Americans love football, a commentator on the Michael Vick case said
today on CNN, but they love dogs even more. All Americans but me, I guess. I hate football. But I hate dogs even more.
Yes, okay, I said it. Come on, burn a big doggie biscuit
on my lawn. Stone me the way you might a baby killer or a gay basher.
I realize that coming out as a dog-hater puts me among the lowest of
Abhor kids? Reasonable. Despise men? Makes sense. But
don't you dare say a word against Fido. Let me pause right here and say that I'm not
pro-dogfighting or dog torture or any of the other hideous things Vick
is accused of and that undoubtedly go on.
On the other hand, America's dog worship has gotten way
out of hand. One of the few reliable ways to sell a book these days
is to make dogs your subject: witness Jon Katz's oeuvre, Cesar's Way,
and of course Marley & Me. There's doggie chick lit (Jacqueline
Sheehan's Lost & Found) and doggie lit lit (Mark Haddon's The Curious
Incident of the Dog at Night Time).
Will Ferrell is reportedly set to star in Carolyn
Parkhurst's Dogs of Babel, a bestselling and totally absurd tale about
a professor who tries to communicate the only witness to his wife's
death - you guessed it: his dog. Right this very minute, I'm sure
market-savvy television producer is planning an update of Mr. Ed, only
with a talking dog instead of horse.
Celebrities have fueled the dog craze by carrying their
Yorkies - or whatever other brand of small dog is in right now -
around as devotedly as they do their designer bags and iPhones and
skinny sugar-free vanilla lattes. Unlike their babies, stars never
seem to fumble or drop their dogs. Dogs seem to offer celebrities not
only unconditional love but truly enduring relationships.
It's not that everybody in the world except me loves dogs,
I think, so much that those people who do love them feel so very very
strongly about it. Dog lovers are kind of like Jesus Freaks, or yoga
masters, except their irrational yet single-minded devotion is to a
barking, biting, shedding four-legged creature.
Some of these people are even my friends - or at least
they were, before they read this piece. These friends try to persuade
me how wonderful their dogs are, yet all my experience only hardens me
against dog worship. When I visit, the dog starts yapping before I
even ring the bell, and won't stop through all attempts at
conversation. The dog lunges at me and bares its terrifying fangs.
If we stay in the house, the dog inevitably and deliberately sheds its
hair all over me, and if we go out, the dog insists on coming along,
whereupon we're forced to pick up and carry its poop with us.
Excuse me but, I'm out. And it's hard for me to find a down side to
living without a dog. My house is quiet, hair-free, and doesn't smell
funny. When I take a roast out of the oven and set it on the counter,
I'm pretty sure five minutes later it's still going to be there. In
the middle of the night, I never hear those little doggie nails click
click clicking across the wooden floor or wake up to find a black
tongue probing my nose.
I guess on Sundays when the Raiders are playing the Jets
and all your friends are busy, if you're dogless there's no one to lie
on your chest and watch the game with you.
But that's a price I'm willing to pay.