Friday, February 19, 2016
I love dogs and always have. But what happens when you discover a close friend doesn’t merely not like dogs, but actually hates them?
I’ve been operating under the assumption that those who don’t like dogs must have some evil lurking in their spirit and were destined to a life of incarceration. Just look at the statistics of criminals that abuse animals early on, and who later progress to physical abuse of people, murder, or other sociopathic behaviors.
I’ll admit not liking dogs is a far cry from turning one’s hand to injure an animal or person, but some uncomfortable association is still there. As a full-fledged dog lover or enthusiast of any animal for that matter, I cannot understand the psyche of an individual that is satisfied going about their life without animal companionship.
Any pet lover can spout off a list of benefits their furry one brings to their life…the steady comfort of companionship, a non-judging ear to hear out the day’s tribulations, a workout or hiking buddy, and a source of unconditional love at the end of a long day.
So, imagine my shock when I realized that a couple I know doesn’t like dogs. Not just that they don’t have dogs or misunderstand them- they actually dislike dogs.
A hint of this fact should have been apparent a long ago when they were over for dinner and they politely stood, stiff as Cavalry front line, when greeted by my yapping terrier mix. Or that they failed to stroke my Labrador’s chin after receiving the gentle nudge of the typical canine greeting upon entering the home. The polite perfunctory smiles went unnoticed by me. “Sure, they don’t have dogs,” I reasoned as to why they weren’t charmed by my little dog’s amusing tail-wagging display or by the steadfast devotion of my Labrador’s greeting.
All of these signposts I missed. I clearly misjudged all along. The couple who I just assumed was just not yet fortunate to understand the benefits of pet companionship, was actually formidable dog dislikers.
Realization struck me during a recent conversation, with this couple. I was laughingly describing the vast differences in dog breed behavior by comparing my former Labradors, to that of my current Bouvier. My comments must have been mistaken as some underhanded means to convince them the right breed was out there for them. At that moment, my guest raised their hands and said, “I know what I like and don’t like, and I don’t want dogs.” Clearly, they didn’t like dogs- and they misunderstood my comment as some means to turn them over to the canine side against their will. Astounded, I marveled how this response was not unlike a person who is recommended a mushroom-containing side dish or gourmet meal from a fine restaurant, and who declares “I can’t stand mushrooms and don’t want anything to do with mushrooms!”
So why didn’t I catch on to these dog haters sooner? For those of us that have pets, of any type, we recognize the many joys our pets bring to our lives. There are folks that don’t want to bring that companionship into their life. The cogs of their lives have clicked along just fine without a pet in their life. Somehow lots of well-educated, social, and seemingly normal people can raise a family and be successful and still dislike dogs.
Maybe we should feel sorry for them. Or maybe they feel sorry for us, for all the money, heart, and time we put into a pet companion whose lifespan doesn’t come near to that of humans. They probably laugh at our reckless expenditures on a being who lives just a fraction of human life. I chose not to spend time wondering how they have made it without animals in their life…rather that I have succeeded because I have been fortunate to have animals in my life.
I ask that these non-pet people save their pity for me and my pets because I know that any one of my dogs could say they lived a life fuller than most people- full of adventure, splendor at new experiences, and embracing the moment. And so have I at their side. So should the question come up at the time of my next life, I’ll take both a side of mushrooms…and pets on the side.