Dogs: yet another controversial issue for our times

This is from a YouTube channel entitled “I Hate Dogs”. A young man (probably in his 30s) details his encounters on dating sites with women who are fanatically devoted to their dogs. He doesn’t like dogs, and he makes his dislike abundantly clear.

The YouTuber behind the I Hate Dogs channel makes some valid points; but he also overstates his case. This video rant seems to spring from some recent, unpleasant dating experiences with women who were overly devoted to their mutts.

On the other side of the coin, here’s a video that explains the mutually beneficial aspects of the human-canine relationship, in both historical and scientific terms. 

As is the case with so many other controversial topics, I’m in the middle on this one. I enjoy the occasional interaction with a friendly dog, and I would never want to see one mistreated. At the same time, though, I have never had a desire to own a dog, and I sometimes wonder at the excesses of overly devoted dog owners. 

My grandparents (pictured below) were dog owners. My grandfather was a World War II combat veteran, who grew up on the Southern Ohio fringe of Appalachia during the Great Depression. He took it hard, though, when one of his favorite dogs, a cocker spaniel named Rusty, had to be euthanized due to an incurable and painful illness.

At the same time, however, my grandparents would never have referred to themselves as “dog parents”, as has recently become (cringingly) trendy. They were the parents of my mother, who is the little girl in the photo. More on this distinction shortly.

Human-dog interactions are undeniably beneficial, and yes, undeniably rooted in our history. But as with so much else in recent decades, a certain percentage of us have gone completely overboard. Way too much of a good thing.

Case-in-point: the situation at a public park near my house.

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The park was originally set up for human use, as parks should be. The park has a walking/running track, a playground, a soccer field, etc.  

When the park opened, it had a NO DOGS rule, indicated by signs. The local police enforced the ban for a while. Then they gave up.

 Why? Dog owners, who were presumably all fluent in basic English, ignored the signs and the ban. No matter when you went to the park, there would always be someone with a dog. The township eventually cried uncle. The local police department, which was already understaffed, had other things to do.

Now we have dog poop bag stations at regular intervals around the walking/running track, with signs encouraging dog owners to (pretty please) clean up after their pets. But I’ve found out the hard way that one should watch where one steps, nevertheless. Some dog owners don’t feel they should have to follow that rule, either. 

There are many reasons not to allow dogs in a crowded human environment like a park. Canine poop is only one of the pitfalls. 

Some dogs are friendly, but some are aggressive—especially around humans they don’t know. Parks tend to draw parents with young children, and the potential dangers to kids are obvious. Hey, for that matter, I don’t want to be attacked by someone’s rotweiller or pit bull. (Dog owners in my area are often a little lax with leashes, too.)

But hardcore dog owners sometimes have what we might call an “entitled streak”. They consider their animals to be honorary humans, and believe that you should, too…or something is simply wrong with you. 

The current obsession with dogs seems to spring from the trend in America (and other Western nations) toward having fewer children. Most of the dog fanatics I know are either a.) single, childless women, b.) married/shacking up couples who are childless, or c.) older empty-nesters who don’t have regular contact with grandchildren.

Note the use of the terms “dog-mom” and “dog dad” in recent years, and online articles like, “Six Ways Dog Moms Can Celebrate Mother’s Day!” 

These are people who want to have children around (even if they repress and deny this natural human desire). But for one reason or another, children are not in their lives. So why not transfer those nurturing instincts onto a Goldendoodle or a corgi instead?

Except that—(sorry, I have to say this)—a Goldendoodle or a corgi isn’t a human child.

Dogs have been with us since ancient times. But the extreme anthropomorphization of dogs is a relatively new phenomenon. So is pet owner terminology like “dog mom” and “dog dad”.

Dogs are fundamentally good; and the problem is not that many people like dogs. The problem is that some people try to get from dogs that which they cannot, will not—or have perhaps forgotten how to get—from their fellow humans.