I’ve been thinking about dogs lately. This is odd, since I don’t own a dog and have no plans to do so. As any devotee of social media knows, you can’t escape the world of dogs. Facebook, in particular, is a dog cult. Regardless of how diverse one’s friends may be, you will see posts every day about dogs. They transcend religious and political differences, age, race and sex. From the most staunch right-winger to the wildest-eyed liberal, dogs are beloved.
None of God’s creatures enjoys such good PR as dogs. Rin Tin Tin, Lassie, Old Yeller–beloved. Even when dogs are bad, it’s not their fault. Cujo was a good dog until that damn rabid bat bit him. Even Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell was demon-possessed. I’m sure he was a good boy, yes he was.
People don’t hesitate to say they hate cats. In fact, if people love dogs, they usually hate cats. Snakes are universally hated. No one will admit to hating dogs. Even Michael Vick–the most notorious dog abuser on Earth–says he likes dogs. Go figure.
People will post pictures of their dogs on Facebook. They will post pictures of other people’s dogs. They will post funny photos, sad photos, sentimental photos. The captions will range from the humorous to heart-rending. There are posts about soldiers loving dogs, dogs loving soldiers, rescue dogs, abused dogs, dogs who dress like people–you name it, you’ll see it. If alien life forms are monitoring our computer usage, they are likely to be surprised when they arrive here to find that the dogs are not in charge.
I’m not a dog owner, but I like dogs, generally speaking. Dogs are loyal to their owners and seem to be good companions. They can’t talk (seriously, they can’t. If you think they can, you may have a problem), which is good. A mute companion is ideal. I like the way they understand commands and respond to their names. I like to see them do tricks, too.
My Granny had a chihuahua named Mousie. He lived to be 19. I really liked him. When I was a kid my next door neighbor had a German Shepherd named Shirley. We taught her to fetch our baseballs when they went over the fence. I had a friend with a mutt named Sparky. Sparky was good dog. So, I’m not unfamiliar with dogs.
Much like my relations with humans, there are some dogs I don’t like. I don’t like barking dogs. I don’t like vicious dogs. I don’t like dogs that bite. Out of fairness, I should note that I’ve been bitten by more humans than I have dogs, and I don’t like that, either. Like their human counterparts, drooling dogs are kind of annoying. I don’t particularly care for being licked by dogs. Okay, now, I know what you’re thinking: A dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s, by God! I don’t where that comes from, and it may well be true. But, I’ve seen dogs eat feces–and not just their own, either. Plus, except under very limited circumstances, I’ve never enjoyed having a human lick my face, either. If this ever becomes the accepted form of greeting, I’m not leaving the house.
Here’s a quick story about a dog–two in fact–that I didn’t like. I once lived behind a house where there were two dogs. A young couple owned them and clearly knew nothing about caring for them. The couple would go out of town and leave the dogs in the back yard. The dogs would bark…and bark…and bark, non-stop. At first, it made me a bit sad, but that soon passed over into anger. When the couple was home, the dogs ran in and out of their walk-out basement. They (the dogs, that is) spent most of their time digging holes. They dug around the utility transformer until they chewing through my TV cable–twice.
After the second destruction of my television reception (if you know anything about me, you know that is intolerable), I looked at the hole by the transformer. They had dug down 2 to 3 feet, chewed through the cable and were working on the electrical cable. I decided to pay Dog Boy and Dog Girl a visit to explain about the barking and the hole. They steadfastly refused to do anything about their dogs telling me that the dogs were their “children.” I kindly pointed out that if the dogs gnawed through the insulated cable, 12,000 volts would silence them. Then, Dog Girl fairly screeched at me: “We can’t make them stop barking! That would be mean! If you think you’re so smart, you get them to stop!” In true Harlan County fashion, I kindly responded: “Think about that. Do you REALLY want me to shut up those damn dogs? I will.” We had no more problems after that.
I offer that tale only so you know that I’ve had my differences with dogs. Rest assured, however, that I’ve never hurt a dog. Okay, I did hit a dog with my car once. I was driving through a neighborhood and this little lap dog ran in front of my car. People came screaming, calling me names and saying I was driving too fast. I probably was but–you know–the dog ran in front of my car. Anyway, it was an accident.
A sad, tough truth that every dog owner should know is that not everyone loves your dog. Dog owners reading this are now choking back bile, ready to attack–just like a dog. Slow down, there. If you have kids, think about this: You probably love your kids. You might even like them. Not everyone feels the same way about them, though. Some people don’t like your kids and almost no one else loves them. That’s just how it is.
