Let's Talk: Is Your Dog Like a Child to You?
Hey, Dogsters! I want to run something by you and see what you think. Last week I was quoted in an interesting article in USA Today about the dramatic rise in the number of dog parks in the U.S.
Here are the two paragraphs I contributed to:
"It's socializing for both" the dogs and the owners, says Maria Goodavage, a San Francisco writer and mom (of a kid and a dog) who founded the Dog Lover's Companion series of guide books for dog owners and author of the upcoming Soldier Dogs: Untold Stories of America's Canine Heroes. "I met my husband in a dog area," she says.
Dog owners have become a powerful lobby, Goodavage says, because they feel that "these children of ours are furry, they have four legs but we're still paying taxes to be here and we still want our recreational needs met."
(As background, the article had been talking about the fact that there are more households with dogs these days than with children; thus the mention of the fact I have both.)
What I said seemed innocent enough to me. I was telling it like it is. "I have a dog and I vote" is more than a bumper-sticker slogan. It's a reality: Dog owners are a powerful demographic these days, in part because dogs are considered kids in many households, and people will do anything for their kids be they human kids or fur kids. And with dogs more prevalent than children in so many cities, dog groups can be taken pretty seriously by government entities. (Don't get me started on what's going on in some San Francisco dog areas these days, though ...)
Well, I began getting hate mail from what looked like many people, but it turned out the computer ID was always the same, so it's just hate mail from one person. Actually, apparently there may be another, because someone who's helping me deal with some issues on another website told me there were more of the same in one of my web inboxes. (I didn't have time or desire to look, so she trashed them for me.)
This person had a problem with me saying that many people consider dogs their children. She had a big problem with it, actually. Here are some lines plucked from a few of her e-mails:
"You sicken me. You are completely screwed up if you think these vermin called dogs are like children! What the hell is wrong with you?"
"Children are a gift from God. Dogs are SH#$. For you to equate them means YOU ARE AN ABSOLUTE IDIOT."
"You said that people say 'These children of ours are furry.' HOW DARE YOU EQUATE CHILDREN AND DOGS?!"
I wanted to respond to the last one and say, "Yes, some people think of dogs as furry children.And some people think of children as furless dogs." But I refrained. I have ignored all the e-mails in hopes that this fan of mine will get tired and go away.
Last week I was having a laugh with Janine Kahn, Dogster's managing editor, over some of the hate-filled e-mails, and she suggested I use the issue of dogs as fur kids for one of my new "Let's Talk" features. A brilliant idea! Who better to ask about the dogs-as-kids issue than Dogsters?
So I have a few questions for you to get this started. Do you consider your dog to be like your child, or close to it? Do you have any human children? Do people ever give you guff about how you treat your dog if your dog is like your child? Would you risk your life for your dog? I'd love to get a conversation going about how we think of our dogs in our lives.