So You Say You Want a Dog, Huh?

Over at Slate, Jon Katz has an article up about the romanticization of dogs, and about what you should think about before buying one. The article is called Finding the Perfect Dog – There is no such animal. So, stop looking, and it comes complete with a series of questions for reflection that you ought to think over before you go out and get a dog.

The peddling of Perfect Dogs amounts to a multibillion dollar business in the United States. You’ll never see images of ugly dogs vomiting in the living room or terrorizing the letter carrier on dog food commercials. Those dogs?the ones we want?are always adorable. Their happy owners are not holding pooper scoopers.

Because people have such ill-informed and unrealistic expectations, dogs often suffer when their true hungry, messy, and alien natures are revealed. They get yelled at, irritated by studded chains and zapped by electronic collars, tethered to trees, hidden away in basements and back yards, or dumped at shelters and euthanized.

The most important time for you and your dog is the stretch you spend considering whether, where, and how to get a dog and what sort of dog to get. Unfortunately, that process lasts only a few minutes for most people. Thus, much trouble for both species.

Most Americans acquire dogs impulsively and for dubious reasons: as a Christmas gift for the kids. Because they saw one in a movie. To match the new living-room furniture. Because they moved to the suburbs and see a dog as part of the package. Because they couldn’t resist that wide-eyed puppy in the mall pet store or the poster published by the local shelter.

The questions are really interesting, actually, and I think the same kinds of questions could be asked about things like some marriages, car purchases, and so on.

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