tfw is a mini personal essay series I’m try to do on Tuesdays to recount second-person experiences of feelings and experiences we all have. Or maybe I’m the only one who has them?
You like dogs. You have a few dogs! Dogs are fun creatures: they are furry happiness. They live to serve people, to love people, to be with people. Dogs are very special.
You like specific dogs. Like people you are sexually attracted to, you have your preferences in terms of who you want to pet but, really, you will pet anyone. You don’t have very strict guidelines and feel that the right dog is the right dog is the right dog: if a dog is coming to say hi to you, you will say hi. You are a lover of dogs. You will never turn down a pet.
Some dogs give you pause, though. For example: some dogs have weird coats. Curly haired dogs aren’t weird but you’re not used to that. Sometimes their poodley rings of hair are coarse, knots of whatever dirty debris they picked up. You run your hand down their back and they remind you of a dog you once owned and loved but your grandmother literally stole the dog from you. So, you don’t really like dogs with curly hair. They remind you of your grandmother, the thief.
And then there are greasy dogs. These dogs can have any coat: as long as they are furry, they can be greasy. Their skin secretions paired with whatever grassy gifts they were given make for a dog that has a film of oil. Petting them is like petting Vaseline™ covered surfaces: interesting until you have to touch something else, something that isn’t Vaseline™ covered. These dogs have been outdoors for too long. “Have these dogs been left outside for hours?” you wonder. You look at it’s greasy, disgusting face. “This dog needs to be indoors.” You think about all those dogs you met growing up who spent their entire lives outside as the “Outside Dog.” The poor Outside Dog, greasy and unloved. You want to kiss them (after they have a bath).
If a dog is ugly, you will thank it for being a dog. You will smile at it and tell it that it is a beautiful dog but you will stare at its wiggly teeth when it is not looking or its patchy snout or its crossed eyes or its lopsided ears and you will think that the dog needs a makeover. Like the greasy dogs, an ugly dog has self-care issues beyond their control. You wonder if a physically ugly dog is a reflection of ugliness in a human’s life. You wonder and you smile and you polite-pet the dog, to not be rude, and you squint at the dog’s owner to try to find their ugliness.
Small dogs scare you. They could die from a squish or a squeeze. You don’t like those dogs. A friend of yours from elementary school once had a dachshund puppy who was playing in a pile of laundry. The father of your friend stepped on the laundry pile and killed the puppy. Small dogs scare you. You appreciate a small dog but you know to be extra careful. Small dogs are a hazard.
The dogs with the eyes: you don’t like those dogs. They have those eyes. They are squinty or too wide. They have seen something. You don’t want that. Take those devil eyes away, dog. Those dogs must carry a curse.
The dumb dogs, the bratty dogs, the pathetic dogs: these dogs need to grow up, to become real dogs. These dogs need to evolve. These dogs are toys and dogs are not toys. Dogs are babies. You remember a dog of a friend, a dog whose poos and pees were wiped out of by hand, a dog that could barely walk because of the absurd symbiotic relationship it had formed with its owner. “Put a leash on that thing,” you think. “Take that dog for a walk. Teach it to be a dog.” Your parents always hated those dogs and you now hate them too. They, like dumb bratty pathetic kids, are no good.
Then the dog that wasn’t adopted. You stare at it and you wonder how it came to life. Did it come from a factory? A laboratory? A breeder? You look at this dog and you think of the one or two or ten or hundreds of dogs who could have been saved with the money it took to make this dog. You think about all the little doggies that need adopting. You think about the word “adogtion” and you wonder if you could ever adopt a French Bulldog, which is impossible because no one would ever want to release a French Bulldog from their care.
One of the worst dogs is the dog that you wish was yours. This dog you will never like. You will never allow yourself near this dog because you fear you will take this dog. You are not a dognapper. You are a dog lover. You do not get too close to this dog because you do not want to deal with the trauma of saying bye. This dog is one of the worst because they are the pet store dog. “Do not touch that dog,” you think. “You will want to take it home. You will want to save it.“
You think of all these dogs you do not like. You do not like them because they are not yours, in some way. You do not like them because you are on borrowed time with them. These dogs are like that person you meet at a party, that person who you know you will never see again, that one night stand that you hope and pray and crave to stay with you forever but, no, this dog is for a limited time only. With their curls and their grease and their ugliness and their smallness, their eyes that are dumb and bratty and pathetic, the dog you buy with money you don’t have, the dog that you wish was yours: you do not like that dog.
That dog should be your dog but it is not your dog so you do not like that dog.