Not A Dog Lover, I’m ‘Coexisting’ With Two


Every once in a while, I like to write an enormously unpopular column about dogs.

I don’t have a dog; I don’t want a dog, and this seems to be the heart of the problem. People think I don’t appreciate dogs. I do. I appreciate them. But I also think of them as (shudder) animals.

And, in my mind, animals have their “place.” Their place is not in baby strollers or in the food court at the mall. Their place is not in bed with humans or hanging out of driver’s side windows. I prefer cows. You don’t see cows in the food court except in their place, in between hamburger buns (sorry).

But now I am staying with my daughter, and she has two dogs — an old dog and a new dog. The old dog has been there for her through thick and thin, helping her through nasty breakups and confusing home relocations. The new dog has been brought in because the old dog is… well, old. My daughter expects that he will no longer be able to perform his doggy duties much longer and wants him to train his replacement. (This does not bode well for me, especially if a new mom suddenly shows up on the doorstep.)

Over the years, I have come to know both dogs. They seem to like me even though I don’t take them to the mall, sleep with them or allow them to drive my car. I do take them for long walks and release them frequently into the yard because that’s what dogs like.

In return, they will lick my hand or allow me to pat them on their heads. That is the relationship we have — we’re not siblings, we are merely a woman coexisting with two dogs. When they’re good, I give them treats. When they’re bad, I feel grateful they don’t belong to me.

My daughter doesn’t have a stroller for her dogs nor take them to the mall nor let them drive, but the older one has earned the right to sleep on the bed and sit next to humans on the sofa. The vet said this special treatment would help the older one accept the younger one. I don’t think it does. I think it helps the older one put on airs.

So sometimes I rebel and invite the younger dog onto the sofa, too. This riles the old one, and the new one knows it, but she really, really wants sofa time. She tries to melt into nothingness between me and the arm of the furniture, looking up at me occasionally with adoration in her eyes and trying to ignore the huffing outrage of the older dog. But if the older dog barks, she immediately leaps down and flops on her back in front of him. (“I am your slave, oh, Great Master. I didn’t mean to upset you, but she invited me. Here, have a free sniff.”)

I do have a certain affinity for these animals because they seem to add a layer of love to my daughter’s life, and there’s no such thing as too many layers of love. I myself calm down when I pet them.

On the other hand, I know they would turn me over to terrorists in exchange for a Liva-Snap. I don’t blame them — they’re animals and they know it, even if no one else does. There will be none of this “You turned me over to terrorists?”

“Yeah. I’m an animal.”

I know.