For many many years, I had this thing. I’d stop anyone, and I mean literally anyone, who was walking a dog, and say to them, “That’s a beautiful dog.” I would say this to dogs of all shapes and sizes, and dogs that I truly found beautiful, and others that I more wanted to pick up and kick across the street.
I did it because it brought a little bit of joy to the dog-owner, and I loved the excitement in their face as they thanked me and started to fawn all over their dog. And at the time I didn’t own a dog, and so it was nice to be able to share the love of dogs a bit.
So now I’m in a dilemma. I am a dog owner. I have an adorable English bulldog puppy who just turned 4 months old. He is literally the cutest thing ever. (See picture on left for proof, and check out his blog for even more proof.) And now I walk him, and get stopped all the time by people who give him hugs, and pet him, and basically worship him for about 20 seconds. And I love that. That’s not the dilemma.
The dilemma is that many of the people who stop to play with Augustus also have their own dog, and the two dogs sniff each other’s butts for a little while. All the while, the other dog’s owner is very likely saying “oh my god what a cute puppy,” yada yada yada.
This is the dilemma. I love the praise, but I feel that I need to reciprocate it. And the truth of the matter is, now that I have a dog of my own, it is much more difficult for me to be sincere when I tell people that their dog is beautiful. In fact, it’s hard for me to even say it in the first place in most cases. If I thought their dog was beautiful, I would have gotten a dog of that breed. But I didn’t. I got an English bulldog, because I like that breed the best. And in fact, the raggedy, tear-stained white shaggy dog that weighs 6 pounds that is smelling Augustus and basically looking like a pathetic lump of crap compared to my beautiful puppy absolutely does not deserve to be called beautiful at all, or anything close to that, but should instead be wrung out and shaken around for being such an annoying little yelping dog that freaks out about anything and doesn’t know how to be nice to a puppy. That’s not beautiful, that makes me want to throw it in the ocean. But their owner is freaking out about my puppy, “he’s so cute” this, and “best looking bulldog I’ve ever seen” that. All of which is true. So if I’m going to speak the truth, I gotta say “get your ugly ass dog away from my puppy right now, he’s getting uglier by just being near your dog.” Which of course I don’t. But I also don’t call it beautiful, not anymore.
So if our dogs ever meet on the streets, know that if I say so, I really do think your dog is a beautiful dog. But probably not as beautiful as my dog.