I am writing this in a beer garden. It is 85 degrees outside, which for Northern California means it’s hot. As hot as it gets. This is it, the only day of the year where I can rock shorts and flip flops.
A strong, beautiful yellow lab sits next to me at this large community table where five other people are chugging beer at 4 in the afternoon, soaking up the only sun they have seen in days. Mark Twain once said that the longest winter he spent was a summer in California. What a wise man. People that think this state is all about sunny boardwalks and palm trees are mistaken. Sadly, mistaken.
Next to the beautiful lab sits a small, recently shaven, as I have come to find out from his overly chatty owners, Pomeranian. I love dogs. I love them badly. But this little dog is a mini-devil. An odd absurdity, yapping like a little…..(fill in the blank with whatever you want). What a little …..
He is wearing, yes wearing, a vest and a bowtie. His name is Thomas. That’s an actual human name. I know two men named Thomas. One kind looks like the Pomeranian. Now, sure Thomas the Pomeranian is cute. I won’t lie and deny that I sat here, at this particular table, to admire him and his brave companion. But that’s beside the point.
Let’s backtrack a bit. What do you think the great societies, the Incas, the Romans, the Ottomans, the Greeks, the Aztecs would say if they were privy to this moment of human history? What would Einstein say? What would Nelson Mandela say? What would Amelia Earhart say? Hell, what would my grandmother say?
Thomas won’t stop barking. Yapping rather. Let’s not call that nails-on-a-chalkboard-squeak a bark. The Lab, however, sits quietly, pondering existence. Looking curiously at this yappy mother…..(fill in the blank….plucker?) who dares call himself a dog.
When I see a dog, I immediately detach the dog from the human leashed next to him. On walks, on the beach, at beer pubs, every time I sight a dog, I say hello to the dog and not the owner. This causes a bit of confusion. But you see, the thing is, I understand the dog. The owner less so. Humans are funny.
It’s not Thomas’s fault he is wearing a bowtie. I’d bark my ass off if my parents forced a bowtie on me when I was a baby and couldn’t defend myself. I’d probably turn out to be a sociopath. Just like Thomas, the Pomeranian sociopath. I’d be the baby version of that.
But seriously, back to business…. so much money, every year, thousands upon thousands of dollars on silly dog clothing, organic treats, fancy leashes, pedicures, doggie weddings (sure I’d go to one, but this is not about me). Americans are crazy about their dogs. Dogs and beer. But it’s not only America; it has expanded all over the globe. I’m not upset about it; I say do what you want with your money. I say buy your dog the Halloween costume that he hates wearing. I say stuff your Chihuahua in small rain boots when it drizzles outside. Put your Maltese in a raincoat. Spend seventy-dollars, spend one-hundred. Whatever you want.
BUT… if you are spending $1230 (fact!) on hiring an artist to draw a portrait of Mimsy, your weenie dog (did you know, btw, that Hitler loved wieners, I mean weenie dogs…. Just sayin’), then you might want to reconsider your status as a… how shall I put this….., a civilized being….
I want to say I am better than that. I want to say that I would donate the ridiculous amount of money I would spend on doggie rain boots to a humane society or homeless shelter. I want to say that I’ve evolved passed all of these silly expenditures. But I know myself. I have that level of introspection needed to know that I would definitely, most certainly, buy those boots and decide year upon year that I’ll stop. I don’t have a dog, that’s the thing. I do have a guinea pig though. His name shall remain anonymous, to protect his privacy. He has, we have come to find out, many illegitimate children and we don’t want to draw attention to him as a “player.” I have bought him a Halloween costume. I have bought him countless treats, beds, toys, and knickknacks. Our holiday card this year featured him. He sends my mother grandmother’s day cards for mother’s day. Yes, I am that person. I love the little guy. So I get why people spend so much on their pets. I can argue it, I can be frustrated by it, I can make fun of it. But deep down I get it.
I love my guinea pig. We love our pets. People love their dogs. Dogs are our friends for life. Or for 10-15 years. Whatever gives first. They really are like our children. We share a home with them. They are shitty to us sometimes. We yell and them. We cuddle with them. We are proud of them. They embarrass us. We clean up after them. We feed them. We have faith in them to do the right thing. They do it sometimes and sometimes they don’t. They even start to look like us after a while.