You know the rush of affectionate emotion you feel when you enter someone’s home and their dog comes to greet you?
I rarely feel that.
I do not know why this is; it’s as if while moving down the human-making assembly line I somehow skipped right past “affection for furry friends” and instead got a nice dose of “allergic to anything with hair.”
That’s why I don’t feel too guilty about not adoring animals — I was programmed to reject them. It’s not my fault.
But I wish I did. I wish I was one of those people. I want to be the type of person who adores every kind of animal, large or small, attractive or not, smart or…otherwise.
Instead, everyone else is always rubbing dogs from head to tail and I’m standing there like I have a black heart.
Last weekend Mike and I house-sat for my parents while they were traveling, and that included the care of their two dogs, Belle (11 years old) and Griffey (10 months old).
They are really good-looking dogs, and are probably the closest thing to a pet I would want. In fact, my parents’ dogs have always won me over, probably because I knew them as puppies. Even I can’t resist a puppy; I may have a black heart, but I’m not dead.
The hiccup in my pet-aversion is the fact that I married not just a dog lover, but a dog OBSESSOR. Mike is completely sold out for dogs of all shapes and sizes. He will approach any stranger to befriend their dog and then turn to me with a child’s desperation and say “see? How can you not love this?!”
When we walk around the waterfront, I point out adorable children and he points out adorable puppies. The difference is, I am admiring the children as gorgeous little people who are a pleasure to look at from a distance; Mike is looking at the dogs and silently choosing the breeds of future family members.
On Saturday, in order for us to have a true doggie adventure with Griffey, we decided to visit the off-leash dog park at Marymoor. Just to put Mike’s love of dogs in perspective: we have actually visited the dog park without a dog before, solely so Mike could get his fill. For the record, it felt weird. Kind of like visiting a daycare without a child. Creepy.
This time, dog in hand, we felt like we were card-carrying members of the dog-owner club. We did the polite nod of acceptance with other dog owners as we proudly entered the park with Griffey. It didn’t hurt that we had taken my mom’s Mini Cooper convertible to the dog park — we were flying down the freeway with the top down and a happy dog in the backseat. Everyone stared. And we all know that I love when everyone stares.
We were walking along, basking in dog-pride, when a woman passed by and said with more attitude than necessary, “You’re brave to bring food into the dog park.” No smile — just sass.
Mike looked at me holding our Chipotle burrito bowls. The thought of a picnic-in-a-dog-park conflict never crossed our minds. We had just exposed ourselves as dog-owner fakes. Rookie mistake.
I’ll show her, I thought.
I sat down on a rock and started to open the bag when three dogs came charging at me. I jumped up, food in hand, while irritated owners called their dogs back. “Sorry,” I mumbled. “My bad.”
Needless to say, I took the food back to the car.
Griffey got along well with the other dogs, and garnered praise from other owners for being so beautiful. Mike and I shuffled our feet in bashful pride; we didn’t think it necessary to tell them she wasn’t technically ours. Why reject a decent compliment?
The best part was taking her to the waterfront. She didn’t hesitate to race down the steps into the water. Every other owner was throwing balls into the water for their dogs to fetch. I turned to Mike and said, “Oh my gosh. It’s like we’re the awful parents who don’t buy toys for our child! Griffey is humiliated!”
For the next hour she avoided eye-contact with us like an 8-year-old kid getting out of the car for school. Please, her face said, pretend you don’t know me.
Somehow, she forgave us. It may or may not have had something to do with the treats in our pockets.
For proof that I morphed into a dog-liker in one weekend, look no further than my threads: I am wearing sneakers with jeans. That does not happen.
For proof that my black heart is showing signs of color, look no further than this admission: I miss the pups. A little.