Dogs are Overrated

dogs are overrated

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During my time writing online, I’ve authored a few things that turned out to be way more controversial than I ever would’ve imagined. For example, I got a surprising amount of backlash for claiming lake houses are better than beach houses and found myself on the receiving end of an angry email from a 73-year-old man who shares an account with his wife who was not pleased with the assumptions I made about people who still drink tap water in this day and age.

I’m sure most of the people reading this are seething in anger based on the title that brought them here in the first place, which I knew was bound to rustle more than a few jimmies when I came up with it. I know I’m likely part of a very small minority, but as I type this atop the hill I’m prepared to die on, I can only hope it will resonate with the people on my side and make those who are already calling for my head to think twice. All I ask is that you hear me out because what I’m about to say is the truth (and as the late, great Patrice O’Neal once said, “You can’t fuck with the truth”): dogs are overrated.

There. I said it.

To any dogs reading this: it’s not your fault. It’s not that I don’t like you, but your owners, well…they kind of suck.

The world as a whole seems to have collectively agreed that anyone who doesn’t agree with the belief that “all dogs are amazing” should be shunned from polite society. There aren’t many people who’ve been brave enough to challenge that idea, but I am one of them and I’m prepared for the hurricane of rage I’ll inevitably find myself directly in the path of as a result of taking this stand.

Dogs, for the most part, are awesome, and I can understand why anyone who has one wants to shower their furry companion with as much unconditional love as they provide them with. However, just because you adore dogs does not mean everyone else does, which is a concept some owners have a hard time wrapping their mind around. They think, “Everyone loves dogs!” and assume when Spot jumps up on a random stranger during a walk, he should be given a pass for violating their personal space because he’s a dog and that’s just what dogs do.

No. That’s not how this works.

I have personally never seen a dog and found myself overcome with the overwhelming urge to pet it. Again, I know this puts me in a very small minority, but it’s the truth. Unfortunately, so many space-cadet owners are under the impression people like me simply don’t exist and see nothing wrong with forcing innocent bystanders to endure interactions they never asked for.

Again, I don’t not like dogs. I (like almost every person on the planet) have taken great joy in scrolling through the Instagram feeds of “cute doggos” when I’m looking for a boost to my happiness levels. Those virtual canines are the best things in the world and can pop into my feed whenever they please—primarily because I don’t have to deal with the drooling, shedding, and a variety of other things I’d prefer to consent to be subjected to before being exposed to them in real life.

Dogs have a lot in common with babies, especially when it comes to the fact that you’re essentially obligated to say you think 100% of them are cute, which is decidedly not the case. In reality, some dogs are unpleasant to look at (nevermind to actually interact with), but for some reason, I feel like I’m still expected to claim a hairless Chihuahua is the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen. In the end, I’m just saying that to make their owner feel better and get the exchange over with as quickly as possible. It puts people like me in a weird spot, as I know I’m exacerbating the problem by heaping praise upon a glorified, Dobby-looking rat, but everyone needs to come to their senses and bring this practice to an end. Love your dog all you want, but don’t be surprised when others don’t.

Owners need to face the reality that dogs can be very irritating to be around. They may be inherently hard to dislike, but if they suck for some reason or another, whoever’s in charge of holding the leash needs to realize it’s their responsibility to figure out a way to address the issue. Don’t make the rest of us have to deal with your inability to train an animal that has been successfully domesticated by countless humans for tens of thousands of years.

They say a dog is a man’s best friend and boy oh boy do they force that down our throats. Social media has distorted our view of the lives of others thanks to people who selectively post photos and updates to make their life seem more glamorous than it actually is and dogs have fallen victim to the same issue. Sure, a dog’s positive qualities might outweigh the negatives but—with the notable exception of the Dog Shaming Movement (which is really just a coping mechanism for owners who have to deal with shitty behavior)—most people aren’t highlighting the downsides of having one as a pet. They’ll post a picture of their pup smiling while conveniently cropping out the giant dump on the carpet that it was proudly beaming about, and as a result, our perception of the species has become increasingly skewed.

If you’re still seething over the overall thesis of this article, I’d like to present you with a few videos that might make you feel a bit better.

Cute, right? I mean, how can you not want a dog after seeing that last video? Congratulations; you now know what it’s like to fall victim to propaganda.

To circle back to the baby analogy, it’s virtually impossible to hate a puppy (even if it’s ugly as sin) or blame it for anything it does. However, while humans eventually reach a point where they’re expected to be held accountable for their actions, far too many dogs manage to skate through life without having to take any responsibility for their misdeeds.

A baby can be really cute, but if it goes up to be a serial killer, its lawyer is going to have a hard time using the “But Look How Adorable He Was” defense in court. It ultimately comes down to individuality, and despite what some people believe, dogs can do wrong. Again, they’re usually a victim of circumstance but there’s nothing about them that makes them universally and inherently good. Some people just suck, and guess what? Dogs can too!

Now, there are a couple of things I feel I should mention that I probably should’ve brought up earlier. First, my family has a dog (that I love) and I promise this is not a hit piece funded by a cabal of cats with an ax to grind. However, I am slightly allergic, and while I’m not “the kid in school who had to sit in another room at lunch because of his peanut allergy”-levels of averse, being around a dog that won’t stop shedding isn’t a particularly enjoyable experience for me.

