The Art of Dog
For us “average Joes,” there is something ego-caressing about being followed, doted upon, adored… Even if it is just by a dog. Let’s face it, dogs survive by sycophancy. Those “puppy eyes,” wagging tail, panting smile, eager greetings around every turn – all evolutionary traits to manipulate humans into protecting the little beasts.
Evolution has served dogs well. According to the Humane Society, there are 77.5 million owned dogs in the United States. That equates to more than 52 million dog owning households, or more than 45% of all American households.
A little more than a year ago, I laughed at a coworker who told me that she brought her dogs to the dentist. They have animal dentists? I would pass by neighborhood dog parades and watch with horror the tie-dyed poodles and owners and dogs in matching princess costumes. Are these people nuts?
Then I accidentally became a dog owner myself. While I have yet to venture to the doggie dentist (or dress up my dog – though he would look so cute!), I have spent countless hours attempting to coerce my dog into eating very expensive organic food that he hates because it is much better for him, foregone holiday plans so that I don’t have to leave my dog behind, and engaged in an ongoing battle against the dog hair that invariably covers, well, everything. I talk about him with pride more than I’d like to admit and even say thanks when people compliment his adorable physique (because I had a lot to do with that… Not quite). It’s pretty pathetic actually.
Do I feel happier? Over the long term, not really. In fact, on average, most dog owners are not happier than non-dog owners. But would I give up my dog? No way! He is a member of the family.
I like to think of this as a mutually beneficial relationship: He gives me attention, I keep him alive. But deep down I know the truth… He has me wrapped around his little paw.
Check out this great article: “Why People Love Dogs” by Jon Katz for Slate Magazine.