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Saturday, July 17, 2010

dog love

An English Setter in the water.Image via Wikipedia
Almost all my friends have dogs.

Some have one, some have two, and some have three.

My closest childhood friend has two aging lady dogs. The older one she rescued from the streets of Los Angeles when she was already at a very advanced age and infested with all kinds of exotic parasites and illnesses. Madam Mika now spends her days in diapers, dragging her hind legs from one side of the living room to the other to check her food bowl and bark at the occasional pedestrian who passes by the house. The younger one was rescued from cruel and thoughtless neighbors. This dog now spends her days barking at squirrels, sleeping and going for long walks twice a day. Both dogs are totally indifferent to me and treat me like I don't exist when I visit, except for a few lackluster barks upon my arrival. However, I did notice that they have the better sitting arrangements in the house, and that my entertainment heavily depends on their feeding and walking schedule.

Another friend of mine used to have three dogs; two tall English Setters with gigantic droopy ears and one unidentifiable black mix who was considered the smartest of the pack. When I used to come see her, the English gents would bark their heads off as soon as they heard the doorbell, and the moment the door opened, shove their long faces at me and drool their sticky saliva all over my pants. It was not fun, although my friend found it quite entertaining. One of the Setters ended up developing a terrible disease and had to be put down. It was a sad moment for my friend, but she knew it was coming and prepared herself for his departure. Surprisingly, though, the surviving Setter never seemed to miss his dog friend or look for him, probably because he has no sense of time, my friend explained. The black dog had to be put down not too long afterward. He suffered a stroke that caused him to lose his eyesight and develop frightening late night seizures. Now my friend is left with one Setter, who seems to generate very few stories, so I assume he is doing fine.

I have another girlfriend who has three yellow labs, each fatter and friendlier than the other. They also bark their heads off in excitement when I approach the door, and the moment she opens the door they happily shove their heads into my crotch and sniff me, making sure I am one of their female tribe. They push each other trying to get to me, and their wagging tails hit me so hard, I feel my legs turning black and blue under my pants. Her dogs have the best life. They sleep in her king size bed overlooking the Monterey Bay and eat the incredible food she cooks for them every single day of the year. I once told her I would have loved to be her dog, sleep in her bed, eat her food, and not suffer any consequences for bad behavior. I think her fabulous gives them bad gas, because many times after we finish enjoying a meal, a strange smell invades her living room and nearly suffocates me. I know it doesn't come from her. She is a tiny Thai woman. She would probably kill herself before letting anything like this come out of her body. However, when I bring that smell to her attention all she does is laugh and scold her labs in the most loving, nonjudgmental voice.

The last couple of days I spent with a girlfriend who has two large dogs she found at the pound: a big black one and a yellow something. She claims that the dogs bring endless love and happiness into her life. She also has a loving husband and one of the best marriages I've ever witnessed. These dogs are also the crotch sniffing kind that bark at flies and lick your face when you sleep on the couch, and drop a ball in your lap 50,000 times no matter how many times you tell them you are not going to throw it anywhere for them and "Please leave me alone." Their greetings include jumping on me and putting their paws on my shoulders!!! And each one weighs probably 90 pounds. Yet, my friend claims they bring her so much joy to and she loves them so much, and the kind of love you get from a dog is the most precious love.

I tell her I'd rather have human love before dog love.
She laughs at me.

I say, "of course your dogs love you. You feed them."
She insists that their love is unconditional.

But I want verbal love, not barks and sniffs and farts and stupid tennis balls on my lap.

She says I should get a dog if I want to feel true love.

I tell her, over my dead body.

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  1. "woof woof, lick lick, fart,waggy waggy, woofy woofa".
    That was Noki's response

  2. woof woof woof - Jasmine, Jackie, and Jasper are waiting patiently to show you a new trick next time you come...

  3. A comment from a reader who doesn't know how to post on my blog:

    So, you don't like dogs...or you don't understand why some people favor animal love over man love? I'm not that "gaga", as we say in French, so I make a clear distinction between my love for my kids and husband and my love for my dog and cat. I know who I would save first, of course. However, I have lived with a dog since the age of 8 (I had relentlessly harassed my mom and dad for a dog, so they finally gave up and offered me a cocker spaniel for my birthday) with the exception of my student's years. Every time my dog or my husband's dog died, I would feel a terrible void coming back home. And I'm unable to really exlain why, to me and my husband, it is simply unconceivable not having a dog in the house. Is it related to that unconditional love that dogs offer you? To the fact that, no matter what, they will love you, be there for you? I don't know. Or is it something more primal, like through the dog, a link to your forgotten wild instincts and desires? Is it possible that we unconsciously consider our dog as our long-lost brother/cousin?
    Also, when you seem to doubt that a dog could love his master for other thing that just the food, I disagree with you. I'm pretty sure our dog's love for us his much more complex than that. My dog loves my kids and they never feed him. He is partucularly fond of my son, and follows him everwhere in the garden, lies next to him in the living room when he plays...In short, yes, I think that animals are do feel complex feelings.