However, as I’ve mentioned, my primary gripe isn’t really with dogs themselves but their owners and there’s no particular type I have more beef with than the people who treat their pet like a real, human child; the ones who constantly post pictures of their dog in carefully curated outfits and dress them up in multiple costumes every Halloween. At the risk of coming off like a parent that uses starving people in a foreign country to get their kid to finish their meal, the fact that there are dogs in America with a more expansive wardrobe than some actual children is absurd. 

I can understand the connection people have with their pets but your dog might not even like you as much as you think; in fact, there are studies out there that suggest your dog doesn’t actually give that much of a shit about you because their brain is designed to like basically anyone who will give them food and a comfortable place to chill.

At the end of the day, there’s no law against being a fucking weirdo and these people aren’t really hurting anyone; just like it’s your right to share a one-bedroom apartment with 13 cats who eat the same canned food as you do, you’re allowed to consider your dog a “child” if that’s what you want to do. Will I ever dress my dog up, put her in a stroller, or take a family photo with her? Of course not, but I love Coco (I know it’s an extremely cliché name, but that’s what you get when you let a 7-year-old girl choose). Will I be sad when she dies? Sure, but I’m not going to  spend the day crying while composing a 500-word Instagram post lamenting the loss of my “best friend.”

Did I just lose any favor I may have gained among people who came into this already hating my guts with that last sentence? Perhaps, but that’s just how I truly feel.

I briefly mentioned this above, but any owner who operates under the assumption everyone will like their dog is simply showing they lack the awareness that’s key when it comes to being liked by other people. If you invite someone into your home and expect them to be thrilled when a shedding, drooling mutt immediately pounces on them when they cross the threshold, don’t be shocked if they hate you even more than the dog you couldn’t be bothered to warn them about or attempt to contain.

Maybe I’m set off quicker because of my allergy, but not even bothering to try to restrain your dog before having someone over is one of the most annoying things in the world. The worst part is you can’t even hint at your displeasure because there’s a chance the owner will somehow look at you as the bad guy for suggesting their loyal companion isn’t as great as they’ve led themself to think, meaning you end up standing as still as you can in the doorway making idle chatter and pretending you’re not bothered by the dog sniffing your shoe, knowing it could snap at any moment.

Hell, there’s a chance you’ll still be viewed as an asshole if you don’t shower it with enough love and affection. “He just wants you to pet him.” Yeah, I know what he wants, and it’s the opposite of what I want. Also, if I do pet him, he’s just going to get more comfortable with me. If I had any say in the matter, he would be locked in his cage instead of licking my legs but somehow I’m the weird one for wanting that.

Being around a dog I don’t know for any amount of time is an absolute nightmare so it’s safe to say situations where I’m around one for an extended period are a living hell. There’s nothing worse than getting invited to watch football at the house of a friend of a friend only to spend the next few hours constantly keeping tabs on where the dog is and what it’s doing at all times as opposed to enjoying yourself. The worst part? They can definitely sense the uneasiness, which tends to only attract them to you even more in an attempt to gain your affection (even though it’s obvious its endgame is to just get some food out of you). The more you ignore it, the more it wants you to acknowledge it. It’s one of the worst catch-22s I’ve ever encountered.

While these scenarios are somewhat avoidable if you do your due diligence beforehand, the same can’t be said for going into public, as too many people think it’s cool or cute to bring their dog everywhere they go. I’m not just talking about strangers, as I have so-called “friends” who will arrive at a hangout with their dog in tow without any heads up and ruin everything in the process. Whether it’s lunatics on the street asking to pet the dog and the unbearable small talk that accompanies these interactions or having to literally keep it on a tight leash so it doesn’t randomly dart after a squirrel, the entire thing is a mess. It’s cool if I know what I’m getting myself into, but if that was the case, I’d have made up an excuse so I didn’t have to go home and wash my clothes seven times to get all of the hair out after.

Am I being too harsh on dog owners? I mean, probably, but at the same time, I feel like I’m not going hard enough. When there’s a problem that the majority of people won’t speak out against because of the potential backlash, there needs to be a loud voice from someone willing to fall on their sword like I’m doing right now. People are afraid to come clean about their feelings about dogs because it would be like coming out against pizza. Dogs are not pizza; they are not always good even when they’re bad. Therefore, I think this PSA is necessary. If you’re a dog owner who’s blind to the fact that your dog kind of sucks to be around (which, again, is on you), I hope this article wakes you up.

We treat dogs like we do accomplishments. You love your own, you’re proud of them, and want everyone to know, but for the most part, no one else really gives a fuck. Sure, acquiring a cute, small, playful dog or puppy is like winning the lottery—everyone suddenly loves you and wants to be around you—but when it comes to any other type, it’s kind of like graduating from college: it’s nice, but you’re not even close to the only person who’s done it so just shut up about it and do the work that’s expected of you.

For the last time, I like dogs. How can you not? They come into the world with a 28-3 lead, and while you could place the blame on them for blowing it, I’m always going to point the finger at the person who was tasked with setting them up for success. Sure, you can be mad at Matt Ryan for losing the Super Bowl, but when everything was said and done, he was only trying to do what his coach wanted him to. Don’t be a Dan Quinn, dog owners. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.