Chicago has officially stripped every ounce of “dog person” from my soul.
For those of you who don’t live in Chicago, you may not be aware that this place is absolutely teeming with dogs. Every trixie with a 300-square-foot sky-rise condo or family of seventeen living in a three-bedroom garden level feels the need to cram a mastiff or at least a greyhound in their cramped abodes. One could say that the city is literally filthy with dogs. Just take a stroll on a fine spring day and you’ll be privy to the delicate stench of ten million potty breaks melting on top of salt-encrusted snow.
But it’s not the dogs’ fault. Like my occasional gripes about miniature humans, this has more to do with inattentive keepers than anything else. For example:
On my morning run today, I encountered a man running toward me, flanked by two sweet-looking golden retrievers. As dog walkers/runners often do, he was taking up the whole sidewalk. I foresaw a conflict of interests and graciously stepped aside, onto a neighbor’s walkway. Faaar away from the sidewalk. One of the man’s dogs lunged for me, barking ravenously.
I screamed bloody murder.
[Remember, this is a golden retriever. One of the most people-loving, mild-tempered dogs you can get. Want a dog but happen to live with a hissy cat, seven special-needs kids under the age of five and your ninety-year-old grandmother? Get a golden, dude.]
After I screamed, I might have yelled something like “Jesus. Asshole!” Which doesn’t make any sense really, but sounds like something I might say. Not that this had any effect on Mr. Jesus Asshole.
And then I felt it leave me like a once-soothing misconception dashed by the sudden flood of cold, beautiful facts.
I am no longer a dog person.
I wasn’t always this way. I grew up with a dog: Misha, the Siberian husky. I, like all other dog owner people, would insist that my dog was the best one, with a unique personality all her own. I still think that to this day. I’m just not a dog person anymore.
My friends and family have dogs. I’ll still hang out with them. I’ll still pet and maybe even snuggle their dogs. But that’s because I happen to like and trust my friends and family members. I’m not intrinsically drawn to their dogs any more than I am their couches or hobbies.
I simply no longer believe that people and dogs are uniquely suited to each other. “Mans’ best friend” my ass. In fact, I propose that we replace in “dog” in the pantheon of anthropomorphizing pedestal placement with the pig. At least in Chicago. After all, pigs are reportedly smarter, cleaner and more sociable than dogs. Plus, they brought unionization to this fair town. And everyone knows the best Chicago dogs are made of pork anyway.
At least pigs aren’t constantly assaulting me as I attempt to navigate from place to place. It’s bad enough that this tiny pedestrian has to dodge traffic-crazed drivers and smartphone-addicted zombies zigzagging along the sidewalk. But I also have to contend with dog owners who see no need to even hold on to their pets’ leashes:
“Oh, don’t dare look askance in this direction. Molly here is the sweetest li’l pup ever. Wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
“Listen buddy, I don’t care if your dog is blind, deaf and toothless. If I only got out of the house for five minutes a day, I would be looking for the first opportunity to wreak some havoc.”
Maybe it’s the “curb your dog” language you see all over town. Curb..? What does that even mean? dog owners across the city wonder in unison.
So if you’re passing this paranoid pedestrian on the street with your pup in tow, just do that internationally-recognized thing where you pull the leash taut and gimme a “hey, I’m here to make sure this thing doesn’t eat you” smile. You know, that thing that Chicago dog owners do not seem to have any concept of?
And then maybe, when I’m mayor of this crumbling burgh, I’ll let you keep your dog, along with all the rest of my crazy, dog-loving friends. After all, I’m not here to judge. Just to keep my extremities from being turned to bloody, rabies-infested ribbons. Cheers!