Monday, October 25, 2010

A Doggy Diatribe

I have loved a few dogs in my life, but lately, I've od'd on them.  Not on the dogs themselves, actually, but on the role they seem to play in people's lives, which is attention getting/intimacy avoiding.

That really cute dog who jumps around, needs to be told to sit, given a biscuit, made to lie down, let outside,  let in again...told to stop barking....what that pretty much prevents is a real conversation.  We just chat about the dog.  

Babies have a similar effect on the social life of parents of course, but babies grow up and the attention lavished on them is needed and worthy.   But people get dogs and let them rule their relational life on purpose.  

You can, of course, have a dog to cuddle with AND have good friends...just put the dog in its crate or yard or back room when friends come, or train it to curl up and sleep and not insist on being the center of attention.  


Victoria Weinstein said...

Outraged dog person here!!!

Just kidding.

I think you've been subjected to visits with undisciplined dogs, and I'm not sure it's fair to accuse people of doing this on purpose to avoid intimacy. I could say the same of friends who have children: they drop out of social life for up to 10 years (sometimes longer), they talk about their kids all the time, we can hardly ever spend time alone for 0-12 years, their kids interrupt our visits with needs, phone calls, hollering from the upstairs, bursting through the door and needing attention, etc.

Our culture of permissive parenting has influenced our culture of animal training. My dog is far more well-behaved than many children.

I would never be offended if someone said, "I would rather you came over and visited with me without Max. I find his barking/jumping/need to be let in and out to be a real impediment to our being able to have a focused and productive conversation."

Of course my dog does curl up and go to sleep, but I still wouldn't be offended. When I'm with my closest friends, I find it wonderful to be able to talk about the dog and pet and kiss him while we're hanging out. I wouldn't expect them not to cuddle and kiss their baby when we're together. My dog is my baby.

Amy said...

People absolutely do let their kids dominate their social lives for longer than necessary.

With dogs and babies, you're going to go through a stage where you can't have an adult conversation with the little one in the room. But you are supposed to get to the point where you can. I think you've nailed something about people who never train their dogs to the point where a pat or a word will quiet them, Christine. So I wonder--when we don't nudge our children along the (longer) road to similar independence, is one motivation a desire to opt out of adult interaction?

Maybe so. I know there are times when I much prefer the company of children . . .