Are you a dog person? Sounds like a silly question, but it is only a silly question if you happen to be a dog person. The fact is, there are many stops along the way between a person who merely tolerates dogs and a person who happily shares an ice cream cone with them.
In case you’re unsure, let me illustrate the qualities of a dog person. If you are a dog person, it is likely that you share your bed with a pup—at least one. This shared slumber space is not contingent on the size of the dog. It matters not if your breed is a Great Dane or a Pomeranian; part of that bed—either a big part or small part—is claimed by your dog. If you’re a dog person, who also happens to be a lover of Great Danes, your home is outfitted with a king-sized bed—you know, for the dog. There is also a huge portion of living space dedicated to its own luxuriously plush dog bed. And your dog-loving priorities will dictate positioning the furniture to facilitate space for that bed. It’s cruel to expect that big lovey dog to be cramped into a small space.
When leaving the house, a dog person’s exit strategy is complicated, to say the least. First, there’s a check and top-up of the water and kibble bowls, which only takes a few minutes—15, if you need to scrub the water bowl. Next, the dog needs to go out to do its business. Being let out varies from a quick in-and-out of a fenced yard to a 5-mile hike in the woods, so… taking anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours. Then, there’s making sure it can’t have access to anything dangerous in your absence, like a trash can, or some bacon thawing on the counter, or a box of chocolates on the nightstand. Closing doors, picking up trash cans and running a quick check through the house takes about 10 minutes. After that, you might want it to have something to occupy its time—perhaps chewing on a smoked bone. You buy those in bulk and keep them in the basement freezer, so you run down to fetch one—5 minutes more, unless you get distracted by other chores. Depending on the distraction(s), this could add just a few minutes or a solid hour. Right before the dog person leaves, it’s time to make some decisions. Grab that television remote and get busy searching. You want your pup to have some background noise, so you spend an inordinate amount of time searching for a program that will provide comfort while you are gone. I’ve heard of streaming programs made specifically for pets. I must say that it’s pure genius to provide a subscription where critics are unable to leave a rating. Some people put on nature shows, assuming their pup would like a bit of scenery while it sits on its plush throne, slobbering on a smoked cow bone. Take your time choosing—at least 10 minutes, but whatever you decide, don’t let it be the news. The current political climate might have an adverse effect, and you’ll come home to a twitchy pup. All in all, the dog owner’s process of leaving the house can take anywhere between 15 minutes to 4 hours. And, seriously, if it’s the latter, by the time you’ve said goodbye, why bother?
Enjoying a meal can be a multi-layered consideration for a dog person. It starts with the prep. Food-motivated dogs clue-in the minute the refrigerator door opens. My two want to know what I’m making (does it include meat or cheese?) and if there might be something in it for them. We went vegetarian for a few months and they lost interest. But the minute we resumed our carnivorous habits, they resumed the vigil. That is, nose at my elbow to watch the food transfer from the refrigerator to cutting board. Then, poking around at the edge of the counter. Naturally, they are shooed away, but in a true dog lover’s tone, gently and tolerantly. They stay close by in case I might get careless and drop anything—a bit of cheese or a pork chop. The chance of this happening is non-existent—it’s usually an errant piece of raw carrot or onion that goes flying. I can’t imagine the waiting being worth the effort, but hey, I am not a dog. When the meal is done and served, the hope for a savory scrap is overwhelming, so while we try to enjoy the meal, they sit as close as we allow, drooling profusely and begging with their eyes. Tall dogs are harder to ignore, as those pleading eyes are visible from the table. You know the look: watery, dilated eyes, slightly furrowed brow, twitchy nose. Somehow, I think they know how much pull it has. This effort has been proven fruitful, because excepting spicy cuisine, we routinely save our two the last bite.
All of these examples come from the perspective of a true dog loving person, of which I plead guilty. I know this about myself and so does everyone around me. It’s obvious. When I see a person with a dog, I ask if it’s okay to pet them. I ask out of safety and to be polite, but I’m already posturing to greet a new friend. I want to meet that dog—see its tail wag and ruffle its fur. If I see a puppy, my need to interact is even more keen. I want to coo and coddle and smell its breath. I want to wallow in that age-old exchange of dog and human that leaves both feeling a little better about the world around us. And, you know what? I’m okay with that.