What is it with dog lovers?

I grew up amongst those New Yorkers who lived by two and only two rules: never own a car and never own a dog. Those were for rich people only. While living many years out of New York, I did own cars. Owning a dog was just never of interest. When our kids begged and pleaded for pets, we allowed them gerbils, cats and parakeets. But no dogs! I look at dogs the way single people look at kids: why in gods names would anyone want one of THOSE?

So yesterday afternoon I was sitting at brunch with a friend, uptown near Columbia. She has this beautiful English Setter which she brought with her, and of course he had to sit on the outside of the restaurant’s perimeter. So we were sitting on the edge of the veranda, and he on the sidewalk right next to us. He is young and frisky and I actually felt some affection for the critter (perhaps an extension of my affection for his owner, who is madly in love with her dog). It didn’t even bother me when he licked away at some cuts I had on my arm from a recent bike fall. I tried not to think too much where his tongue had been last, and his owner reassured me that it would help heal the wounds. I did find his attention touching.

This was an extended brunch and so it it became the longest time in my whole life, that I spent with a dog by my side. Quite frankly, it gave me the feeling of joining some wierd cult.

Imagine if you will, that you are sitting with your girlfriend at brunch, and I come up and grab her in my arms and starting kissing her and hugging her and saying “Oh, isn’t she the most adorable thing!” Ok, forget your girlfriend. Imagine you are sitting at brunch with your baby in a carriage nearby sleeping. Every five minutes some stranger comes by, and with a perfunctory “May I?” grabs the baby from the carriage, wakes him up, cuddles him, kisses him, goos and gahs over him and drones on and on about their own babies. I mean, who would dare do such a thing, particularly in New York?

But apparently, dog lovers suffer from no inhibitions. It seemed like every five minutes, right in the middle of our conversation, someone would come by and grab the dog and start hugging him and ooh over him and almost tongue kiss the creature. And then go on and on and on about their dog and English Setters and gods know what. After they finally left, we would have to spend several minutes calming the excitable creature down and getting him to sit and relax on the sidewalk. And just when we turned back to our food and conversation, someone else would swoop down and it started all over again.

Don’t get me started on the dog walkers who tried to push themselves on us, and left their cards. The strangest encounter was some woman, probably a Columbia grad student, who plunked down on the sidewalk next to us and wouldn’t let go of the dog for ten minutes (no exaggeration). Could you imagine someone sitting down at your table at brunch? She was that close. All the while she muttered “I really should go study.” I was sorely tempted to say “You really should, lady” and I’m not sure what held me back.

After brunch, we went to a dog run in Riverside Park and I got to be trapped in a pen for twenty minutes with only dog lovers. Suffice it to say that — unlike their dogs, which for the most part are quite entertaining and fun-loving — dog owners are a strange and neurotic breed. I felt like I was in one of those movies where the hero inadvertently finds himself trapped in some alien meeting and he desparately wants to edge out of there quietly, before his presence is noticed.

In short, dog owners make even young parents seem semi-bearable. I pity the poor dogs, who deserve better. Maybe I’ll go out and get one for myself.

4 Comments so far

  1. ~dana (unregistered) on September 18th, 2006 @ 11:48 pm

    I know exactly what you mean! Recently my friend brought her dog to visit me in Williamsburg and after calling around finally finding a place where we could sit outside with the dog, things just kept escalating in weirdness. The host at the restaurant brought the dog water and treats before we even got our menus or water and every hardened hipster who would have never deigned to look in our direction stopped to “ooh and aah” over the dog. It was cute at first, but got very old quick as we couldn’t even carry on a conversation for two minutes without being interrupted.

    It was okay spending the afternoon with the dog, but I was glad when it went home. They require way too much effort and attention for my taste. I’m sticking with cats.

  2. Sean (unregistered) on September 19th, 2006 @ 10:09 am

    The funniest thing I’ve read in a seriously long time. Thanks.

  3. ny pooch patrol (unregistered) on October 1st, 2006 @ 1:20 am

    You wouldnt believe how many owners like that i meet. its insane.

  4. Mirra (unregistered) on October 1st, 2006 @ 1:21 am

    You wouldnt believe how many owners like that i meet. its insane.

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