Notes On Not Going to the Dogs

Sometimes, things just get out of control.  It happens a little at a time, as any boiled lobster will tell you, and pretty soon you notice you’re red and cooked and people are coming at you with shellcrackers in their hands and big, hungry grins on their faces.

It started in 2008.  Well, that’s not right.  Truth is, it started when I was a little kid and wanted a puppy more than anything in the universe.  My sister and I saved our money and my parents bought a little fox terrier puppy named Bouncer.  As my sister and I fell asleep that night, with little Bouncer howling in the background, I whispered to her, “This is the happiest night of our lives.”

How to put it gently?  That childish, idealistic attitude did not last.  Bouncer was a mess.  He probably started out with a few temperamental problems genetically, but our family lived in the kind of humid, emotionally perilous household (think Tennessee Williams’ more wrenching plays) where neuroses thrived and flourished into full-blown hysteria and shrieking and long, involuntary hospital stays.

Bouncer often retreated under beds, where he would viciously bite any feet and ankles that strayed too close to him.  Much childish screaming and crying and bleeding would ensue and Mother would tell us it was our fault for provoking him.  Bouncer was simply “high-strung,” like her.  (Being high-strung was used to explain many things in our household, none of them good.)  Besides, Bouncer had become her dog, not ours.  He kept her company and understood her, she told us.

This all went on for several years and our bloody bite-gashes healed into white scars and we learned to avoid hanging around innocent-looking beds.  Then, in 1965, we moved from one West Texas town to another.  Bouncer, heavily medicated, was in the backseat with Mother and took a chunk out of her forearm.  We were already in pretty foul humors, having to move from one godforsaken hellhole to another, but this put the cherry on the shit sundae.  Mother was sobbing, Bouncer was sulking and growling dangerously, and my father almost drove off the road, since he never knew what to to do when Mother was seriously out of control.  Some new start in life.

After that, Bouncer didn’t last very long and got taken to the vet to be dispatched.  Everyone but Mother was happy about his absence; she spent much of the next two years mourning his loss.

All of which was background to a post I wrote in 2008, mentioning why I don’t like dogs.  Ideally, this would have been the end of the story, childhood trauma resolved, demons named Bouncer exorcised.  Not so fast.  I’m not too big on the concept of that dreadful, overused word “closure,” in the fist place (closure, I think, comes when you’re dead — but maybe not even then).  But the 2008 post has turned out to have a four-legged life of its own.

Check the post.  Seventy comments, at last count.  Seventy!  More than my other most highly commented posts, in which I usually wring my heart out and hang it up to dry in the hot sun.  Seventy!

First, there was a wave of don’t blame the dogs, blame the owners.  I could get into that.  Then, Angela, Becca and Heather weighed in about their similar dislike of canines (Angela’s ex-husband, who traveled a lot, left it to her to take care of a dog she never wanted).  Then Michelle weighs in to announce she doesn’t trust people who don’t like animals and she corrects Heather’s spelling.

Then, someone announces dogs are God’s greatest creation and Lane says his (or her, I don’t know) life wouldn’t be possible without a service dog named Merlot.  Milly wants her boyfriend to give up his dog, so she gets lots of advice about how her boyfriend will never forgive her for this and, on the other hand, why she should dump her boyfriend since he obviously cares more about his pooch than her.  Angela says she refuses to date anybody who has a dog.

After that, we get into K-J’s problems with the noisy Great Danes and their owner policeman, and then things get out of control.  Someone tells K-J to move, but she says nobody wants to buy a house next to three barking Great Danes.  Briel is horrified by the dog hatred and Mel can’t believe she’s lucky enough to stumble across a site devoted to people who don’t like dogs.  One commenter says someone else is “upsurd.”   One woman has to go to a workplace every morning, where she’s afraid the employer’s dogs will bite her, and Angela is dating someone she has chemistry with, but owns a dog.  It is mentioned, too, that Adolf Hitler and the KKK loved dogs.

Emotions are heating up.  Judy thinks it’s weird to sleep with dogs and Stephanie says a dog is a big responsibility and you don’t just get rid of a big responsibility.  Dump the boyfriends!  Dump the dogs!  Date your own kind!  Dogs aren’t people, so don’t act like they are!  Dogs are better than people!  Everybody should shut up!  There’s too much hatred in the world!  What did a dog ever do to you?  Dogs are better than boyfriends, so wise up!

Oh, good lord.  All I wanted to do was admit my guilty little secret about dogs.  Light a match, shed a little light — and look what you get.  A conflagration.  Bouncer lives.

(Copyright 2010 by Ruth Pennebaker)

19 comments… add one
  • People get a bit excited about some things. Dogs are one of them. I’m a cat person. Dog people don’t get that I like an animal that isn’t slavish devoted to me. I don’t get needing slavish devotion. Let the flaming begin.

