Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Roll Over, Rover!

Dogs are not people. They simply are not. They walk on four paws and their forepaws are paws, not hands. They roll in dead things and sniff the genitals of other dogs. These are not, for the most part, human attributes. Dogs are not people. Get over it.
Maybe some people don't understand. I am here to help. I want to help. I want to help the woman who came in from a wet, slushy Toronto winter's day to sit in a coffee shop with her wet, slushy mutt. The coffee shop in question is of the sort that is set up in malls and concourses throughout the city. Some of the small, round café tables spill out into the common promenade allowing patrons to bask in the fluorescent light as a warm and steady breeze of mechanically circulated air caresses their pallid cheeks. The woman and her dog sat at one of these tables, just beyond the door of the coffee shop proper.
In addition to her animal companion, the dog lady was also accompanied by a companion of the two-legged variety. He joined her shortly and they relaxed to enjoy their decaf low-fat mocha lattés or whatever it is their type likes to drink to impress others. Fido, on the other hand, demonstrated greater sense than either of the human two-thirds of their little group and began to explain that this was not, perhaps, an ideal arrangement for an animal. Unfortunately for those of who took German instead of Canine in grade 10, it sounded a lot like, "ARROUPP! YEE! YIH! ROWRRRRUH! OWP! OWP! Naturally, the two custodians of the charming beast leaped to their feet and took the pooch out to the street and - no, wait - that's not what happened...
They joined forces in scratching at the pup's sodden fur and speaking to it in what I can only describe as baby talk. "Uh-goo-goo-goo! Who's a good boy? Yes you are! Yes you are! Yeshiyeshiyeshiyesh....." Ugh. This was effective for about thirty seconds before the dog picked up the second verse of his plaintiff song. I left for work without confronting the pair. The older I get, the more I realise that some kinds of ignorance run so deep that all of the argument in the world will never get to the root.
These people, these dog people, take their miserable mongrel charges with them everywhere they go. What is the deficiency in their life that compels them to make an accessory of their pet? Just the other day I saw a man walk into a bank with his dog. I will say again: a bank. Not a guide dog. Just a regular kind of short-hair Labrador. Wearing booties.
Now maybe, just maybe, if you were taking Sparky for a nice, healthy stroll through the slush and crush of the downtown city sidewalks and suddenly remembered that there was a critical bit of banking that absolutely, positively had to be taken care of before the end of the business day you might be forgiven for dashing in with your dog. "No time to get you home, boy," you might say and upon finding no appropriate fixture to which you might tie your furry friend outside the bank, you might slink sheepishly through the doors making all apologies with your eyes if not with words. You might. But I don't believe that was his story. No, I rather think that his story was dramatically less, well, dramatic. More along the lines of, "I need to go to the bank. I think I will take my dog." Followed by the mental equivalent of, "Tum-tee-tum, tra-la-la." No thought given to respect and consideration for other humans. Dogs make some people uncomfortable. Dog owners like to counter with, "Well, he isn't bothering anybody." Oh, but he is. And now, so are you. These are the same people that like to say, "My dog has never bitten anybody." Of course not. No dog ever bites anybody until the first time.
I am in and around the Holt Renfrew Centre nearly every day. Holt Renfrew fancies itself an "upscale" shopping destination, meaning less attractive clothing at higher prices than most places. I see many shoppers wandering about with their dogs. Some in booties, some in sweaters and some being carried in special designer bags with just their heads and paws peeking out. Some owners even coordinate their outfit to match or complement the dog. It really makes me question the concept of social Darwinism when people with the financial means to toss away money on over-priced designer label goods haven't the mental acumen to recognise the absurdity of their behaviour.
Dogs are not people. They simply are not. No matter how much you wish it were otherwise, it is not. It never will be. Call your dog your baby. Get a few and call them your children. Buy it gifts and let it eat at your table. Let him eat right off your plate and your Prince is still a dog. Even if you swap "doggy kisses", no matter. If you believe in a literal afterlife, you will never see your dog there. Dogs don't have souls. I am pretty sure most churches will agree with that. Maybe not some of those freaky southern snake-handling churches, but ask nearly any priest, pastor, rabbi or imam and they will tell you, "Sorry, Timmy, but all dogs do not go to Heaven. Not even the very good ones."
"Why do you care?" the dog people howl. "It's none of your business. We are not hurting anybody. If it makes us happy, who are you to interfere with that?" Well, it's like I said before. I want to help. Consider charitable organizations. Charities that help the disabled, the homeless, children. Charities that make a real difference in the quality of life for people in our community. These charities struggle mightily to secure the funds needed to carry out their good works, but let a newspaper run one story about some poor pooch, abandoned or abused and the dog people draw open those purse strings and the contributions pour in.
How is it hurting? When you devote so much time and concern to the health and welfare of animals at the expense of the wellbeing of your fellow humans, you are failing to meet your obligation to society. Dogs are not people. People are people.