Warning: Rant Ahead.
But don’t worry; it has a happy ending.
What the hell is with people who are afraid of dogs?
Straight off, I’m going to make allowances for people who had a genuinely terrifying experience as a child. Sort of. Mostly, I’m mad at the adults in your young life. See, Little Bitty Me almost lost her left eye to a Dalmatian
But it was neither the first nor the last dog I ever met in my life and nobody around me acted like the Cujo routine was just a normal dog thing. In fact, they all sort of lost their collective shit and behaved so childishly that I tend to under react to bites as an adult. Which isn’t my point anyway, so I don’t know why you asked. My actual point, if you can hold your questions until the end, is that I’ve been trying to get to Audrey’s birthday party this weekend but it’s back in Wisconsin and that means I need someone to watch the dogs. And probably the cats too, but really it’s the dogs who get into trouble if they’re not let out every few hours and watched closely. I can generally leave the cats in charge of themselves and trust that I’ll still come back to two cats.*
Enter our dilemma: almost everyone we’ve met here either doesn’t like dogs—
Hold. The. Fucking. Phone. Doesn’t like dogs? What’s not to like? I mean… what? Yeah, sure, I’ve heard some people say things like,
- “I don’t like it when they jump on me!”
- “I just don’t like that they bark all the time.”
- “You know, if I wanted something to hump my leg…”
and it leaves me wondering… so many things about the human who allows that behavior. Also, do these people generalize about everything the way they do about dogs? Do they hate all plants because they got poison ivy once and think all plants will make them itchy?
You know what? This post will run on forever if I allow myself to become distracted in defense of dogs. Suffice it to say, I’ve never heard a reason given by a person who dislikes dogs that doesn’t boil down to, “I’ve met dogs owned by people who didn’t bother to train theirs, and was not a fan of the behaviors exhibited by those animals.”** And yes, people are absolutely allowed to not like things with or without an “approved” reason, but I will also judge you in part based on the things you like and don’t like because I don’t have hidden cameras (the actual best way to discern someone’s character) and am forced to make do.
Let’s get back to the other issue. Because the people we’ve met (so far) who aren’t dog haters? They’re afraid of dogs.
Thus we circle back to my thing about whether or not you had a traumatic experience as a child—because if that’s your backstory, I’m super-pissed at the adults who handled it badly. They should have helped you through your fear, emphasizing that that was a Bad Dog and that he (or she) was not an authorized representative of the species.
But when I say to these people, “Oh, I’m so sorry that happened to you!” or, “Oh, did you have a bad experience?” most of them are telling me they did not have a traumatic dog encounter.
Let’s dwell on this for a moment. Really let it sink in: they didn’t have a traumatic encounter with a dog that frightened them, they’ve “just always been afraid of dogs.” One woman went so far as to tell me it “runs in her family.” Like it’s genetic or something.
I’m baffled. Because absent a frightening experience at an impressionable age, dogs aren’t inherently scary.
FACT: I am afraid of spiders. This is a legitimate fear; they want to jump in my eye and bite my eyeball and tangle their gross legs in my eyelashes. This is their stated mission and the thing they most often attempt to do if I don’t murder them on sight. But here’s the thing: if I bring a spider into your home and you just leave it alone, it will string a web you’re guaranteed to walk through, face first, in the dark. Because spiders are assholes. Then it will lay billions of eggs and fill your house with baby spiders who will all do the same thing because that’s what they do.
If I bring my dogs to your house and you leave them alone? They’ll sniff around for a bit, checking to see if you’ve left some kibbles or maybe an unattended steak laying around on the floor. Then they’ll floomp down on the nearest soft surface and lick their butts for twenty minutes straight. Because that’s what dogs do.
FACT: My best friend, Alexis, has three kids. Three.*** As in, “Holy fuck, you’ve got three kids?!” She and I were discussing my struggle, and…
ME: I just… I should be able to go, you know? I feel ridiculous saying this, but it isn’t fair! I feel trapped; for the first time in… ever, actually. I actually feel trapped.
ALEXIS: I know. But… you have a lot of pets.
