The views expressed in this column do not represent the views expressed by TSM, just by its psychotic author.
I recently went out with a man who was very tall, very successful, and very attractive. We had a great first date, and I was delighted, but not surprised to be asked on a second one soon after. Throughout the week, we engaged in some chit chat here and there, and on one occasion, he told me he’d taken his dogs out to a hiking trail for the day. Along with his text, he sent me a picture of them to show them off.
I carefully avoided comment, so as not to show I welcomed this discussion. I didn’t want to lie or mislead, but I knew it was too soon to be upfront about how I felt. Like most men do, this guy thought this move was something of a method of seduction. And as I learned pretty early on, my dirty little secret was, to most people at the very least, a flaw, and at most, a dealbreaker.
If it isn’t obvious by this point, I am not a dog person. I’d tell you why, but my reasons are irrelevant, and I find that you, the dog person, generally aren’t interested in my opinion on the matter — it only interests you to tell me that I’m wrong, “insane,” and in some dramatic cases “evil,” and “untrustworthy.”
To me, not liking dogs is as much a part of my personality, as say, not liking tomatoes. Tomatoes are everywhere. They come on every sandwich and salad, and if you don’t like them, you’re frequently having to tell servers not to include them in your order, or in some *awful* cases, you have to pick them off yourself. Good friends probably know you don’t like them, but you don’t feel like it defines you, because it doesn’t. That’s not to say you don’t, truly hate tomatoes — you do. You REALLY don’t like them — maybe because you’re allergic, or maybe you hate the smell, or you think tomatoes are dangerousor maybe you don’t need to give a damn reason. You just don’t like them. But your hatred of tomatoes isn’t all that important to you or to anyone else, except when you are directly confronted with a tomato.
In my case, the second I mention my hatred of tomatoes — err, dogs — I’m verbally accosted by friends, acquaintances and bypassers alike. I’m insulted and made to feel guilty, like there is something wrong with me for it. People either try to explain it away, assuming I must have been attacked as a child. Or maybe I have a deathly allergy? They look for something to excuse this otherwise impermissible opinion. When they can’t find it, they revert to the insults.
“What kind of monster doesn’t like dogs? What’s wrong with you?”
“Haha, I like my dog more than I like you.”
“You’re so weird.”
It’s not that I bring this up every chance I get. Like with that guy who probably won’t go on to be my boyfriend, because he wants to do dog things with me, I try to avoid it until I’m directly asked. Every time I first mention it to someone new, I try to keep it casual. “I’m not really a dog person.” I want to leave it at that. But dog people refuse to allow for it, and after they pester and prod, eventually I’ll give them what they’re looking for, even though I know they don’t want to hear it: I’m afraid, and I’m allergic, but regardless of those two things, I just think they’re gross. They’re big, and loud, and scary, and way too often, dog owners are inconsiderate and allow their dogs to misbehave, feeling no remorse at any inconvenience their pet has caused another person. In fact, they find it endearing.
Hate me yet? I know you do. I can feel your blood boiling, which is not my intention, but it’s absolutely the only impression that will last with 70% of people who read this. Of the other 30%, a few will whole-heartedly disagree but at least understand my side, and the other half — the silent 15-20% — will also not like dogs.
What bothers me more than dogs themselves, I think, is the assumption that I’m supposed to love them — the fact that I’m not allowed not to without being chastised. Dog lovers simply CAN NOT understand that someone doesn’t think the same way they do. The fact that you might POSSIBLY not think their dog is as incredible as they do didn’t even cross their mind until you told them so.
I’m not really sure why this is the way of the world. It’s perfectly acceptable to hate cats, so I’ve never seen cat owners bring their cats anywhere outside their own houses. It’s practically fashionable to hate children. So I see most parents apologize profusely for a child that disrupts a stranger. And no cat owner or parent holds the assumption that their cat or child will be not only welcomed, but beloved, anywhere it goes.
But this weird double standard exists where people who don’t like dogs are made to feel like lepers in society. So together, we lurk in the shadows until we find each other, and let out a “thank God you get it” when we meet another person who shares our views — which is quite often, I might add, but most of us are just smart enough not to be vocal about it, lest we’ll be subject to the uncomfortable conversation we’ve had time and time again.
I’m not trying to change anyone’s opinions about their animals. I understand that I’m in the minority here. I’m aware that places like parks, bars, and even some restaurants are becoming more and more dog friendly, and while I might not like that, it’s just something that I have to accept. They’re a part of our society, and I can’t undo it, and I don’t suppose to try. All I’m saying, is let me fucking live. If your dog jumps on me, consider the fact that I might not like that. Don’t invite it into my house and assume I’m going to be okay with it. Don’t show me pictures and expect me to coo, when you know I don’t care. And please, I beg you, feel at least an iota of shame when it pisses in a place it shouldn’t be pissing, or makes a mess where it shouldn’t have made a mess, or destroys a shoe it shouldn’t have been near to begin with.
Other than that, me and dogs are down to co-exist. I can sit in harmony with a dog, so long as we can keep our interactions to a minimum. It’s just you, the dog owner, that needs to get on board..