Monday, March 03, 2008
If you can look at a dog and not feel vicarious excitement and affection, you must be a cat.*
I am not a Dog Person. I like dogs in the abstract. I like the idea of dogs, the picture of them lounging at your feet, warming them on cold nights, of taking them on long walks and watching them frolic with the children. But that's the idealized picture of dogs.
The reality of dogs is that are a lot of work and good grief, are they needy. They need to go out, they need to come in, they need to be fed, walked, petted, played with. And I already have two toddlers and a teen-ager with a chronic illness (and let's not discuss That Canadian Boy I Married - he's the neediest of them all). I've got needy coming out of my ears.
But we do have a dog and I do like her.
Yeah, maybe you could leave off the party hat next
time, ok? A little dignity would be nice, lady.
I don't feel overwhelmingly in love with the dog, although I did go thru paroxysms of worry when she bolted two years ago. So, yes, I like her. I feed her. I put flea goop on her. I vacuum up the metric ton of hair she sheds every day. I take her for walks and I rub her belly. And when she dies, as she inevitably will, I will be sad but not devastated. Like I said, I like dogs, I'm just not a Dog Person.
All that said, we have new neighbours and the neighbours have two dogs. One is one of those itty bitty things that looks like a football with fur. A handle-less dust mop. More of a toy than a dog. And their other dog seems to be some sort of golden lab mix. The toy mop dog gets walked and kept in the house. The other dog? Is in the cellar. By himself. With a water and food bowl, yes, but still. He's down there all day, all night, alone. Peeing and pooping on the floor. Sleeping on the floor. The cold concrete floor. Every time I go downstairs I can hear him dragging his bowl around. I can smell the pee and poop. It's disgusting, but more than that, it's wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Because while I am not a Dog Person, I am an animal person and I believe if you adopt a pet, you need to treat it as a pet, not as something you store in your cellar or in a chain link enclosure outside.
Do I complain to the landlord and have the neighbours become even weirder than they are already? (They have yet to say hello to us, even when we run into them in the drive way. They just look at us and go in the house. Very weird.) Is it considered abuse if he's being fed and given water? He looks healthy - doesn't look matted, doesn't look malnourished - from what I can see thru the slats that divide the cellar. But he must be lonely. And bored, if he's dragging around his water dish.
Why would you have a dog if you aren't going to have it living with you? As nuts as my dog can make me at times, she's still in the house with us, sleeping on her bed or trying to mooch food while I'm making meals, letting the babies crawl on her and giving them sloppy, smelly face washes which they love and I try not to think about. (because, ew, the dog eats her own vomit. And cat shit. And, just ew. Ew, ew, ew.) I would never leave her in the cellar by herself. I hated even leaving her on a run outside for more than a couple of hours at a time. I made a commitment when I adopted my dog and I am not one to go back on that, just because my life is busy.
I feel bad for this dog. I feel bad that he doesn't have an owner who cares for him, even in the half-assed way I care for my dog. I want to go over there and ask if they need another home for the dog, but given their weirdness, I'm a little afraid to do that.
I just know that every time I go into that cellar, my heart aches a little more for that dog. And pretty soon, I'm going to have to do something, because I can't take much more.