27. December 2011 13:40
Your dog is not particularly cute.
Dogs can be very cute, but they are similar to people in that only about one in twenty is genuinely attractive. If others find your dog to be cute, that’s great. But it’s not a good topic of conversation.
Your dog is not particularly smart.
Most dogs are of roughly the same intelligence. They can do certain clever things but are usually blissfully ignorant of the obvious. Unless you have a trained Border collie, your dog is probably just average. Please remember the “Lake Woebegone” effect: they can’t all be good-looking and above-average.
Your dog is nice—to you.
Dogs have been bred for 70,000 years to distinguish between those who feed them and strangers. Your dog’s behavior toward you is no indication of how it will behave toward others. Only training and monitoring will make your dog a truly safe member of society.
Your dog is not a child.
If you want to carry your dog in a belly pack or a stroller and coddle it all day, that’s your prerogative. However, please refrain from recounting all the myriad ways your dog is like your child. It’s not.
If I’m in busy traffic and I see a dog in my car’s path, I will try to avoid hitting it. But I will not deliberately collide with nearby cars or risk a rear-end collision to avoid the dog; doing so might cause an injury or risk a human life. If, on the other hand, I see a child in my car’s path, I will do everything I can, including jumping lanes, to avoid her. After all, the nearby drivers and I are protected by tons of steel, seat belts and air bags. And, after all, it’s a child.
Your dog is an “it”.
Most dogs these days are neutered, and dogs, as a species, are not dimorphic. I am not interested in whether your dog used to be male or female. Please do not correct me if I get the gender wrong, since I just don’t care.
Yes, your dog’s bark is annoying.
Every dog’s behavior is a reflection of its owner. If you would not personally bark at people the way your dog does, remember that we’re all thinking it’s really you doing the barking.
Please don’t expect that others can distinguish all the marvelous nuances of your canine’s self-expression (playfulness, uncertainty, boredom, etc.) because they vary by dog and are mostly just the owner’s interpretation. Almost all barking sounds aggressive because it’s supposed to.
Dogs are wonderfully trainable. Many attack dogs are trained to approach an intruder completely silently. If a Rottweiler or Doberman can be trained that way, your dog can be trained not to bark at strangers from the back seat of a parked car.
Yes, your dog needs a leash.
Voice command is generally a myth. Given the right temptation, almost all dogs will dash off after a rabbit, another dog or just because of high spirits. If the law or common sense says use a leash, do so.
If I’m walking, running or riding my bicycle, I don’t want to have to pay laser-like attention to your dog to make sure I don’t stumble over it. And please keep your leash out of the path of others. Imagine blocking other people’s path with a long stick—it’s the same thing.
No, your dog can’t come in my house.
I really don’t care if your dog just came from the beauty parlor, I don’t let dogs in my house. That is my right. Whether or not you allow your dog into bed with you, or allow it so sit on your lap while you drive is entirely irrelevant to my decision to exclude animals from my house. I won’t take offence at your driving with a pooch in your lap if you don’t take umbrage at my decision to not clean up after your dog in my own home.
When you go to other peoples’ houses, please be prepared to keep your dog in your car during your visit or to tie it up outside.
Yes, I do like dogs
I like dogs; I always have. But like everything else in life, I appreciate the good ones and regret the bad ones. And I don’t really want to know every aspect of your dog’s importance in your life. I understand what having a dog means—it’s a roughly similar experience for everyone. Dogs are pleasant adjuncts to the lives of many people, but they are only a part of life. If you find yourself droning on incessantly about your dog, please take up knitting, computer programming, gardening, French or scuba diving. Life is short.