Perhaps I radiate an aura -- an invisible cloud of dog-friendly saintliness that only canines can sense -- or perhaps I emit a kibble-like odor, but whatever the reason, dogs have always taken to me. My first dog (cleverly named Blackie by my parents because he was black) wagged his tail like a metronome set for "The Minute Waltz" whenever he saw me but ignored the rest of my family. My second dog (cleverly named Snowy by my kids because she was white) followed me everywhere.
But my third dog (I will call her Fido K__ so she doesn't sue me for libel) despises me. She often growls at me for no apparent reason; she's bitten me twice; whenever I approach her, she runs off; on walks, she regularly pulls me face first into trees; she pees on my shoes. I have tried bribing her with treats but she will not take them out of my hand -- I have to put them in her bowl and disappear.
Worst of all, when she lies on the couch across from me in the living room, she stares at me with an expression that is clearly the doggie equivalent of stink eye.
A friend suggested a dog whisperer so I called one. Her name was Lydia Greyhound (I kid you not) and she was as thin as a whippet and graced with the curly hair of a schnoodle. The first thing she did was scowl at me because the dog food I provided for Fido K__ was not gluten-free. I promised to change brands.
Our session began. Lydia observed my dog in action for about half an hour,
then started communicating with the little mutt. "Do you watch MSNBC a lot?" she asked me. "You must because your dog doesn't like Rachel Maddow. She thinks she's too liberal and insanely obsessed with Bridgegate." I was stunned. "Wait, what?" I said. "Are you saying Fido K__ has a political party affiliation? My dog is a... Republican?" Lydia looked at me. "Actually, she's an Independent but leans libertarian," she informed me. "Maybe you should let her watch Sean Hannity sometimes. Kind of balance it out."
Idiotic as that sounded, I reluctantly assured her that I would put on Hannity for at least an hour a day and vomit secretly in the bathroom while Fido K__ absorbed fairy tales about Benghazi.
The session continued. "She senses that you're a Jungian," she told me. "Your dog strongly disagrees with Jung. She thinks Jung was an idiot." I told Lydia that I was not a Jungian, a Freudian or a Kantian. Lydia shook head. "You want your dog to love you?" she asked. "Start reading Jung. Make sure she sees you tear the book up and throw it in the fireplace."
"Schopenhauer is a problem too," my dog whisperer said. "She prefers Spinoza's general philosophy. If you want her to respond to you, I suggest you alter your basic philosophy of life. You can't expect a lousy treat to change your dog's mind about the basic purpose of life." I nodded. "Done and done," I said.
"Also, she's a strict Keynesian," Lydia continued. "You might want to address that as well."
As the session continued, I learned a lot about Fido K__. Apparently, my dog was upset that I was not more enthusiastic about French cuisine; she was angry because I had not finished "Finnegan's Wake" in college; she was a devout Lutheran and had problems with my atheistic outlook.
Over the last few months, I have radically changed my life so that Fido K__ would love me -- I've read all of James Joyce, stuffed my face with pate de foie gras and coq au vin, wildly insulted Jung, gotten aboard the Keynesian bus, converted to Lutheranism and embraced Spinoza. So far it hasn't helped but I attribute that to the fact that, try as I might, I simply cannot bear to watch Sean Hannity.