A Man and His Dog

“Well, Charlie, I don’t think she’s gonna call us back.”

He doesn’t respond. I’ve come to realize that Charlie doesn’t care about my relationship woes – or any of my woes, for that matter. I’m not sure if he wants me to learn from his (mostly) silent stoicism, or if he’s just a dick. Either way, he stares blankly at me as he stretches, and further sinks into the couch.

“You know you’re not allowed on the couch.” Not that he ever listens to me.

Charlie is a dog, just so we’re clear. I would never vent to my friends regarding my myriad first world problems, for fear of judgment or ridicule. Charlie relies on me for food and pooping, so I don’t particularly care what he thinks about me. If he learns to talk, and uses his first spoken words to call me a spineless beta-male, I’ll stop giving him the wet food he holds so dear. Anthropomorphic pick-up artists get no treats in this household.

I’ve always found people’s tendencies to talk to their pets fascinating – myself included. What do we expect from them? The intellectual and social stimulation from cooing at your cat is comparable to asking your toaster how it feels about solar power, yet here we are. If I didn’t have a mild gambling addiction, I’d wager that more people on the internet watch videos of animals being animals than pay attention to what sick experiments the lizard people are performing on unsuspecting bystanders.

For all the modern relationship ideals that are popular nowadays, owning a pet seems to be a step backwards. No one in their right mind would stay in a relationship where one party needs the other for literally every facet of their well-being, and gives nothing in return but stank breath-kisses and sometimes putting their head in your lap. If your boyfriend took a twosie on the sidewalk, would you pat his head and dub him the best boy as you scooped it into a newspaper bag? No. Well, if yes, you are in high demand on FetLife. Not that I’d know or anything.

If you’re into science, you might say our fondness for cats and dogs is due to a similar facial structure to an infant’s. Those neurological acrobatics don’t account for those of us who have special relationships with reptiles. True, some kids unfortunately look  like turtles, but that’s the exception to the rule.

So what is it? Do we want to feel needed? To have control over another being to assert our supremacy as humans? Is having a furry friend something with grand psychological implications or just another unique aspect of being a person, like social media, or wiping after the bathroom?

In the end, it doesn’t matter. Someone could publish a study linking dog ownership with being literally Hitler, and we’d have millions of willing Nazis walking their companions twice a day. We love our pets, and they (presumably) love us back. Love’s enough reason for almost anything.

Feature photo by Ryan McGuire/ VIA Gratisography