I love dogs. I just want to make that abundantly clear before y’all come chasing me down with pitchforks and torches. My house is decorated with dog photos in dog-themed frames, art by Dean Russo, dog calendars, and various plaques featuring dog-related quotes. I promise, there is no hate for dogs in my home.
I do, however, have a certain amount of distaste for people who insist that their dogs are the top priority, all of the time, which means that at their house, you can’t eat dinner without swallowing dog hair and having begging faces shoved into your lap. I’m sorry (not really), that is not how I want to spend my time when visiting your home.
I regularly see fellow dog lovers sharing memes on social media about how their dog comes first, their dog lives at the house and you don’t, and how if you don’t like it you can just leave. While I understand the sentiment, and the passion that drives it, I just can’t agree. While I used to feel the same, I realized one day that I never actually followed those ideals. In fact, every time we would have company, I would put our dog, Axle, in his kennel or out on the deck in the fenced area with a tasty treat. I told myself I was doing it for his sake, as he’s very choosy about whom he likes and to what extent. But really, I was keeping in mind both my dog’s comfort and that of my guests.
For those who expressed the desire to meet my dog, I would explain his quirks, including the fact that he was probably going to be very excited, and that they should sit still and ignore him until he calms down. It would be very likely that he’d want to thoroughly sniff their ears and hair. I have no idea why he does this, but he feels this step is very necessary in deciding what level of friendship he is going to extend to someone. I usually give my guests some peanut butter or some other treat I have on hand to encourage Axle to see them as friends instead of as intruders. You don’t want to be labeled an intruder — I’ll leave it at that!
If we have overnight guests, I move Axle’s kennel to our bedroom, and alternate his time between the bedroom and outdoors. I have never had a guest complain about my dog or say that they were covered in hair by sitting on our furniture. We actually don’t let him get on the couch or the bed, although he has snuck into the bed a night or two as of late. Instead, he has a big leather ottoman to lounge on, and that seems to suit him just fine. I keep the floors swept and vacuumed, so you’re not likely to know that I even have a dog, so long as you don’t actually see him or notice all of the pictures. To me, this is all just part of keeping a neat home, being respectful of my guests, and also keeping my dog happy and comfortable.
Recently, we were invited to dinner at a family member’s home over the Thanksgiving holidays. This family member has always been very “dogs first,” even to the extent of letting them loose during a house party when she knew there were attendees who were terrified of dogs. I was hesitant about going because I didn’t want to spend the whole time trying to balance a squirming toddler and a plate of food while also being bombarded by four large, poorly behaved dogs, particularly since they have resource-guarding issues. Besides not wanting to share my plate, there are many holiday dishes that could make the dogs sick. I made it known that our attendance was on the condition that the dogs would be secured away from the gathering.
When we arrived, three of the dogs were outside in the fenced area. The senior dog was still inside, but he seemed more interested in begging food from his owner than harassing guests. I was pleasantly surprised that the other dogs were kept out of the way for the duration of our visit. Those who wanted to play with the dogs or didn’t mind playing keep-away with their food sat at the outdoor tables.
This was a welcome change from the last time we visited, when we found ourselves continually jumped on and otherwise accosted by the dogs. Unfortunately, although the dogs were not around, plenty of their hair and dander covered the furniture, plates, and other surfaces, so my sinuses were a nightmare the next morning. We’ll work on that next year.
What about you? Do you expect people to keep their dogs contained when you visit? Or are you a dog owner who believes in your dogs always being priority? Let us know in the comments!
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About Meghan Lodge: Fits the Aquarius definition to a fault, loves animals, and is always pushing for change. Loves ink, whether it’s in tattoos, books, or writing on that pretty sheet of blank paper. Proud parent of Toby and Odin (cats) and Axle (dog). I’m a former quiet nerd who’s turned bubbly animal-obsessed advocate.