Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Who Wants an Ugly Dog?


Dogs are lovable, but some take more effort to love than others.

I wrote before about my Aunt and Uncle who had a Boston Terrier that we called "The One-Eyed Monster."  It wasn't a bad dog, just neglected.  My Aunt and Uncle were both chain smokers and chronic alcoholics and my Mother was estranged from them.  I went to visit them once, on the sly and we sat outside while they chain-smoked.  Their dog had lost an eye somehow (that breed, like so many others, have bulging eyes that are easily damaged).

(NOTE:  I searched online for images of a one-eyed Boston Terrier and found pages of them, including the one above which is not the dog in question, who is long-dead as are Aunt and Uncle.  Apparently the bulging eyes can cause problems with eye loss on these types of breeds).

Worse yet, the dog had not been bathed in ages and  had a stink to it.  He shed, too, and liked to hump your leg.  He also had a problem with slobber - drooling down his face and wetting his chin and neck.  But what was really fun was that he loved people and wanted to jump up and kiss you, as well as sit in your lap.  So I was sitting there in a cloud of cigarette smoke while 'ol stinky kept jumping up on me, giving me slobbering kisses and shedding all over me - as well as drenching me in dog slobber.

Auntie and Uncle had given up on taking care of the dog, giving him occasional kibbles, but never baths or grooming.  He was starved for love which is why he jumped up on people.  I let him sit in my lap and pretty soon he calmed down and fell asleep.  "He never does that with me!" my Aunt said.  But then again, she wasn't exactly Mrs. Warmth, either.

What made me remember this was a couple I met at a campground who was complaining about their dog. They had adopted the dog from the pound but didn't like the dog.  I couldn't divine why, other than he behaved badly or something.  They were thinking of having the dog put down, just because they didn't "like" it and that made me very sad.  But it illustrates one problem with pets - people get pets and don't realize they are a 15-20 year commitment and that if they don't "bond" with the pet, they may have a stranger living with them for a decade or more.  A stranger who shits on the floor and leaves hair everywhere.

And yet, this seems to be a norm for many people.  I see all the time, people who have dogs they never walk, but let out into the yard once in a while - or leave chained-up to an old engine block in the front yard, making a circle with the chain of exposed dirt and dried-up dog turds, as well as an overturned water bowl.  A saw plywood dog "house" is their only refuge.  Why bother even having a dog?

Sad to say, my parents were the same way.   Pets were accessories to own, not animals to love.  We had a succession of pets that rarely ever say a vet and died prematurely.  I was the only one, it seemed, to ever actually "pet" our dog or brush it.  Of course, if you don't groom your dog, it isn't really fun to pet (dogs to acquire a stink which they enjoy).  So it becomes a vicious circle - the pet is neglected which leads to matted fur and dog smell, which in turn leads to more neglect.

Then you have folks like my Dad, who literally hated pets and had our family cats put down as soon as I left for college (he told Mom they "ran away" - perhaps to join the circus?).

I wrote before about the pet trap and how expensive pets can be to properly take care of.  They can also be problematic for young people who are at a transient stage in their lives.  Finding an apartment that allows pets can be daunting!  And the long hours young people often work (not to mention socializing) are hard on pets, who easily develop separation anxieties when left alone for extended periods of time.

And yet, young people, alone in the world for the first time in their lives, often need pets for companionship.  It is a tough nut to crack.

Worse yet are designer dogs, which people acquire as style accessories.  The current rage is "French Bulldogs" which are so inbred they can hardly breathe.  I've met a lot of folks who have them and they are sure to tell me how much they cost - they are the BMW of dogs, I guess.  But they really don't seem to love them, so much as keep them around as a fashion statement.  I feel sorry for the dogs more than the owners.

Dogs indeed are a funny thing - we've bred them for centuries to have specific characteristics, whether to work for us as guard or hunting dogs or to make them a bizarre looking as possible.  How would you explain to an alien being that a teacup Chihuahua and a huge Mastiff are both "dog"?  It shows how far we have developed the species from their wolf heritage.

I am not sure what the point of all this is, only that it made me sad to hear these folks talk about killing their dog with about as much emotion as talking about the weather or trading in a used car.  The dog was just a thing to them and was just not working out.  Maybe that is how people today are in general. People spend so much time online that they don't view their fellow creatures as being real or sentient.

Sadly, this is maybe why so many are calling for "Civil War" and other violent nonsense.  If other people are just objects, then killing them isn't wrong, is it?