Pet Peeves: One Guy’s Rant

Some people just don’t get it!

By Tony Fong
Photo credit: Raymond Wagner

Photo credit: Raymond Wagner

After Dusty my childhood cocker spaniel died, many of my best friends came to see how I was doing. One friend brought my favorite dessert (cheesecake, if you’re wondering); another made some kind of quiche. I felt like I was at a wake. Mostly, people were very kind and compassionate.

There were some friends, however, who simply did not accept the gravity of pet bereavement.[1] For them, the death of a beloved animal was no more serious than the annoyance of shrinking a favorite shirt — granted, the latter too can be quite traumatic. Yet despite not understanding why I was so distraught, these people nonetheless offered their condolences.

“When are you getting another one?” a school friend asked as I wept over my beer.

Perhaps because of my visible shock, he then suggested that I stuff my recently-deceased dog, Norman Bates-style. This way, he pointed out, I would have Dusty forever.

He meant well, I suppose. But my point is that though we may think of our pets as an inextricable part of our families, many people simply cannot comprehend the powerful bond we have with them. Pets are often regarded as nuisances by a large portion of the population. They’re not allowed in grocery stores, restaurants, and public pools. Okay, I don’t think dogs should be in public pools either, but you get the point. Why shouldn’t I be able to walk my dog on the way to the local supermarket? Are pets more toxic than the pesticides on apples? Does my dog smell more offensive than the person in line who recently discovered the latest Justin Bieber fragrance? I assure you, dear reader, he does not.

People may be allergic to your dog, some say. Notwithstanding the fact that many dogs — mine included — are hypoallergenic, grocery stores are already chock-full of allergens. The last I checked, peanuts and shellfish are much more dangerous than dog fur. If guide dogs are allowed in food establishments, then clearly the allergy defense is more a justification for anti-petism than a real health concern.

What if your dog were to relieve himself willy-nilly in my food establishment, others demand. Well, first of all, my dog is well-trained and has the good sense not to excrete indoors. He is a show dog, after all. There is, I acknowledge, always the possibility of an accident. This leads me to my second point. Life is messy. Babies pee. Adults vomit. And yet adults grocery-shop with babies in tow all the time. No one tells them that they’re unhygienic — even though sometimes somebody should. I’ve seen delirious winos urinate in the corner of a packed bar, thinking no one will notice. And yet, at the same bar, my dog is not welcome. I, at least, will clean up after my dog. Where may I ask are this wino’s parents?

I’m not one of those people who think that pets are the same as human babies, but come on… Stop treating pet owners like second class citizens. Lovers of pets are also lovers of people. We are not all crazy and anti-social. If you prick us, do we not bleed?

[1] I was recently accosted by an ashen man while waiting for the bus. “Your dog is like a little person,” he declared. Then, after a solid five minutes of unsolicited conversation, he concluded with a sigh, “It’s too bad he doesn’t have a soul.”