I have a dog. Her name is Gypsy. And I hate her. I hate my dog. And I am not using that word facetiously or ironically. I absolutely loathe this animal. And, yes, I know. Horrifying. What is wrong with me that I cannot find a scrap of love for one of God’s gentle creatures? I get it. Believe me, I do. I am aware that my proclamation of disdain for this benign canine demands an investigation into the hypothesis that, in the grand tradition of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, my heart is two sizes too small. What’s worse, I am not on the verge of providing data which will make my enmity appear more acceptable. You are not getting this piece of data out of context. I am going to tell you more, of course. But take heed. At the conclusion of this piece, you will basically know what you know now. I hate my dog.
I have hesitated writing this piece for some time now. I assume you can imagine my reasons for caution. We all know that I have never been shy about bringing forth opinions and experiences which promise to prove less than popular. But really… dog hatred?! How do you defend that one? Sure, maybe if the dog was rabid or incontinent. But she’s not. Not yet anyway. No, she’s a gentle, loving animal who spends most of her time asleep. I’m not erecting much of a platform for myself here, am I? She’s not a bad dog. I suppose my hope is that this does not automatically trigger the conclusion that I am a bad person. It feels that way. And I guess that is why I am, all of a sudden, capable of sharing this heretofore unspeakable truth. If you read the last piece, I am having a difficult week. And perhaps that is the gift of the depression. My self-loathing has been so deep recently that I am quite sure I am a piece of shit anyway. How much worse could dog hater make me, yes? So, the depression has opened the thruway to finally voice the depths of my rampant misanthropy. I don’t know that that is a good thing. But it is what it is.
Allow me to give you a bit of history and perhaps a more global look at my attachment to the wide world of bow-wows. As a kid, and as a young adult, I was a confirmed “dog person.” “Dog person” as opposed to “Cat person” of course. I, as I believe most people do, always understood that you were one or the either. You rooted for The Yankees OR The Mets; you were a morning person OR a night person; and you liked the puppies OR you liked the kitties. I hated cats. Anti-social, holier-than-thou, disposable pets is how I saw them. Useless. I loved dogs. All of them. Well, almost all of them. I wanted a dog more than anything in the world. Unfortunately, mom wasn’t having any pets in The Mark household, mainly under the auspices that she would wind up being the one taking care of it. And, truth be told, that’s exactly what would have happened. Never did get a dog. Not until the lousy one that I am writing about. I fell in love with every one of my friend’s dogs and made a bee line for every passing hound with whom I suspected I might be able to get away with sharing some short term affection.
Interlude: I must tell you that I took a break from writing for a moment to surf over to Facebook and take a look at the latest batch of useless bullshit posted on my page. At the very top was this:
The cause has 482,704 members and has raised $13,830.
Do you suppose that is God telling me to shut up now before it’s too late?
Ah well. Carrying on:
Then I met Lorri. Lorri had a cat. I was in love with Lorri, so I wouldn’t have cared if she had a pet Brontosaurus. Still, I was kind of bummed about the cat. Koala was its name. Big fat cat. Twenty pounds easy. With the saddest hangdog face I had ever seen on a feline. I came to like Koala. Then I came to love Koala. I renamed him “Fatty,” (which he was to be known as from then on, even by Lorri) and, through him, truly came to understand all those people who always said, “You need to own a cat to understand what is so wonderful about a cat.” I hated those people. Damned if they weren’t right.
Three months later came Christmas and Lorri took me down to the ASPCA to get a kitty all my own. I adopted Ripley, a three month old Coon, who I can just now see yawning at the top of the stairs in all her fourteen year old glory. I became a died in the wool, card carrying cat person. This is not to say that I, accordingly, decided that I needed to forsake all dogs, but there was a tangible shift.
I suppose, in addition to my new love of kitty cats, was the fact that I was getting older. And with age, at least for me, came a solidifying of my (let’s say) idiosyncrasies. I’m fairly obsessive-compulsive, which doesn’t really align itself all that well with dogs. Dogs are smelly. Dogs are hairy. Dogs are slobbery. Dogs are stupid and don’t know how to take a hint. Dogs started to bug me. Not all of them. The painfully cute ones who were bathed regularly and didn’t shed on me were still fun to be around. Other than that, though, I could take them or leave them.
