St John Karp

Ramblings of an Ornamental Hermit

Your Dog Doesn’t Love You

When I was at uni a woman asked me whether I was a dog person or a cat person. I said neither, but she insisted I had to pick one (because those are the only two kinds of people in the world). She pestered me until I eventually conceded that although I’m not fond of either, I prefer cats. Then she started hectoring me for choosing the wrong answer, because what would the world be if we all went round having different opinions and thinking for ourselves like some kind of dirty communists. Later on I had the dubious honor of meeting her two dogs, who immediately leapt at my crotch and tried to rip my dick off. Then she sat me down and showed me a photo album of the same dogs wearing holiday costumes. “This is Woofenstein at Christmas and this is MacArthur Bark wearing a party hat…” I KNOW. I’M LOOKING AT THE ACTUAL DOGS IN REAL LIFE RIGHT NOW. That was when I started to hate dogs. The blame isn’t even with the animals themselves, although they are disgusting. It’s the owners. They can’t imagine a world where everyone doesn’t love their mongrel as much as they do, and it makes life miserable for the rest of us.

There are tons of legitimate reasons to own a dog. They’re great service animals, and they can provide companionship for people who are elderly or disabled and can’t get out much. This isn’t about those people — this is about the people who are so emotionally needy that normal human beings can’t satisfy their constant yearning for attention and affection, so they decide to get a dog.

What I really hate is the unconditional love. There’s a gag in Frasier where Niles tells us Maris doesn’t like dogs because she doesn’t trust anything that loves her unconditionally. I hate to say it but I’m on Maris’ side. Why would anyone want something that loves them unconditionally? Unconditional love is unearned love. The dog doesn’t love you for who you are. The dog is just a directionless fire-hose of affection that will blast anyone standing in front of it. By all accounts Hitler was great with animals — your dog would love Hitler as much as it loves you. Have you really done so badly at connecting with other human beings that you have to go courting the affections of something that can’t tell the difference between you and Hitler?

While dogs can’t love you in any human sense, it’s legitimate to say you love your dog. I love a lot of non-sentient things. I love the smell of second-hand bookshops; I love to play with old film cameras; I love a nice glass of wine. You can love a dog the same way you love any other hobby, but it is mentally ill to personify that dog and willingly adopt the delusion that the dog is a human being. Yes, dogs have personalities, but it’s insulting to real people to equate the two. Someone once told me that their dog was staying with its grandparents, meaning the dog’s owner’s parents, not the dog’s biological grandparents. People are treating these animals as their own children. Joking that a dog is the same as your child might be cutesy, but everyone doing it all the time is just flippin’ weird.

Treating dogs as human beings opens up another, more unsettling can of worms. If you believe your dog loves you and you treat the dog as a human being, how is it okay to own it? If you equate your dog to a human being, doesn’t that make you a slave owner? Or, if you’d like to argue that dogs are more like children and are under your guardianship, haven’t you purchased a child that will always be dependent on you and will never grow up? A friendly reminder that I’m not the one who frames dogs in this light — it’s dog owners who fall over themselves to describe their dogs like this. The way I see it your dog is really more of a hobby that gives you the illusion of being loved, which means that you’re paying for affection because you can’t get it anywhere else. It’s like those episodes of Animal Hoarding where the family confronts the person who has 700 cats and says, “Who do you love more, us or the cats?” and the cat owner always replies, “The cats, obviously. If I liked you I wouldn’t have got 700 cats in the first place.” If you’re paying to own something so you can pretend it loves you, you might want to consider making some friends.

Dog owners’ inner lives, however, are not any of my business. If they want to buy a dumb animal and play at being a slave owner, why should I care. The reason I do care is because dog owners have to subject eeeeeeeveryone else to their own emotional retardation. If you go over to someone’s house, you have to meet their animal. It can leap up at you, gnashing its teeth and barking and tearing at your dick with its claws, and the owner will say, “Aw, he’s being friendly.” You know what, having your dog monster bark and bite doesn’t feel very fucking friendly, it feels like being attacked. Take some personal responsibility for the guests you invited into your house and keep your damn dog restrained. Even the docile ones give you unasked-for attention. I can’t tell you how many times a dog owner has let their animal sniff me in the street, only to leave a huge silvery streak of saliva all over my pants. I have to walk around for the rest of the day looking like Casper the friendly ghost just jizzed all over me because you assumed I wanted your animal to touch me. Next time someone lets their dog lick me, I’m going to spit on their pants and say, “What? Don’t you think having strangers spit all over you is just so adorable?”

I used to date someone who kept dogs and dog-sat for friends. I don’t want to get too graphic, but at one point we were sharing an intimate moment and the dog came and stood in between us and just sat there looking up at me. And my boyfriend just could not understand why that might be inappropriate or off-putting. Later that night the dog jumped into bed and my boyfriend spooned the dog, leaving me in a cold trench listening to the thing snuffle and slobber (it was a pug, so it had all the delightful breathing problems that go with that). I decided to spend the night on the sofa instead, and I copped a ton of flak for it in the morning. Apparently having a three-way with a dog is fine, but there’s something wrong with you if you don’t want to spoon a dog in the night. There’s a good reason that relationship didn’t last.

And now that I’ve mentioned pugs, don’t even get me started on the people who own them. That’s a whole other level of wrong — it’s criminal. Pugs have been bred for characteristics that result in a ton of medical problems. They have difficulty breathing and their eyes spontaneously pop out of their foreshortened heads. You know what the technical term for that is? Animal fucking cruelty. Anyone who’s paid money for a pug needs to go to goddamn jail. Just because I hate dogs doesn’t mean I’m all right with people torturing them.

I’ve stopped going over to friends’ houses if I know they have a dog. It’s sad — I know it’s sad that something as stupid as a slobbering mutt can obstruct a human friendship, but I don’t make the rules. I don’t want to be that demanding, finicky guest, and I have no right to tell people what to do with their animal in their own house. The only decision I have the right to make is whether or not I accept the invitation, and if the invitation consists of spending the night being frightened, farted on, or drenched in Casper cum while you coo over the animal you got because no-one else will love you, I’d rather just stay home.