Gone to the Dogs

by gillis

A few years ago, shortly after our daughter was born, we noticed that people were bringing young children to places where planning for the presence of young children seemed to be lacking. Picture elegant and expensive restaurants, movies with sexual and violent scenes and themes, and late evening parties without activities or food intended for children. Although we had joined the ranks of parents ourselves, we were not fans of this trend for several reasons. We wanted to enjoy our “date nights” without children present. And we had paid someone a considerable amount to keep our children alive in our absence while these freeloaders expected the rest of us to be the village that kept their kids alive while they enjoyed themselves out in public. Nope. Not right I say.

Fast forward a few years and I find myself revisiting the same, petty complaints (See? I am self-aware. I know I’m small minded. You want a generous heart and expanded mind? You should visit a different blog because I don’t see myself evolving much…) only this time I find that instead of adorable/hateful children showing up at inappropriate places and times, people are now inexplicably bringing their dogs to each and every social event that occurs.  While I haven’t yet seen dogs in theaters, I have seen them in restaurants and at parties and I find the trend troubling.

We were at a lovely anniversary party this weekend, sitting under a tent, listening to a four piece band play while we ate catered, delicious food and feted the couple of the hour. In the background no fewer than five dogs frolicked, barked, growled, and fought. The owners of the property had kenneled their own dog for this party, but several guests, who inexplicably could not be separated from their canine friends for the duration of the party, brought their dogs. Watching guests throw frisbees to the dogs and having the dogs retrieve them may have entertained the few who were indulging in this activity, but I found it distracting. Much as I tried, I could not ignore the sound of dogs fighting while one of my favorites standards, “Come Fly With Me,” was playing, and believe me, I tried.  When no one stepped in to remove the most spirited dog (Bella – of course – because Bella is the naming equivalent of wearing black for female dogs) from the food table, I found myself pushing her down forcefully from the platter of pulled pork. The dog’s human caretaker chuckled when I brought her out of the tent and toward what was quickly turning from a dance floor into a dog park to let him know that she had been eating the ($15.00/lb.) pork dish, rendering it useless for the other human guests. He scratched her behind the ear and admonished her in a sing-song voice that she would be getting a “tummy ache” from all that fat. I really hoped the man would get a very very big tummy ache for bringing his dog to the party, then ignoring her needs in the false assumption that the rest of the guests were as enthralled with Bella as he was. Wrong, wrong, wrongity wrong wrong.

My family doesn’t currently include a dog, although we intend to adopt a dog into our family once our youngest child is toilet-trained because I can’t handle wrapping and tossing refuse from more than one living being at a time. I grew up with dogs, I think dogs are wonderful pets, and my own childhood dog Peppy (a misnomer if there ever was one as she was the canine equivalent of a Deadhead who would pad around the block languidly, nodding her shaggy head in greeting to one and all), was one of my best friends and closest confidants. The difference I see with the current fetish of dog worship is that I have never confused a dog with a person and therefore have never thought to treat them as I would a person. Their needs are different. This doesn’t mean “lesser,” it means different. They don’t require an invitation to every social event. Nor do they need their human family members to dress them up or have medical procedures performed on them to prolong their lives well past the expiration of the tail-wag meter. It wasn’t Bella’s fault that she had poor table manners. Bella shouldn’t be eating from a table. Nor should Bella be expected to stand idly by and watch lots of people eating barbecued meat in front of her while she tries to conjure up the memory of her last bowl of adult-digestive-tract, high-fiber, organic kibble. It ain’t right.