A comment a (vague) friend had made about me at a recent gathering slipped into my knowledge the other day, cooling my heart temporarily into a little block of ice. A lot of peoples’ lives revolve around their children and a life without children may well be unthinkable to them, I get that, it’s perfectly normal. But there are other normals too. And that someone should pass such judgement about something of which they know less than nothing? It wouldn’t have occurred to me to think it strange or laughable that adults should want to willingly share their homes with babies, children, teenagers, young adults – yet frankly, when I think about it, there could be seen to be plenty of ‘strange’ in it. The reservations (let’s call them reservations) some people have about dogs – presumably things like dirt, dog hair, the risk of barking, non human-ness – seem trivial by comparison, quite honestly.
This friend has no concept of the joy my dogs both bring to me, how much I enjoy their company, a joy that billions of dogs bring to billions of people around the world. That this friend does not ‘get’ it reflects more on her and on people like her than on those billions, in my opinion. This friend is irritated by the ‘doggie mums’ at the school gates – the easy friendship between them, a clique of which she is not a part. This friend is convinced of the superiority of humans over all other species. This friend does not like how much I love dogs, it unnerves her, she cannot relate to it, so ( / and?) she mocks it. I guess I find it strange, sad that one person should find another’s love laughable. But then in 2019 we all like to judge, don’t we.
My strength of feeling on the subject seems to be necessitating recently that I psychologically divorce myself from people who feel too differently on the subject, or at least from those who aren’t smart enough to deftly avoid discussion about it. I feel a growing estrangement for anyone who doesn’t get the point of dogs, and of animals in general. I can’t help it. The older I get the more I am drawn to a different tribe, one I was always part of. Small children who are in turns enraptured and instinctively devastated when taken to a zoo, mothers of babies and pitbulls, metal working carers of injured opossums (@hollywoof that’s you), beautiful Pakistani film stars who have compassion for every living being that inhabits the earth (@hirahussain, that’s you), brave young people advocating for (even large! imagine!) canines’ rights and quality of life in London (@thelondog and @wolfdog_of_london in particular), celebrities who are not scared to wear their love for their dogs on their sleeves and even write books about them (@spicerlife springs to mind because I read her book recently), people who foster children and animals in their homes and change the paths of their lives irrevocably – people who like to give back, people who pick up the pieces and look to help those outside their own blood (@carolinehartleybrown).
I guess I never was that conventional and not being blessed with children has only exacerbated that, not that am sorry. I could have been mother of humans, goats and mongrels, but in the absence of human offspring springs a wealth of love and dedication I might not otherwise have had the energy or resources to tap. I am grateful.
PS Barack Obama loves dogs. Trump is the first President in 100 years to not have a dog resident at the White House. I can’t help feeling that this is somehow relevant.