by Jennifer Ryan
The trend in treating dogs like people has reached epic proportions. I can’t log into Facebook without seeing a friend’s post about his or her “fur babies.” What you do in the privacy of your own home is your business. You reserve the right to dress yourself and your dog in matching sweaters, and I reserve the right to think you’ve lost your grip on reality. I’m kidding. Take a peak at my computer, and you’ll find a picture of my humiliated dog in a Darth Vader’s costume on Halloween circa ten years ago. I get it. I really do. The need to nurture can be strong for some people. In the absence of kids or grandkids, a dog can make an excellent object of one’s affection. Sometimes, however, people cross the line that exists between lovable quirkiness and grand delusion.
Most retail stores have a policy that reads something like this: No pets allowed, except service animals. I’m not talking about Petsmart or Petco. They welcome dogs. I’m talking about brick-and-mortar retail stores like WalMart, Target, Best Buy, etc. I’ve noticed, with increasing frequency, people walking into retail stores with their dogs. I don’t know why. Maybe the dogs-as-people trend isn’t the only factor in this equation. Maybe the other factor is a narcissistic disregard for rules and social etiquette. I often picture the people in this second group driving ten miles per hour under the speed limit in the fast lane. This world is their world, and the rest of us are simply guests here. Maybe both of these factors are the two halves in a crazy sandwich. I don’t know.
About a month ago, I was at a popular retailer picking up odds and ends. I heard the familiar yip of a small dog. Sure enough, a woman was pushing a grocery basket, and she had a Yorkie in her purse. A Yorkie. In her purse. Did I miss an episode of Dateline? Is there some new wave of Yorkie seeing eye dogs? I don’t think so. Even if there were, the Yorkie wasn’t much help because it was in her purse. Here’s the thing. There’s always a thing. When I run errands, I bring my kid with me because I HAVE to bring my kid with me. He’s three years old, and leaving him at home alone is considered bad form. Why do people feel the need to run errands with their dogs? You can leave your dog at home. It’s a dog. If you need to bring your dog with you while you’re shopping for a little black dress because you need your dog’s opinion, don’t buy the dress. Save the money you would have spent on the dress, and invest it in a psychiatrist. You need one.
Fast forward. My husband, MC, took A-bug with him on his weekly pilgrimage to Lowe’s. I don’t know why he needed to go to Lowe’s. MC doesn’t need a reason to go to Lowe’s. Some husbands battle gambling addiction, porn addiction, bad debt. My husband is aroused by the Dewalt section of a home improvement store, and I’ve made peace with this side of his personality. When MC tells me that he’s going to Lowe’s, I now respond, “Go and God speed babe.” I don’t ask questions anymore. So, MC was at Lowe’s surveying some tool, when he watched a strange man march into the aisle. The man had a leash in each hand, and two large golden retrievers were attached to each leash. A few seconds later, MC noticed a foul odor. The strange man and the dogs were gone, but one of the dogs had left a present. A steaming pile of dog shit. MC was so mad that he looked for the man in other aisles, but he was long gone. Eventually, a Lowe’s employee appeared to clean the mess, and this Lowe’s employee was livid…as he SHOULD be. He wasn’t hired to clean up dog shit.
I don’t care if you think your dog is a kid. It isn’t. Sure, my kid can be messy. When my son picks his nose, he at least has the common decency to eat his findings. He doesn’t wipe snot on a product in a grocery store. When he poops his pants, I immediately take him to the bathroom to change his diaper. I even place the dirty diaper in a plastic bag, so the rest of the bathroom doesn’t smell.
Sigh…dogs are not people…people.