Midlife Cabernet: Don't Expect Me to Pet Your Dog

I have a profound fear of dogs because they always chased and bit me as I frantically rode my bike delivering the daily newspaper when I was 12 years old. Yesterday I parked next to a car and suddenly two huge dogs in the next car shoved their shaggy heads out of the open window and ferociously barked at me, their ragged teeth just inches from my face. I want the owner to pay for my dry cleaning bill.

At the risk of receiving hate mail from those who love, eat, and sleep with their pets, I’d like to meekly suggest that some of us aren’t enamored with them. I don’t fuss over pampered puppies packed into personalized purses. I won’t stop to gush over the yipping, half-crazed, sweater-wearing bundles of barking hairballs. And, I refuse to be pressured to sit next to an animal caged in an airline carrier. No offense, but I don’t think it’s cute.

According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans spend more than $60 billion annually on their pets. Obviously, millions of people love their furry critters and they have a right to do that. But it’s also okay for those of us who prefer to take a walk without needing to carry a bag full of steaming poop.

A few caveats: I loved my horse and spent countless wonderful hours of freedom while riding her. But, I didn’t sleep with her and she wasn’t allowed inside the house. During my childhood, we had cats that worked as mousers in the barn and dogs that helped herd cattle and act as guard dogs – they lived outside in clean, protected dog houses. The only pets I own are Koi fish, and they are conveniently hibernating for the winter – outside.

Some more caveats: I appreciate service dogs and don’t mind them in my house. I also recognize that many single and older people enjoy the companionship of a loving pet. Most of my friends have pets in their homes, and that’s just great but I cringe every time their baby gets licked in the face. And, I’ve heard all the comments about the cleanliness of the dog’s mouth, but I’ve seen what the dog licks before it licks a child.

Occasionally I have terrifying flashbacks of the big dogs that used to bite me every day on my paper route. I probably broke several speed records as I peddled faster, faster. So, please understand why I don’t care if you have domesticated animals. Just don’t expect me to pet them. 



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