Y’all, I had one of the most bizarre experiences of my life the other night when I went out to dinner with a couple of girls from work.
Let me preface this whole blog post by saying that I am NOT a pet person. In my house, dogs were acquired freely from the trash dump, the animal shelter, or the neighbor down the street whose mutt had 12 puppies and the family was giving them away for free, because although puppies are cute nobody wants 12 of them chewing up every pair of shoes they own.
We did buy one puppy when I was kid. We paid $25 for her which I remember thinking was an astronomical price to pay. She died of parvo less than two weeks later. Lesson learned: don’t pay money for a dog. The ones that just wandered into our yard always seemed to live indefinitely. So, I made an executive decision right then and there in my 12 year old mind that buying a dog was an excessive waste of money which made no practical sense.
So, like I was saying, dogs around our house were completely free and disposable. If the stray dog that had wandered into our yard became a nuisance, we would wake up one morning to find that he mysteriously disappeared around the same time my dad had gone squirrel hunting that morning. Hmmm. If they got hurt, they were put out of their misery – we did not spend money taking dogs to the vet.
Never mind that we paid good money for our show cattle and washed and blow dried them every day and spent our weekends showcasing them all around the state, dogs were not animals for money to be spent on. And even as much money as we spent on our livestock, they were still never our pets. I started showing sheep at age 5 and I learned really quickly that at the end of all of that time and effort I put into that livestock project, that sheep was going into our freezer and we would be eating it. It was not a pet to get attached to, it was a livestock project that would later become dinner. Because that is what animals were to us growing up. Animals were not pets, and certainly not people.
Well, Lord help my soul, if I am not living in an alternate universe these days. I realize the way I grew up is strange to most suburbanites, but it was normal to me. I am realizing that in this suburban wasteland that I currently inhabit, I am far from normal. And no, this is not the first time this has dawned on me. The point is just being driven further home. People love their pets. Many people love their pets as if they were humans. Most people love their pets more than they love humans. This is weird to me, but I am quickly realizing that I am the “weird” one in this world of subdivided neighborhoods that I call home.
Back to my original story – I go out with some girls from work the other night and they bring their dogs with them. This is a new concept for me. Cause you know in my book dogs are not humans and they belong running wild and free in the woods, not in your house and not at a restaurant eating dinner with you. I think this is a normal thought process. Apparently, I am not normal. I think it is strange to take your dog with you to a restaurant. Apparently, I am strange. Can I just tell you how people flocked to these dogs while we were trying to eat? You would have thought that Prince William and Kate Middleton had just walked in to showcase the royal baby and heir to the British throne the way people gawked and jaw dropped over these dogs. People stopped us on the sidewalk and while we were eating so that they could pet the dogs. They shared doggie stories about their dogs and how much they loved them. Others brought their dog to our table so their dogs could bond with ours. And this was all perfectly normal! I have an absolutely adorable 8 month old niece with chubby cheeks that you just want to kiss all day long and big beautiful blue eyes and a smile that can light up a room and I have never seen anyone pay her attention the way people paid attention to these dogs. I was way out of my element, living in a parallel universe, where people openly admitted and demonstrated that they preferred pets to people.
I was rendered speechless, and we know how hard that is to do. All I’ve got left to say is I’ve got to get back to rural America and quick. And while I am there, maybe I will raise a few babies and maybe people will fuss over those babies like they are cute, and special, and humans. And if they show my dog more attention than my babies, I will likely cut them.