not a dog’s chance



My husband has already named our dogs. Dogs that we do not have in our possession. Dogs that may enter our lives from a rescue shelter in some distant, unknowable future to be fed and walked and loved like the children we don’t have, either. There’s Geoffrey and Gremlin. In time, there will be more. And in case I forget, Chris has an extremely grating habit of calling every dog or furry creature we encounter ‘Geoffrey’.

I’d like to think it’s not just his joy in metaphoric­ally pulling my pigtails that motivates this, but a part of me wonders. You see, I’m not a ‘dog person’. I don’t slow down to pat a stranger’s pet. I don’t favourite friends’ selfies with their fur babies. I might see a puppy and think it’s sort of cute, but I don’t squeal about it at decibels only they can hear. I respect dogs from a distance, and hope that when they trot around me they won’t lick my feet or, as was once the case, pummel into me and knock me down while I’m trying to exercise.

For most of my life, when it comes to dogs, I’ve wavered between curiosity and indifferen­ce. This obviously grows more difficult the more Geoffreys we encounter. “Look at the pooch!” Chris will say in a voice usually reserved for cute babies, before throwing me a look of barely concealed judgment. And frankly, I’m tired of it. Whenever someone says to me, “You’re not a dog person,” it’s with the same sympatheti­c head tilt I used to get when they thought I’d be eternally single. Like there’s something missing from my life. Or they send me a harsher look that teeters towards, “You’re a subhuman, unfeeling creature.”

However, just like great loves, canine partnershi­ps are not for everyone. Maybe it’s because I have an aversion to people treating dogs like fellow humans. I can’t look at photos of dogs dressed in suits without shivering, and dogs used as accessorie­s also give me the creeps. But then again, maybe I was just born this way.

Of course, I’m not heartless. It’s not that I don’t care for or like animals. I had a cat named Samson once with whom I got along famously for many years, until he started shitting on the carpet in the same spot over and over again. And I’m not completely against dogs. I admit that sometimes they’re kind of cute – some of them even seem affectiona­te.

Truthfully, the coordinate­s are shifting ever so slightly. This slow tilt first began when I moved next door to a dainty dachshund which had an attitude of ‘kiss the ring’ I found rather amusing. She would pee in the spot Chris parked his bicycle to mark the territory on his behalf, like some fierce, pint-sized bodyguard. When we returned from a month-long holiday, she leapt towards me excitedly, but when she first encountere­d Chris, she literally peed from excitement. On another occasion, Chris was tasked with walking his best mate’s dog. Somehow the leash ended up in my hands. I reluctantl­y conceded that the dog, with his enthusiast­ic trot and beseeching eyes, moved me a little. My husband continues to hold this over me. “You liked walking him, admit it,” he says, like he’s trying to get me to confess to a petty crime.

Chris doesn’t understand my reticence. He shakes his head, mystified that I don’t think dogs are the greatest thing ever, better than humans. Look, I can’t disagree with that completely – a lot of them are kind of sweet, even if they are ridiculous­ly needy. They’re probably a whole lot nicer than a lot of humans. But – and I’ve put this down to some unknowable respect for the animal kingdom – I’m just not a dog person.

Also, I’m allergic.

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