ME: No. No. You have three kids. You should be trapped in the house.
ME: But if you want to go somewhere, all you have to do is post on facebook. “Hey Local Friends! We reeeeeeally need to get out and go to The Thing. Can someone please help us by watching the kids? We’ll totally return the favor!”
ALEXIS: That’s… I mean, it doesn’t always—
ME: And someone will step up. Because, for example, if I don’t step up and say, “Fine, I’ll watch your kids,” I’m the selfish asshole.
ALEXIS: (sighs) Yeah. Kind of, but—
ME: And kids are a big ask.
ALEXIS: Yes. This is true.
ME: I mean, you have to really watch kids.
ALEXIS: Yes, you do.
ME: You can’t just fill their bowl and then go binge Netflix and wait for them to join you.
ME: You have to keep them away from the knives so they don’t try to stab their eye out. You have to make sure they don’t drink Drano.
ALEXIS: (giggles) Yup.
ME: My dogs have no interest in stabbing their eyes out, and they’re too smart to drink Drano. It’s just you, sitting there, eating my food and sitting on my couch while they lick their butts for twenty minutes. Which you don’t have to watch if you don’t want to because they’re also totally fine being left home alone!
ALEXIS: (sighs, perhaps wistfully) Yeah, you can’t really do that with kids.
ME: Right? But because it’s dogs, people are all, “You know, you might have to send them to a kennel.” ALEXIS: (sighs) You’re right. I don’t know. I would watch them, if we were closer.
ME: (calmer now) Aww, honey. I know you—OMIGOD!
ME: I just got a text.
ME: Saul is a maybe!
ALEXIS: Who’s Saul?
ME: I have no idea, but he’s my new favorite person!
ME: Husband says Saul has to ask his wife but he wants to watch the dogs!
See? I told you there was a happy ending.
Husband was going around work, asking basically everyone he bumped into if they wouldn’t like to hang out with our awesome dogs (or at least visit them a couple of times) over the two days we’d be gone. He was getting some mixed reactions (a blend of “no,” and “hell no!” really) when Saul overheard him asking someone and said, if I may paraphrase, “You’re loaning out doggies? I would like to borrow doggies! Please let me be the person who borrows your doggies—just let me clear the timing with my wife.”
So, is there a moral here?
Fuck if I know. I don’t even remember how we got here, to be honest.
Let’s retrace our steps, shall we?
- If you’re afraid of dogs, please work through that shit because dogs are awesome and you’re missing out. Unless you have a fear of seeing something lick its own butt; in which case, maybe just don’t look?
- If you don’t like dogs, please consider that your actual dislike is of behaviors exhibited by dogs owned by assholes and start rephrasing your opinion. Because you sound weird to the rest of us, who are like, “Um, is it the fact that they lick their own butt? Because you can just not watch while they do that.”
- Kids are way more fucking work than pets, hands down. And I’m not sure the ROI is there. Plus, you have to help them wipe their butts when they’re little, because they’re not as flexible as dogs. So that’s something to consider when you’re bitching about the price of birth control.
- If you are a person who receives a request to look in on your friend’s pets, please consider doing it. It’s waaaay less work than taking care of their kid (see point 3) or their plant (see anything I’ve written on the subject) and the ROI is fucking awesome because couch cuddles are a thing. Unless they have fish. Do not offer a fish couch cuddles. Fish should stay in their tank all the time.
- I’ve mentioned the fact that dogs lick their own butts like five times now. It’s getting weird.
*Full disclosure: the stupid one still gets confused and shits on the floor outside her litter box, but I don’t know a cure for that. She’s afraid of it.
** Exception: allergic people. Y’all have my sympathies. Especially since you’re probably llergic to cats as well, and must make do with house plants and box turtles. Although my friend has a pair of box turtles and they seem really cool. She built them a home in the garden for the nice months, bought them a fridge for hibernating, and they basically live an awesome life. I think they have their own Instagram, but you’d have to go look it up because I might be wrong I am too lazy to fact-check. Of course, if they do have an Instagram, now she’s going to know I don’t follow her turtles. Thanks.
*** No, I can’t explain it.