I was bitten by a dog as a child, which has caused a lifetime fear of them. As an adult, I have developed allergies to both dogs and cats. It’s hard to run away quickly if you are sneezing and your eyes are swelled shut.
Perhaps my inability to be around cats and dogs contributes to my shock at how they are treated in the common American home. I have friends who sleep with dogs every night. (The four legged kind. I’m not making a judgement statement here). Being a farm girl, even without allergies, I wouldn’t think of letting a dog sleep in my bed.
I’ve seen where dogs go and what they lick. Putting that next to my face isn’t something I would relish even though I loved the animal. And people who kiss their pets on the mouth or let them lick their faces? They could just as well take a trip to the dumpster behind an all-you-can-eat-buffet restaurant, to scrounge for food left by others. (I can almost read the hate mail now.)
So it shouldn’t be a surprise what happened to me one day, at a flea market. I encountered a woman pushing a baby carriage. She smiled and I said, “Nice day today isn’t it?” She agreed.
“Angela likes it!’ she said brightly and looked toward the carriage with love in her eyes.
“Awww ....” I say. “How old is Angela?”
“13 months,” the nice lady said.
“Can I take a peak?” I asked, being the crazy-about-babies person that I am.
“Yes. She’s awake,” she said as she gently pulled the blanket down and the hood of the carriage back slightly so I could take a look.
I leaned my head in. I don’t think I screamed. I don’t think I made that face I make at the climax of a horror movie. I think I stayed in fairly good control. But expecting to see a cherub-cheeked infant with bright eyes and fists moving through the air, I was instead met by a hairy mongrel whose eyes were dripping in the corners and teeth were bared menacingly.
Of course if I was forced to wear a bunny pajamas in public and a bonnet, I’d probably be a little cranky too. There was a split second that I thought that poor woman had the ugliest baby in the world and I felt sorry for her. Then I realized that I was looking at a mixed breed mongrel that would have rather been chasing skunks and sniffing other dogs than going for a ride in a baby carriage on a nice day, wearing bunny pajamas.
The woman was waiting expectantly to have me tell her what a beautiful fur baby she had. I think she was even going to allow me to touch her precious pet. My fingers almost came over the side of the basket, wanting to please her, but Angela looked very hungry and adverse to strangers. Angela was making a noise deep in her throat that humans only make when their mother-in-law interferes with their marriage or when a coach doesn’t put their child into a game for enough playing time.
I’m not sure what fumbling words I used to extricate myself from the situation. I know that I didn’t have to run very far to my car and I remember locking my door, but that is about all I recall.
In reflecting on the situation, I want to make it perfectly clear that I am not ridiculing the woman who has converted her dog into a human. Not at all. If you have that much love and imagination in you, that’s awesome. I’m simply saying that I just don’t understand it.
Some animal enthusiasts say that they prefer their dog or cat to humans. I suppose dogs and cats don’t talk back. They love you unconditionally. You don’t have to give them an allowance.
If this trend continues, though, I’m just afraid that one day, I’ll see humans lifting legs against trees, and German Sheppard’s wearing glasses and carrying a briefcase.
But then, maybe my fear and allergies are just getting out of hand.