  • Ellen Link

    Mydog is far from being “slavishly devoted” to me.  She loves guys – would happily stroll off with almost any man, the little strumpet.  I thoroughly dislike cats, though.  Even petting them is creepy:  fur over skeletons, ugh.

  • hahahahaha!  So much for the advice to turn our blogs into little communities where our readers can interact!

  • Ruth, I love your blog.  I also have a confession to make.  I just went back and read the post.  Then I read every one of the comments.  Now I’m scared to say anything.  Haha!
    But my big mouth always wins over, and I must speak.  People get het up, don’t they?  I love dogs, but I don’t care if other people don’t want to own one.
    Peace to all.

  • What are you? A pyromaniac? Get out the fire extinguisher …

  • Cindy A Link

    It’s odd, really, how people expect others to think the way they do.  It would be a pretty boring world if we were all dog people.  Expecting others to believe as you do — seems like that’s the essence of what’s wrong with the world. Cat people, I embrace you. But watch out for the nervous Chihuahua in my arms.

  • I think one should be kind to animals: cats, dogs, llamas, etc, not rats and mice, I guess, unless they are pets.  That said, I like some dogs and not others.  I feel the same way about people.  My grandmother used to keep poodles who slept on her bed.  When I climbed on the bed in the mornings they always growled and tried to bite me.  I did not like those poodles.  Now I have my own poodles and I like them a lot.  Fluffy nips children, but I am an old woman and so am not at risk.

  • I have a dog, Gus.  I love him.  I’d say he even loves me.  Sometimes I’m moody, so Gus has to tell me where to go.  Sometimes Gus gets moody, so I tell him where to go.  Although he hates mustard on a frankfurter, he adores sautéed onion on anything.  Above all, Gus doesn’t drink or go to political meetings, and is intolerant of mice in the house, so we continue to hang together in harmony.

  • I love dogs. And I am not too fond of them. At the same time. (sort of how I feel about my husband at times. Ut oh, I shouldn’t sign my name to that…)

  • Let me be the first to admit to having been among the commentors to your earlier post (I was number 15).   But although I then wrote with what I considered careful irony and judicious use of the subjunctive.  I now wish to come down on the doggy side.

    Just for example, my most beloved dog, a German Shepherd called Leda, never ever offered to bite or attack anyone except:

    1. Children
    2. Fat people
    3. Persons of Colour
    4. Persons Carrying Umbrellas.

    I might have mentioned these mitigating circumstances before, but the commentator who wrote just before me (one K.J.) seemed to think that your entire website was devoted to Dog Vilification, so I felt understandably shy.

  • I learned the best way to deal with comments is simply “moderate.” Otherwise you get into a free-wheeling debate that turns angry, personal and nasty. Not what I want on my blog. I have fewer comments, but they are civil and relate to what I’m writing – not personal attacks on one another. However, I understand not wishing to moderate, it takes a bit of time and censorship, but it’s MY blog (not journalism, not an open fourm).

  • ***Duchess***
    Alas, Leda was so un-PC.  How free!

  • Wow. I have a post on blenders that’s a lot like that. A few weeks ago a fight broke out and I had to bad a few people. Over blenders! Who woulda thought?
    It’s here in case you want to check it out:

  • There’s a typo in my comment – it should have said, “I had to ban a few people.” Sorry for the confusion. Badding people is much more difficult.

  • Ward Link

    Have we got a deal for you! A precious little ball of energy that will help you re-connect to your inner dog.  Her name is Mitzi and she’ll be arriving by FedEx very soon.
    You’ll thank me some day.

  • I think people love dogs or hate dogs. There isn’t much in between.

  • I have a theory that there are people people and animal people. I’m a people person but have learned the hard way that people who adore animals consider them an important — perhaps THE MOST important member of their family (and don’t understand why you’d rather not cuddle their cat — flea allergy! or endure their rambunctious dog licking lotion off your legs;)

  • Lanora Link

    Thank you, thank you for this review of your reader comments and for not over-moderating them.

    I will treasure “upsurd” and try to use it effectively as soon as I get a good chance.

  • Belinda Link

    Wow. I found your blog the day you posted your little admission because I had just searched Google for “I don’t like dogs”! I had just read a comment on Facebook by someone I like a lot, that they didn’t trust anyone who didn’t like dogs. I got to thinking, “Am I normal for not liking dogs?” Voila! Your blog. I didn’t see the comments because there weren’t any at the time. After reading your blog that day, I felt so validated and normal.After reading some of the comments, I feel even more so! I am happy I found your blog in more ways than one. Thank you. P.S. I don’t really dislike dogs, I just don’t want any or to live near any or be forced to be sniffed by or jumped on by any.

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