Why wouldn’t someone like a dog? Well, I don’t know all the reasons. Maybe they don’t like animals. That doesn’t necessarily make one a serial killer, although it doesn’t eliminate one from suspicion either. What if they don’t like “dog smell?” Dogs do have a smell, you know. It’s okay with some folks, but not with others. Before you scream: MY DOG DOESN’T SMELL!!” consider that I didn’t say they smell bad. My Granny’s house smelled like snuff and mothballs. I’m sure she didn’t notice, but I did.Some people are scared of dogs. That’s true. They are. I’m not saying that’s right or can’t be overcome, but it’s a fact. So, if someone doesn’t like your dog, they may have legitimate reasons, just like if they don’t like your kids.
Most dog lovers consider dogs to be vastly superior to humans. Maybe they are. They love the dogs, and the dogs love them. The dogs won’t stopping loving them, either. They won’t get bored with the relationship or go find new, younger masters. Of course, one could point out that these are just the traits of any pack animal, but that would be unkind plus it would fall on deaf ears anyway.
Although they may be superior creatures, dogs are not people. They’re dogs, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Even though dogs are dogs, they share certain characteristics with humans. There are good humans and bad humans, just like good dogs and bad dogs. Both are products of their environment or maybe their breeding. Some humans are vicious and attack without provocation. Some dogs do, too. If dogs had opposable thumbs (or thumbs, at all), they’d use guns and knives, I’m sure. The big difference is that we don’t blame dogs for their actions like we do humans. A bad dog is caused by bad humans. Bad humans are just bad.
I have a rule I try to follow at all times: Don’t surround myself with creatures willingly and able to kill me. That applies to both humans and dogs. I’m told that Rottweilers, for instance, make great pets. I’ve known folks that had them as pets. A Rottweiler could easily kill me, and there’s nothing I could do to stop it. Not a good pet for me. All he’d have to do is want to kill me, and I’m a goner. A Maltese, on the other hand, couldn’t take me out regardless of its bad intentions. I’d beat his ass.
Same thing with humans. Some people are dangerous. I don’t like being around them. They could easily kill me on a whim. I do my best to stay in the company of only those people unwillingly or unable to do me harm. Admittedly, it’s much tougher to tell with humans.
I briefly touched on the topic of dog smell above. Of course, humans smell, too. Some good, some bad. If a human is really funky, you don’t want that person around. Maybe his or her family is okay with it, but you’re not. Same with the dogs. I don’t like touching smelly people, and I certainly don’t want them touching me. Same with dogs. I’ll pet just about any dog, but if you ever see me pet one, notice something. I’ll quickly sneak a whiff of my hand. Of course, I do the same thing after shaking hands with a human.
Dogs and human babies bring out the best in people. The roughest, toughest people will often melt at the sight of a dog or baby. People will smile at them, talk to them, touch them. They’ll baby-talk to them. Dogs and babies are the keys to peace on Earth. When I was kid, the principal of my elementary school, Nick Brewer, was the most fearsome person I knew. He terrified our entire school. Once, I went to his house. When he walked in the door, a gigantic Saint Bernard came running to him and jumped up on Mr. Brewer, licking and drooling all over him. Mr. Brewer hugged him and said: “Daddy is home! Yes, he is! Daddy wuvs his baby boy, yes he does!” Mr. Brewer never scared me after that.
Of course, dogs aren’t perfect. Let’s say you live alone–except for your dog. You’re happy together. Like most dog owners, you fully expect to outlive your dog, but you don’t think about that. One night, while sleeping, you die quite expectedly. Being a bit of a recluse, no one checks up on you. Your dog wonders why you won’t get out of bed and take him for a walk. After awhile, he says “Oh, what the Hell!” and does his business inside. He’s still got some food and water. Eventually, the water runs out, but he remembers the toilet and partakes. Pretty good.
After a couple of days, he’s out of food and pretty hungry. He’s given up on you getting out of bed but decides to lick your hand a couple of more times to see if you’ll rouse. Nope. Hey….that hand is pretty tasty. Yep, he eats you. This won’t bother a true dog lover, of course. He or she would relish being eaten by their dog, so that they and the dog could become one.
Now, let’s say the same thing happens, except your companion is a human. After a few seconds to figure out that you’re dead, he or she calls 911 (there’s that thumb thing again). Of course, there are the rare occasions when your human companion may eat your corpse, too, but we’ll leave that for another blog post.
In some cultures, humans turn the tables and actually eat dogs. This is unthinkable in our society, but it happens. Let’s be glad that we have plenty of other sources of protein. Honestly, I would expect us to resort to cannibalism before we even get to dogs.
Finally, you dog lovers, be patient with those who aren’t or are just dog likers. If we don’t want your dog jumping on us and licking all over us, imagine if one of my teenage sons treated you like that. Oh, you might like it at first, but it would quickly grow old. If we don’t comment on all your dog photos and posts, it doesn’t mean we don’t like them. Now, go to bed and cuddle up with your dog.
One more thing, I guess dogs had it bad at one time, what with sayings like “talked to like a dog”, “treated like a dog”, etc. No more. We should all aspire to a dog’s life.