Stop Insulting Dogs!

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I realize that most people do not intend to insult dogs when they say the following things about them, but if I were a dog, I’d find them less than complimentary.

Dogs love unconditionally

Why should a dog who is left alone for 12 hours a day, is not free to do what they enjoy, love the person who inflicts this lifestyle on them? Maybe they show enthusiasm when their owners come home, but being excited about a piece of white bread if you’re starving doesn’t mean you love the stuff. Why should a dog love someone who yells at them or hits them, or scares them repeatedly? The appeasement behaviors they display should not be mistaken for love anymore than one should assume that a stranger loves you because they took you back to their place for the night. Are dogs really such enlightened creatures that they are Zen masters of acceptance or better than Christians at turning the other cheek? Saying they are not is not the insult. Believing them to be such simpletons that they’ll love anyone, regardless of how they behave toward them is.

Dogs need to know who’s the leader

Dogs can be trained to herd sheep a quarter mile away from their handler, sniff out explosives and cancer, be trusted to negotiate a city sidewalk with someone who is blind, know when to offer support to an autistic child, learn a 5 minute freestyle dance routine, figure out how to open a cupboard to get to the trash and the best we can come up with in regard to our relationship with them is that they need to know who is ‘in charge’?

Dogs like me

I understand that when someone says this they probably mean that they like dogs and want dogs to like them and go out of their way to make that happen. Imagine walking into a room full of people and assuming that everyone in it ‘liked’ you. Some might, some can learn to, but why assume dogs lack the individuality to come to their own conclusions as to who they like and who they don’t. When potential boarding clients come to my home people often say, “My dog likes you,” but I correct them, “Your dog likes that I have cheese.” And that’s OK with me, it’s a start.

Dogs live in the moment

Are dogs’ brains so unsophisticated that they can only manage to deal with one thing, the present, at a time? Isn’t who they are in the present affected by what they experienced the past? If dogs truly only live in the moment why do they remember their name from one day to the next? Why do they get excited when they see you pick up their leash? Or run the other way when they hear the bath tub running? They may not be worrying about making next month’s rent but you can be sure they haven’t forgotten about the big dog who jumped them at the dog park.

Luckily for us dogs are not as easily offended as people are, but it’s still no excuse to be rude.