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The Truth About Dogs.

by Dear Jon
September 24, 2002

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Sort 174_Dear Jon-The Truth About Dogs. ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:

Dear Jon,

What is the best breed of dog to have and why?

Dog Lover

Dear Dog,

I find that dog owners are themselves an interesting breed of person. A dog is a high maintenence pet: food, house-breaking, walks, letting in and out, grooming, flea prevention and veterinary care. The cost of owning a well-behaved dog are already high enough without adding to that the costs of owning a stupid or misbehaving dog. In return, the owner of the dog has a creature in the living room that sticks its nose into the crotch of visitors, and at random moments decides it needs to lick its own privates. Despite all the places their nose and tongue have been, they insist on licking you in the face. Dogs never have pleasant breath. When they get old and senile, which only happens after 14 years, they get ornery and untrustworthy around carpets or young children.

When you take them for walks, you have to pick up their excrement. This is mandated by local ordinance, due to the recognition of the public that owners who do not pick up their dog’s excrement are jerks to the rest of the public who do not find pleasant either the view of excrement or the possibility that excrement might be stepped in. Those who give their dogs free rein in their backyards have chosen to make the backyard friendly to dogs rather than friendly either to young children or to horticulture.

I have not looked this up, but I suspect that the following is true. Dogs were domesticated by human beings who had three objectives: First, to cow into submission these mongrels who otherwise posed a predatory threat to human society. Second, to clear the dwelling of smaller, nastier critters such as rats and snakes. Third, an emergency food supply. Domesticated dogs were thoroughly utilitarian. Dogs were never intended to be pets in polite society.

The place where the human/dog relationship remains truest to its intended form, is on a farm where the First Prime Rule is that the dog NEVER NEVER NEVER enters the house.

Granted that a dog makes sense as a farm animal, what kind of urban person owns a dog as a “pet,” then? What kind of person attempts to train a dog away from all its disgusting, stupid, embarrassing behaviors so that a dog can function as a respectable pet in an upscaling bourgeois neighborhood? Answer: Two kinds of people. The first kind are stupid. The second kind are martyrs.

One distinctive trait I have noticed in some urban owners of “pet” dogs is that of misplaced empathy. This occurs when the human insists that the dog knows what the human is thinking, or that a dog leashed to a light post while its owner goes inside to shop only whines because it is reflecting a deep sense of angst and relational alienation consonant with any human’s post-modern crisis at the subjectivity of meaning structures, or that all dogs go to heaven, and other nonsense.

Cats, on the other hand, dig what I’m talking about. Jiggy.

Anyway, the very best breed of dog is a “mutt.” Pure-breds are in-breds, which means that their sanity has been bred out of them. Without having taken any official poll, I suspect that most farmers can tell you that all dogs are stupid and it is best not to have a dog that is crazy, too. Most farmers will also tell you that, mutt or pure-bred, dogs don’t belong in the house.

The breed of dog to own depends on what you want from your dog. Do you want your dog to be tiny, spaztic and yippy? Do you want your dog to maul your neighbors? Do you want your dog to be big and wimpy, wetting on your carpet at your first sign of disapproval?

In my opinion, the best dog to own should be bigger than a cat but smaller than a Shetland pony. The dog should be intelligent enough to bark a warning to you when space aliens are landing in your driveway, and intelligent enough to welcome you home with quiet dignity at the end of a routine day. Urban dog martyrs that I know and respect as well-adjusted people (i.e. they recognize that their dogs are really dumb but are entertained by the stupidity) tend to have large wimpy dogs, like Retriever mixes, and hardwood floors.

Cats, by contrast, are a low-maintenece pet. A house-broken domestic cat is the easiest pet to take care of. All you need is someone, like your mother, who remembers to feed the cat daily and change the litterbox twice a week, and you’re all set.

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