black Labrador mutt creatively named Black. I didn’t like Bo at all, and Ra was kind of just there as far as I was concerned. But I loved Black. He was playful and loyal and loving, and he was the best dog my brothers and I could have hoped for.
Or…at least I think he was? I was young when Black was alive, and he died before I turned ten. As I try my best to remove the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia and childhood from my eyes, Black wasn’t around that often. He was what we called an “outdoor dog”- that is, he was almost never in the house. We’d open the door in the morning, and he went outside, and he’d come back home at night when it was time to eat and go to sleep. In Hartford, everyone knew Black, so it was no problem for him to wander around the neighborhood all day. It was a bit of an adjustment period when we moved to Bloomfield, but eventually the neighbors got with the program and stopped calling animal control every time they saw him roaming. That’s how he died. We let him out one day, and he never came back. Our school bus driver told us a few weeks later that he saw him lying on the side of the road.
All of that is to say that yes, I grew up with dogs. I even lived with a dog as an adult. One of my exes had a Shih-Tzu/Poodle mix, and she lived with me for three years. That dog was really like a more interesting cat than a dog though. She was very small, she never barked, she didn’t shed, she pooped in a little box like a cat, and was generally agreeable and inoffensive. If all dogs are like this, I thought, then I love dogs!
As you probably know, dear reader, all dogs are not like this.
I was rudely awakened to the true nature of canines last year, when I moved in with my current roommates. My roommate was caring for his niece’s Beagle, a dog known for a less-than-ideal disposition. Beagles are described as “…a merry, easy going dog that loves family, especially children, and is prone to moments of mischievous clowning. Curious, intelligent, and mildly stubborn, that Beagle is renowned for both its antics and its affection.” This dog embodies mischief and stubbornness to a T. ” Ah, a lovable rapscallion,” a dog person might say. But not being a dog person, I find all of these traits annoying at best.
Here’s what’s wrong with dogs in general: they’re two year olds who never grow up. They always have to be fed; they always have to be walked and cleaned up after; they always give you that dumb look where they act like they don’t know what you said but you know they do; they always cost money and can never earn any; they never get old enough to do chores and help run the household; they always stink and give you a hard time when it’s time for a bath. They grow from cute to annoying, but never grow from annoying to interesting like children do. They’re just dumb forever.
And then there’s the dog-specific behaviors. I don’t like barking. Don’t look at me when I’m eating food. Don’t lick me with your dirty ass tongue. Don’t jump onto my bed and shed. Don’t bother me to pet you or jump all over my friends when they visit. Just…stop being a dog.
Living with dogs as an adult has shown me that I don’t like anything that dogs actually do. That’s of course a set of personal preferences, but I felt compelled to write about it because of the almost cult-like obsession around dogs as companions. The dog memes were cute at first, but it started to seem like it was taboo or even frowned upon to say a bad thing about dogs. Well, no more. I’m taking a stand against the memes. Dogs suck. They’re just another bill. I have my needs for affection met by other humans. They invariably die before we do, and I’m not up for all the weeping and gnashing of teeth when that occurs. I’m glad you like your dog, but just know I do not feel the same way.