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I love dogs. Now, before some fanatical cat lover stiffens their ears (I am of course referring to their own ears, not those of their pet), or feels the strong urge to contradict me – at least in their heart of hearts – I would like to make one thing clear. I am entirely unwilling to become involved in the complex, never ending, emotionally explosive debate concerning the question of whether cats or dogs are the more ideal pets.

So, let me start again.

I love dogs …. on cushions, greeting cards, paintings, photographs, stickers, T-shirts, poetry albums … as emblems, or even as carnival costumes.

I value dogs and their abilities. They are of great use in their service for the blind, in various kinds of therapy, as drug hounds, as search dogs in case of emergencies, like earthquakes or avalanches. I particularly appreciate a St. Bernard with a liquor keg around its neck.

I can watch dogs for hours …. watching them through the window, as they run playfully through the grass, … or watching them on TV. As a child, I loved to watch “Lassie“ and then later on, “Inspector Rex.“
In exciting films, like “White Fang“ they held me captive, and in others, like “Hachiko“, they moved me to tears. “101 Dalmatians“ lifted my spirits to new heights. It was thoroughly delightful!

I admit it. Dogs are good for me. They strengthen my confidence. It makes me happy, just to look at them. Dachshunds have shorter legs than mine. Boxers loose points, because of their noses. The chinese Shar-Pei has more wrinkles than I do. I don´t drool very often, but if I do, its while I´m sleeping.

In addition, dogs make noises which I can imagine would only be appropriate for me at moments of utter ecstasy. In such a case, I would be totally ashamed of myself, that is, if I was capable of reflecting, at all. In order to go number one, they need to lift one leg … not exactly elegant. But then again, I don´t look any more elegant, pissing from a standing position.
Their little piles of number two usually look less appetizing than mine … or maybe they are just more on display.

The main problem that I have with them has to do with with face-to-face encounters … in which case, the first mistake – looking into the eyes of a dog – has already been made. Of course, it is not always easy to think of such rules of thumb when you are in the midst of a little crisis! … which brings me back to dogs, who are perfectly made for causing me little crises.

Sometimes I don´t even see them. I am strolling alongside a garden fence, enjoying the peacefulness of the moment. From out of nowhere comes the sudden, deafening, angry attack of a dog behind the fence, who is defending his right to cause me heart failure. Is that supposed to be the reason why people move away from that busy, loud city life and into the country? … so that they can be attacked every time they leave the front door by the neighbor´s watchdog? My pulse is racing, but my heart is incredibly thankful for fences!

Out in nature, things are different. While jogging, for example, Sparky is not required to be on a leash. Freedom, at last! That kind of freedom, however, can create all kinds of problems.

Unfortunately, I have logged quite a number of negative experiences with dogs. As I was a child, a high-spirited fox terrier jumped at me and wrestled me to the ground. In the process, I slammed the back of my head against the cobblestone street. Either I was traumatized by this high-energy expression of love, or part of my brain has been defective ever since, the part where experiences with dogs are stored.

My second experience had to do with Nero, the watch dog of some friends of ours, who were farmers. Nero loved to chase me around the courtyard of their farm in the Mostviertel. Sometimes he would chase me out of the kitchen, through the courtyard, past the huge manure pile, out the long driveway, to the left, through the vegetable garden, again to the left, through a flurry of fluttering chickens, and one last time to the left, past the well and the electric fence … until I reached my haven of rest, the back of the house, and was able to close the door of the country kitchen, right in front of the nose of that black stalker. That tradition is probably one of the main reasons, that I could sprint 100 meters faster than anyone else in my class. Nero? Well … he was put to sleep … not because he was slower than I was. He had bitten a few children who were not quite as fast as I was.

Sometimes it is not the four-legged creatures that bother me the most. The two-legged variety can also get on my nerves. I´ve heart it a million times: “He only wants to play with you.“

Oh, really? Well, I only want to jog. Do I have the same rights? And, for those who are interested, I think that I am old enough to select my own playmates … thank you! But, maybe you just confused me with one of his toys. Anyone can make a mistake.

Winner number two is: “He won´t bother you.“ That doesn´t actually relax me very much, at all. It is so ridiculous! How often do you enter a shop, for example, and inform the sales person about what you are not going to do? Listen to this sentence: “Don´t worry … I don´t steal. Or how about … “I am not going to vomit on your carpet.“ Here´s a good one: “I am not going to bother you with idiotic questions or impossible requests.“ Now, let´s be honest … How many sales people are not going to become just a little bit suspicious when approached in that manner?

That is exactly the way I feel about dog owners of either gender who seem to think that their dog is perfect and try to convince me of the same. If Spot isn´t going to do anything wrong anyway, why all the wasted time and effort, trying to convince me of the obvious? The truth is, he is probably already doing something wrong, at that exact moment.

He is panting as if her were dying, wiping his damp nose and its contents on my jogging suit (or even better, if the weather is nice, on my naked calf). He excitedly sniffs around my bottom, which is strictly reserved for those to whom I have given my approval. He jumps at me, nearly knocking me down, and is sure to leave his signature behind … his earthy paw prints on my sparkling white jogging top. Thank you!

Dogs are often depicted as man´s best friend. Firstly, this statement could easily be seen as an indirect insult for all cat lovers.
Secondly, having already mentioned quite a convincing list of drawbacks … Don´t you feel a bit concerned about the social skills of the person willing to make such a statement?

Besides, let´s be fair to both sides. I would like to know if any four-legged creature that speaks canine would classify their owner – be it a he or a she ¬ as their best friend!

When I see an extremely overweight dog, which has gorged itself to the point that it actually resembles a small pig, tagging along behind its huge owner, who actually looks more like a large pig than a human being, I have my doubts.

And then, there are the dogs which have been dressed up like dolls. Now, aren´t they cute! Pink ribbons holding on for dear life, trite accessories which match their owner´s apparel, glow-in-the-dark booties … The list goes on and on. Then there are the tote dogs, living hair dresser experiments, carried around in the appropriate tote bags.
Do they think of their owners as their best friends? (I think that the only reason they haven´t run away is because they are drugged!)

For myself … I have come to realize that I do not necessarily need a dog.
I have a HUSBAND. He also stays right by my side and looses some of his hair in bed. He also has been known to make strange, undefinable noises, at times. None the less, he expects me to place his food and treats directly in front of his nose. He barks at me when he disagrees with something that I did or did not do, and looks at me with warm, loving eyes when he needs praise or encouragement. I am not exactly sure whether he knows how to bring me my slippers or the paper, yet, so that gives us something to work on.