Friday, January 18, 2013

My Pet Peeve

My love of dogs is legendary among those who know me best.  I have no love for them.  I have maintained for years that animals belong in their natural habitats, the jungles or the forests, not living a life of servitude in our 2000 square foot suburban prisons.  I believe that is a very humane point of view.  What animal wouldn’t prefer freedom?  It’s the American way.

Let me be clear.  It’s not that I don’t like dogs.  OK, I guess I don’t.  Don’t judge me.  I’m sure your dog is the exception.  I’m sure I would like your dog.

I tolerate the occasional visit with a dog, as long as it’s not inside my house.  Some can be rather pleasant in moderation.  The dogs I can usually tolerate do not bark, do not smell and do not sexually assault my leg without first buying me a drink.  I prefer that they do not make eye contact with me too.  It creeps me out.  

For the record, I was never bitten by a dog, attacked by a dog, or otherwise scarred as far as I know.  (Yes, Greg, I remember that one time when Judy Derzinski’s little white dog chased me into my car, but it was dark, he was a loud barker, and I was in a disoriented state).  It is merely a case of personal preference.  Dogs are unpredictable.  Dogs are hard work.  Dogs can be inconvenient.  Dogs can be expensive.  Dogs cannot carry on much of a conversation, unless your name is Berkowitz.  My cold hearted cost benefit analysis keeps coming out the same.  More cost than benefit.

This hasn’t dissuaded my children from working to change my mind.  My kids are like the proverbial dog on a bone when it comes to this issue.

And this is my pet peeve.  I cannot be left alone with my life choice to be canine-free.  I am under a sustained and coordinated attack to change my mind and open my home to a four legged doggie.  My two legged little buggers will not take no for an answer. 

What began as subtle hints has grown into extended arguments.  Apparently only a dog’s hypersensitive ears could hear me saying repeatedly, “We are not getting a dog.”  They leave me notes.  They draw me pictures.  They tell me cute little doggie stories over dinner.  The more they push the deeper in I dig. 
They have even tried the salesperson’s friend, the presumptive close.  I received a phone call the other day from a nice woman who was returning our call, a call of which I was unaware had taken place.  She told me all about my application to become a foster family for little doggies in need.  In as kind a voice I could muster through my incredulity, I told her that the decision-makers in the family must not be at home and they would need to call her back.   
As a child, I went through the same predictable period of wanting a dog to have and to hold in health and in more health (someone else could handle the sickness times).  Every child, once he realizes that the stuffed bear will never speak back and the plastic action figure will never move independently, longs for a living pet, preferably one with lots of personality and no messy bodily functions to clean up or step in.  Lassie never pooped and Benji only barked at the bad people.  That’s the examples I had.  In short, I wanted Snoopy.

Snoopy took care of himself.  Sometimes he begged for his dish to be filled, but there were times when he could cook his own Thanksgiving feast.  That’s the kind of dog I wanted.  One with his own place.  One that would help me get girls.  One that would live for 50+ years and never age.  Alas, the Snoopy I wanted was a rare breed.  He was a cartoon.

My parents were smarter than me at that time (until I became a teenager).  At an early age, my mom explained to me that my father was allergic to dogs, and that’s why we could never have one.  I believed her.  She was very convincing.  This was long before I knew about Lance Armstrong and how convincing a motivated liar could be.  It was years later that the truth came out after I administered a particularly harsh Oprah Winfrey-type interrogation on my mom.  My dad was never allergic.  They just didn’t want a dog and didn’t want me to badger them about it.

Damn plan worked.  I dropped the subject and cried myself to sleep every night in my dogless bed.

I tried that allergy line with my kids but my lie was either unconvincing or they were OK with my potential sinus suffering and skin rashes.  Daddy might itch and sneeze but it would be worth it, they reason.  They still want the dog.  They still badger me.

I’ll try this one more time: We are not getting a dog.  Period.  End of story.  Give me back the remote before I drain your college funds and hack your Facebook pages.

So along with my deprived children, I will live the lonely and unfulfilled life of a non-dog owner.  I’ll never experience the unconditional love of a loyal pet dog.  I will also forego the smells, the chewed up furniture and shoes, the vet bills, the stained carpeting, the winter rain walks through the neighborhood, and my favorite – the scooping of the canine fecal matter with my hand.  I will survive as best I can.

I’m really not this heartless.  My bark is worse than my bite. Woof.

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