A long time ago, I used to think I was a likable person. While not overly concerned with popularity, I did get a warm feeling in my chest when people lit up with recognition and smiled back when I waved at them. Sometimes they remembered my name and then the world was a beautiful place.
But all that changed when I got an Italian Greyhound for Christmas.
A 7 month-old rescue pup, he was the earthly love of my life. Smart as a whip, beautiful as a sculpture and mischievous as a demon. But perhaps his most winning trait was his unabashed friendliness towards strangers.
During the next few years, I was rapidly brought up to speed as to what exactly my role as his human entailed. It was nothing like I expected. And as much as I loved and was proud of him, I was a little shocked to discover some of those job details. Come to find out, my experiences as Pippin’s Person was hardly unique. There are in fact some universal truths to dog ownership.
People Remember Your Dog More than You
When you regularly take your dog to local events, the people you meet always remember him. They remember his name, his age, his health history, what treats he likes best and what rescue or breeder you got him from. They greet him all the way across the parking lot with smiles and shrill piping of his name. Dropping down to his level and wrapping their arms around him, they coo over how adorable he is and how sweet he is, while he lavishes kisses all over their face. Then if you’re lucky, they look up at you and remember to say hello.
But then you try going to the same event without your dog. You pass by the people you thought you connected with over your dog. You wave and watch as they hesitantly wave back, a fake smile plastered on their face, eyes confused and struggling to place you in their memories.
Your stomach flops and you stop and wonder if you did something to make them hate you. Biting your lip, you go back over your last interactions with them and try to recall if you said something insulting. Did you run down all bagged dog food? Laud the productivity of a three-day kill shelter? Diss PETA? As you stare down at your empty, sweaty hands, desperately trying to remember… It hits you.
It has nothing to do with your socials skills.
You are alone today.
Your dog is not here.
And they don’t remember you.
You are irrelevant without your dog.
Whether or not that’s better than having dissed PETA in front of dog lovers is up to individual interpretation.
People Think Your Dog is Cuter than You
You share a ton of awesome photos on your Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Your dinners are drool-worthy, your vacations enviable and your selfies prove you have style that Kim K would die for. Your swag is beyond compare. 21 likes, 3 retweets and 6 comments remind you just how adorable you really are. Internet fame does not lie.
Of course, since you’re a good doggy parent, your baby will make her way onto your social media at least once. Probably more like once a day, actually, depending on your level of social media addiction.
And what happens when darling puppy splashes over your profiles?
1081 likes, 763 retweets and 97 comments gush over the beauty of your dog.
Internet fame does not lie.
People are a Lot Nicer to Your Dog than to You
Your neighbor gripes about your unkempt lawn (there aren’t that many weeds), your dinner parties (the music wasn’t that loud!) and your kids (they don’t even go in his yard once a day). It’s become the soundtrack of your outdoor existence. You’ve learned to block it out.
But then your dog escapes the backyard. When you stepped out onto the porch and realized he was not there, your heart sank. Because you knew exactly where your dirt-loving dog was.
When you scramble over with leash in hand to recapture your wayward pup, you find him digging furiously in the neighbor’s new flowerbeds. Beside him, smiling and patting his back, is your neighbor.
As soon as he catches sight of you, the smile is gone and a glare replaces it. It’s your fault the dog got out. You need to fix your fence. Clearly you don’t give the dog enough attention. You need to teach your dog to engage in less destructive behaviors. Blah blah blah blah.
He might be right, of course. But he’s standing there, yelling at you, while petting your happy puppy nonstop.
Compassion for the dog. None for you.
Funny how that works.
People don’t Really Care About You at all
Maybe it’s the sparkly eyes. Maybe the four paws. Maybe the waggly tail. Maybe the squeezable ears. Whatever it is, at the end of the day, most people care more about your dog than they do you.
But you know what?
He is memorable. He is adorable. He is the sweetest, most beautiful thing in the world.
And I too care more about him than I do myself.
So I guess we’re all on the same page after all.