With a week to go until Halloween now seems like as good a time as any to go on my annual rant about how and why your dog(s) suck: YOU. You are the reason they jump on people, dart at other animals, chew up your furniture, nip at your children, eat the garbage, and all of the other things you like to blame your dogs for. Truth be told, YOU are the problem, but God forbid you acknowledge that.
Over the next many days, millions of American idiots will think it’s oh so adorable to dress their dogs up as pumpkins, reindeer, and God knows what else because it’s “so damn cute.” In fact, as many as 83% of those who own pets this Halloween will put some asinine costume on them so that they can share it on their Facebook page and be told how adorable their fur baby is.
A simple Google search entitled “dogs hate costumes,” will reap you endless images of dogs looking absolutely miserable and mortified while being made to look like ladybugs, bananas and the State of Liberty. Further, there are endless reams of research from dog experts discussing that we know, for a fact, that dogs are both intuitive and empathetic and absolutely feel embarrassment. In fact, those of us who own, train, and love dogs know that perhaps the greatest tool at our disposal is to simply make a dog “feel” bad. No dog likes to be shamed, and there is little more shaming than being dressed in a tutu.
Want more proof? Look no further than the look on a dog’s face and the depressing demeanor he exhibits when forced to wear what we widely call the “cone of shame,” a medical device used to keep the dog from licking places he shouldn’t, usually after a surgical procedure. The dog is not upset he can’t lick, the dog is upset that he looks like a living room lamp. How in the world do we all understand that and say things like “I hate the cone,” but we then justify putting a Pope costume on the very same dog? Oh yeah, he really loves THAT hat. Idiots.
The bond between a dog and its human(s) comes down to one very basic principle; trust. Done properly, your dog will give you undying loyalty, protection, affection and companionship. This is done is return for the obvious basics of being fed, warm, well taken care of and played with. However, that bond of trust is broken the minute you make your dog look like Captain America. Dressing your dog up like a superhero is nothing like putting a vest on a Chihuahua for warmth or a weight pack on a Rottweiler for stamina training. They know it, and sadly most of you don’t.
I am the first person to rail against “humanizing,” our animals. We have to be careful to not give them too many features, qualities, or emotions that they simply can’t possess. However, we know that the smartest dogs amongst us have the IQ of about a 3 to 5 year-old human being (depending on how dumb your kid is). We know from endless research that dogs feel on a multitude of levels. We know that they possess talents and qualities we still can’t quite explain, including being able to detect cancer in their humans’ before we do. Why, then, would we not show them the love and respect they deserve?
And if you must, take all research and science out of it. Do you know why your dog cowers in fear and flops his ears back and looks at like you like he hates you when you put that bumble bee costume on him? Because he does. Because you have violated the trust. It’s no different than you comedic geniuses who think it’s oh-so-funny to pretend to throw the ball without actually throwing it, just to see how far your dog will run and how he’ll react to there being no ball. My only hope and wish is that your dog will make the same decision the one day you need him…and he’ll decide I’m going to sit back and pretend I’m not here while this burglar breaks into my house.
The sad truth, of course, is that no dog will do that because they are far better creatures than humans. They are unyieldingly loyal to the end. They are brave and strong, and even if they’re 8 pounds, no one has told them that they can’t do whatever job they think is necessary in the moment. We could learn a lot from them, but because we are arrogant, ignorant human beings who simply demand we’re at the top of the food chain and that’s all that matters, we learn nothing. And so instead we dress them up like Abe Lincoln, post it on Social Media and laugh our stupid faces off. My greatest wish is that it turns out that God is actually a dog. I’ll have a seat heaven’s table. Will you?