Your Dog Is Not A Child

Every once in a while Little Miss Perfect needs to take a break from self-deprecation and spend some time (as I once heard someone say) “depreciating” others. Today’s post offers some helpful guidelines for people who treat their dogs like children. I mean, really, you crazy f-ers can do whatever you want, but please attempt to follow these guidelines, at least in public, out of consideration for the rest of us.

1. Leave your dog at home once in a while. You’re confusing dogs with small children. Let’s review: Children—don’t crate. Dogs—crate.
2. Do not dress your dog. Ever. Get rid of every sweater, cape, raincoat, bootie, holiday costume, and hair accessory. At no time should the word “hair accessory” even be in a sentence with your dog, unless you are explaining to the vet why your dog is there (e.g., “Buster ate a hair accessory and we think it’s stuck between his anal glands.”) Again, if you want to dress your dog like Little Bo Peep in the privacy of your own home, whatever, but I don’t want to know about it. A good rule of thumb is if it doesn’t have a social security number, don’t put clothes on it.
3. Do not discuss the details of your dog’s bowel movements with anyone except its co-owner and its veterinarian. Anyone. I do not want to know anything about the frequency, color, or consistency of your precious angel’s stool. I also do not want to join you in speculating what this might suggest about her diet or general health.
4. If you begin a story about your dog, you have ten seconds to finish it.  That’s it. That’s all you get. Anything amusing that your dog has done can be shared in one sentence at most—e.g., “My dog once ate my whole bottle of Ativan and slept for like five hours.” See? Done. Fifteen words, five seconds, including time for laughter. Make it original, and use imagery. If your dog gorged on a box of Froot Loops and shat rainbows, that’s awesome and I’ll laugh about it—but again, keep it within the ten-second limit.
5. Do not ask your dog to “perform” for people. Dogs have a finite range of behaviors. They include eating, chewing, panting, barking, howling, sniffing other dogs’ butts, pissing, shitting, jumping on people, humping people’s legs, licking their own genitals (usually followed by licking people’s faces), turning around in a circle fuck-knows-how-many times, digging, and fetching. This is all that dogs do. Sometimes they sit and sometimes they roll over. Unless your dog can say the goddamn Pledge of Allegiance, I am not interested in attending his performances.

Please adopt me. I look forward to fulfilling all of your misguided parenting urges.
Please adopt me. I look forward to fulfilling all of your misguided parenting urges.

This morning at the vet’s office, a woman brought her adorable Yorkie Zoey in for an appointment. “Oh, she’s so cute,” I said, because that’s what people do when they see a cute dog. (It’s a social convention.)

She replied, “I can’t let her down because”—and here’s where she lapsed into a cooing sort of baby talk—“her daddy brought her to me without her leash! Yes he did!”

Here’s where the alarm bells went off, because it’s weird to say “mommy” or “daddy” unless you’re talking to the pet itself. You can say, “Boris, go get the ball and bring it back to Mommy!” But if you start referring to yourself as “Mom” or “Dad” in public, it means you’ve created this “parent” identity. Look, our dog was our “baby” before we had our son. I get it. And I’m totally behind people adopting dogs either before or in place of having children. I just want people not to go off the rails and forget that it’s a dog.

After a discussion with another customer about how Zoey’s name is spelled Z-o-e-y (not like the customer’s best friend, because Zoey the dog is UNIQUE), Zoey’s mom proceeds to sit down with Zoey in her lap and attempt to entertain her. “Oh Zoey, look!” she says, taking a magazine from the side table and holding it down to Zoey’s level. “That looks like Amber! Zoey, look here! Look here, Zoey! Doesn’t this look like Amber? Doesn’t it?”

Whoever the fuck Amber is, I’m willing to guarantee Zoey doesn’t recognize her—unless she’s way smarter than my dog, who has to be lifted onto the bed sometimes because he can’t remember how to jump up there. He’s also tried to play with the cat several times a day for four years, been rebuffed every time, and still tries.

“He’s plucky,” my husband says.

“Honey, he’s dumb,” I say.

Anyway, then Zoey’s mom opens the jar of dog treats on the side table and gives Zoey a much-too-large treat, thus releasing the smell of rancid pig taint around the vet’s office, because that’s what dog treats smell like. Zoey licks the treat tentatively, and that’s when the receptionist says my records are ready.

Time for me to go home and perform a much-needed public service.

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