And, as far as owning one? Jesus. Talk about no bang for your buck. I certainly understand a human beings desire for love and companionship. But why choose an animal who needs to be taken outside multiple times a day and chews on your shoes and won’t ever leave you alone and needs bathing and grooming and cleaning? Hassle with a capital “H,” no? Cat, my friend. That’s your answer. Set up a poop box, toss out a dish of food and you- are- done. Every now and again, scoop the poop and fill the bowl and that’s that. Pet them. Don’t pet them. Play with them. Don’t play with them. They couldn’t care less. They are self- sufficient. They bathe themselves and cover up their own leavings so as not to disturb you with unpleasant odor.
It’s similar to how I now understand friendship. I don’t want to be friends with a dog. Not for me. I’ll pass on the people who are all over you and constantly want to talk and play and get pissy when you aren’t adequately available and go pee in the corner to get your attention. I need cat friends.
So, anyway, by the time my childhood dream of having my own little doggy became a reality, I was not so much into the dogs anymore. To make matters worse, I didn’t get to go out and choose a dog I actually had some interest in. I got stuck with Gypsy. Okay, not stuck. I made a choice. A woman who meant a tremendous amount to my wife and myself (a mother of sorts) passed away, and as her estate got parsed out, it became clear that no one had been bequeathed the aged obese Corgi. Lorri was really hurting and it became clear that taking in the dog might be akin to taking in a living part of the woman we had lost. It was delightful in theory. Turned out to a train wreck in practice.
My malice toward Gypsy, as mentioned earlier, is not in any way proportional to the amount of annoyance that she actually causes me. Although there is fair amount of that. She sheds constantly. It’s a nightmare. Corgis are one of the few breeds that shed year round. It’s like a spaghetti western in my house. Tan tumbleweeds breeze by me day and night. She whines and cries constantly. If she’s inside, she whines to go out. If she’s outside, she cries to come in. And the specific sound of this dogs insipid whimpering feels to me as if someone is stripping my skin off. Also, her nails, no matter how often we have them clipped, make this clicking sound on the wood floor that drives me batshit. Wait, there’s more. She’s fat as hell. Huge. Her belly is just short of dragging on the ground. She looks more like a pot bellied pig than a dog. In our defense, she came to us this way and has actually lost a few pounds since the transfer. Point is, it take her an enormous amount of effort to ascend or descend the stairs. When she does either, it sounds like a herd of buffalo is in transit. And for some mind-bendingly irritating reason, she comes to the conclusion that she needs to change what floor she’s on every fifteen minutes. Additionally, when she eats, the sounds that come out of her are revolting. It sounds like a rabid wildebeest feasting on the entrails of a freshly killed zebra. Plus, she snores like a passed out homeless alcoholic. What’s more, her breath smells like death and she has caked up gook in the corners of her eyes. Finally, her tail sticks straight up in the air so whenever you glimpse the back of her you are staring headlong into her asshole. So, all in all, she sucks. She’s a crappy dog. Corgis, in general, kind of suck. With the fox ears and the stubby legs- they are ridiculous looking dogs. But even in the world of ridiculous Corgis, she sucks.
Even still, my animosity feels rooted in something more covert. She triggers me like crazy. Not every second, mind you. But more often than not. My wife’s theory is that my repulsion toward Gypsy is actually a deep rooted malevolence at myself. I think she may be right. It seems quite possible that this animal represents the parts of me that I find unlovable, if not downright deplorable.
I try not to be mean to her. Honest, I do. I bounce in and out of guilt in the relationship. I often come around to apologize to her and work really hard for a bit to smile at her and pet her and say nice things. Inevitably, though, I get triggered anew and lash out. Let me be clear- I am not harming this dog. I don’t beat her (although I will admit to having nudged her with my foot more than a few times). I feed her (when Lorri asks me to, otherwise I let her take care of it.) I let her out to pee (although sometimes I forget she is out there and the neighbor comes and rings the bell to let me know that she is crying on the porch.)
Truth is, I long for her death. I pray for her demise. This dog cannot die quick enough for me. I’m not going to kill her (although I have fantasized it often). If a car was barreling down on her, I feel quite certain I would push her out of the way (well, pretty sure anyway). But, make no mistake- I will experience much joy when she goes to her great reward. I may even do a little jig. Quite frankly, I have no idea what’s keeping her going. The average lifespan of a Corgi is around 12-13 years, which is what she is right now. Add to that her massive girth and her need to pound on her joints by going up and down stairs all day and she is a walking miracle.
And maybe that’s it right there. Maybe God is trying to teach me a lesson about compassion. Maybe The Almighty has deemed that this dog will continue to walk the planet until I can learn to love her. The way this is going, she’s gonna live to eighty… at least.