All Right, I Admit It: I Don’t Like Dogs

I am feeling distinctly at a disadvantage these days.  For the second time in a row, I’ve met a new neighbor who’s introduced himself, then gone on to introduce me to his dogs.  Oh, please.  I can barely recall human beings’ names, much less animals’.  This is too much to ask.

I realize I’m probably just feeling defensive, though.  Our kids have fled the nest, so I can’t introduce them to anybody.  We only have a cat, Lefty, who never accompanies me anywhere.  No snappy introductions there (although our new vet, who makes house calls, decided he liked our cat when I told him the Lefty’s name reflected his feline politics when he went to the polling place vote).

Slowly, painfully, I’m making my way to a confession: I really don’t like dogs that much.

There.  Oh, God.  Now I’ve said it.  There’s nothing less American, less humane, less sympathetic than admitting you don’t particularly like Man’s Best Friend.  It marks you forever as someone who can’t appreciate unconditional love and loyalty, who didn’t worship Old Yeller, who objects to having her crotch sniffed and her leg humped.

What’s the rule I always hear?  Dogs and kids can tell if someone’s a good person; they can sniff out the loser, the infidel, the secretly snide and cruel, in a nanosecond.  They’re a character test that I’m sure I’ll always fail — even though I do retain a fondness for small children who belong to other people and aren’t sitting next to me in a high-priced restaurant screaming their lungs out and slinging their forks and knives in my direction.

But, dogs?  They’re fine, at a distance, when they’re not jumping up and licking me.  “Oh, don’t mind him!  He never bites!” the ever-cheerful dogowners always say when their big, snarling cur comes rushing up to me at a park.  (Oh, really?  That’s what every news article I’ve ever read about a marauding pit bull says.  “He never bit nobody before he took an arm-chunk outta Junior the other day.  But, hey!  Junior’s still got his other arm.”)

It all brings back memories of the summer my family and I spent in Costa Rica in 1993.  We lived with a family that had a pit bull named Mickey.  I walked around in High Alert mode, sure the dog was going to lunge at my kids and I’d be forced to make a Sophie’s Choice between them.  But Mickey continued along, peacefully enough, till a cat wandered into his territory in front of the house.  The next thing we knew, Mickey was strutting around the house with the cat’s lifeless, bloody carcass hanging from his enormous jaws.  it wasn’t the kind of occasion that encouraged trust or peace of mind.

But, I know, I know.  Most dogs aren’t pit bulls and they don’t kill or maim.  Big deal.  I can still do without them.  A few days ago, our new neighbor’s yappy little furballs came bounding onto our yard — onto our property, for God’s sake — barking at our cat.  I could hear our neighbor calling out to them in her similarly high-pitched voice, which never seems to do any good.  She thinks her creatures are so adorable, it never occurs to her they might get on others’ nerves.

Since I was watering the flowers in our front yard, I turned around to greet the yipping little invaders.  The blast of cold water in their faces sent them right back home.  I’m sure I’ll be punished someday for this nefarious act — by a Higher Power that cleverly disguises His leanings by spelling DOG backwards — but I didn’t care.  I loved the way they hightailed it back to their side of the street.

(Copyright 2008 by Ruth Pennebaker)

107 comments… add one
  • Laura

    I get the feeling that my “venting” comment was interpreted earlier as being borne out of the need to communicate, and I must say that it’s true (and seems to be for many other non-dog lovers). It’s much easier for me to vent online about the dog than be interpreted by my friends and family as a “cold, heartless person,” being a cat-lover in a sea of dog-lovers.

    I love animals and think that they deserve loving homes. However, I don’t feel the need to treat an animal as a human. My husband doesn’t lick my face. He also doesn’t pee on my clothes when I’m not home! 😛

    I feel your pain, Enilea, to an extent, except that beyond a once-daily walk before hubby gets home, the dog is his business. He feeds it, cleans up after it, and does everything for it. After his latest peeing incident, I simply avoid the dog. I know it’s not his fault for not being able to “hold it” that long, but I feel no need to be affectionate toward it, either. As soon as it gets warm enough, he is in a fenced yard with an electric fence (because he digs).

    My husband made a poorly-informed decision in getting a high-maintenance dog, and until he figures the dog would have more attention elsewhere, he can have the extra work. I’ll have cuddle-time with my kitty–whom I don’t expect my husband to care for, either!

  • Ryan Leemon

    Well, first you say you talk about the name situation. You place humans first, then animals second. People who like/love dogs love them because they usually don’t place themselves over animals because they understand that humans are creatures on our Earth juts as any other living organism. Second, it seems like you don’t like them because they are rough, while you prefer a cat because of the calmness. The situation where you saw it take the cat in its mouth and blood was everywhere was something that was gruesome, something rough or gruesome. But you have to understand, the dog took the cat for whatever reason, survival or because it’s just prey and that it could. It may seem gruesome, but humans do the same. We just don’t like to accept it up front. All the animals you eat on your plate at home (unless you buy from privately owned farms which usually only occur in non-urban areas) are animals that were brutally killed and thrown on assembly line where all sorts of chemicals and preservatives were put in them (not trying to go into any details and I’m not trying to imply that I know what goes on exactly behind the closed doors of America’s meat production). The food we consume is much more brutally killed than what you saw with the dog and the cat. You just gotta think about that. Humans are the farthest organism from being innocent when it comes the ways we live. Anyway, the only way you can begin to like a dog is to not look down upon it as if it’s a lower creature., whether it’s the roughness they have and all their energy or whatever. It may sound cheesy, but you have to learn to accept them into your heart. Cats are awesome, but dogs have many things a cat cannot, just as cats have many things dogs do not have. At least you like cats, they are people that do not like cats and dogs. They truly have a problem, and it’s a sad thing for them.

  • Pauline

    Dear Ryan,
    Nice proselytising.
    At the risk of you continuing, do you think you could explain what you mean by insulting people who do not like cats and dogs, and what sort of problem you perceive them to have.

  • Ryan Leemon

    Nice vocab! Anyway, don’t know what you mean by continuing, since I typed that comment and finished it by pressing submit, which is how you saw it, believe or not. So, there’s nothing to continue. I didn’t insult people that don’t like cats or dogs. I said that’s a sad thing for them, a sad situation. As it seems that you completely failed to actually read what I wrote, I guess I have to repeat some of it myself. People that hate cats or dogs usually seem to have a problem with them because they place themselves above cats or dogs, as if humans are the better being. They don’t like cats or dogs because of pathetic reasons, such as they play rough or whatever reason, which is usually (in most cases) because they indulge in hypocrisy, though they definitely don’t know. If you still don’t understand,feel free to contact me and we can talk this over. Again, I’m not insulting, I’m pointing a situational thing, a problem. It’s only common sense from what I know.

  • Pauline

    Dear Ryan,
    I like cats. I don’t like dogs. I think they are animals and not people. I put humans above animals every time. According to you , that means I have a problem, and I am a sad person, and I have no common sense, and I am pathetic, and I am a hypocrite, but too stupid to know why. Yeah, that isn’t insulting at all.

  • Ryan

    Good job Pauline. You answered your own question! What you find insulting depends entirely on you. If I were you though, I’d see it as constructive criticism and realize my faults. Believe it or not, I don’t care what world you’re ever in, you’re an animal too. You’re no better, only worse, than the rest of the animals on this planet.

    Good day,

  • ruthpennebaker

    OK, after this latest imbroglio — and 105 comments — I’ve decided it’s time to stop the dog/cat/animal commentary, since that’s not the focus of this blog. I wish you well in finding another forum.

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