Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dog Owners, Please Explain

I do not own a dog. I do not own a dog, not because I dislike the animals, but because I like the big dogs. We live on a very small lot and in an urban neighborhood. I happen to believe it is unkind to make a big dog live in a place where she cannot run as much as her body desires. Also, many tend to dig when they are confined and I like my flowers. And there's the whole relinquishing your back yard to the dog poop issue. When we have a bigger yard, with room for the dog to run and to be potty trained to a far back corner, we will get a dog.

Having made that disclaimer, I need some help understanding a specific breed of dog owner; the one who thinks their dogs are children and equal in value to my people children. Three stories, three separate owners:

  1. Through the slats of the back yard fence, I notice the neighbor's chocolate lab rummaging around in my front flower beds. I clap my hands and say, "Coco! Get out of my flowers!" I didn't holler or screech or throw things, I just firmly asserted that big dogs are not to be tolerated digging up my flowers. She leisurely wandered off and I went back to work. I didn't think anything else about it until 10 o'clock that night. Crazy Tom had obviously been stewing about the situation the entire afternoon and evening because he was pretty hot under the collar when he informed my husband that we needed to "clear the air" after that day's incident. In no uncertain terms, Justin was told, "I do not discipline your children, please DO NOT discipline my dog!" Well, first, he does try to discipline my children and, second, COCO IS A DOG! She was on my property and was doing damage. I was not unkind to her. Was I supposed to do? Give her a lollipop and sit on the porch with my arm around her as I explain the sometimes delicate structure of the root ball she was destroying? Should I have asked that she work off the cost of the replacement plants? Maybe I should have winked and said, "Ah, shucks, she's just a kid. She can do whatever she wants."

  2. Another neighbor recently purchased her fourth animal (her lot and house are even smaller than ours). Because the cat didn't get along with the new dog, the hound is relegated to the back yard. He barks all. day. long. Now, I know that part of living in a neighborhood with close quarters requires patience with noise. I've never called Animal Control and wouldn't, unless I really thought that a person or the animal was in danger (or neglected). Even then, I'd try to talk with the dog owner first. The other day, our neighbor issued a kind-of apology for the barking by saying, "My dogs bark, your kids bark, so . . ." Huh? No, my kids do not bark. They play and laugh and sing and cry and otherwise act like children, but they are children. They are growing up and learning to be responsible citizens and kind adults. It could be argued that we should stop cramming more children into our small house, just like she should stop cramming animals into her small house. Did God tell her to buy another dog, 'cause that's how we got another child!

  3. Any time we talk about our pods, an associate starts talking about her dogs: What they did at daycare that week, how much their insurance costs, what things they are learning, funny things they said. This person had the audacity to tell my husband (father of five, homeowner, part time employee, husband and student pharmacist) that he just didn't know what it was like to be stressed. Really? Those dogs are so much work and so much rests on whether their insurance will cover their braces or if you are teaching them to be generous or responsible with their time and money. Oh, wait. Those are attributes of PEOPLE not dogs.
So, dog owners, am I way out of line? Because I just don't get it.


  1. I can understand how someone who has dogs (or any pet) but NOT children might think of their pet the way we think of our children. My parents got two dogs after my sister and were out of the house and I swear those dogs have it better than my sister and I ever did! :)

    But just because I can understand it doesn't mean I don't also think it's crazy.

    Plus I hate dogs, so there's that.

  2. oh thank you! I have long detested the person who tells "pet stories" like they are talking about a human being. I don't understand how they can think that it is the same thing.

  3. Woah- this post made me laugh hard because I have said those exact words so many times: "I just don't get it!" If dogs are really as much work as children (which I have heard people claim repeatedly!) then why not just have a child? Children are a much better return on investment- dogs can never give you grandchildren!
    I love your blog!
    Mary Fox

  4. Oh how I love love LOVE this post!! U-Dad & I often marvel (read: grouse) about people who do this. And as far as jamming them into a small space -- we live in Chicago, and there's a guy in our neighborhood who owns a Great Dane. Just seems mean. A very dear friend of mine has a Golden Retriever, but she and her husband live in a one-bedroom apt and are trying to get pregnant. (groan!) And the dogs as kids thing... ugh. My sister had a fantastic dog, real member of the family and frankly the most reliable male she'd ever met. But she never crossed the line to it being her "baby." Always loved her for that. (and still miss that dog)

  5. My mom once went to a patient's house and was asked to move out of the dog's chair. The only place left was the floor. And when people have to bring a baby playpen to the family reunion, to keep their dogs from biting the young children, um, leave them home with a dog sitter. Not a babysitter...a dog sitter people!