Culture of Dog

Most people I know have a dog, and it seems to have become part of the culture of family life today. Contrary to what one of my neighbours thinks, I don’t hate dogs – I actually like them quite a bit, and there are a few that I am awfully fond of (Hi Logan! Hi Max!) But I have to confess that I just don’t get dog ownership. I see families in our neighbourhood whose children are starting to get bigger and more independent, and then, just as the parents are getting their freedom back, they buy a puppy. All of a sudden the parents are back to being tied to home again. They have to get home to feed the dog, or walk the dog, or let the dog out, or whatever else it is that dogs need. It’s like they are back to having an infant or toddler in the house, except this one will never grow up. Honestly, I am a bit baffled by it.

I used to work with a someone in his mid twenties, who last year lived in an apartment downtown with his girlfriend. They could both walk to work in under 15 minutes. They recently bought a house out in the country, and now their commute is over an hour each way. And they have just gotten a puppy too. Now, instead of staying downtown after work or going out somewhere, they have to get home for the dog. When I was in my twenties and I lived in an apartment downtown with Tony, we walked everywhere, including to the Market several times each week. We had no need of a car, and we were free to come and go and do as we pleased (except of course for all of that grad school work and lack of money, ha). We still had a lot of fun at the time though and I just cannot relate to wanting to be tied down to a pet at such an early age.

Now I need to confess to you that I am incredibly allergic to dogs and cats. This is not just an inconvenient snuffle or eye itching. I have about 10 minutes in a house with a cat before I am in distress. I get about half an hour with a furry dog, and about an hour with the kinds of dogs that people call hypo-allergenic. If I go to a movie or a play, I need to take an antihistamine before I go because of the pet fur that people are carrying with them on their clothing.

I have been accused of depriving my children for not letting them have a pet. People look at me skeptically when I say I’m too allergic to have one, and also when I turn down invitations to their homes because they own a pet. I know that I could do allergy shots, but it would take years and years, and honestly I don’t believe in changing my immune system for the sake of pets. I really am not motivated to do this. I truly enjoy being pet-free and having one fewer inhabitant of our home who needs care from me. I feel like I am busy enough.

But since everyone has a dog these days, our neighbours all around us have them too. We get to enjoy these dogs and spend time with them, and then let them go home afterwards. It’s kind of like being a grandparent to all of the little critters in our neighbourhood, and that is all right by me.

About Finola

I am an Ottawa area Mom, writer-want-to-be and coffee legend in the making.
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8 Responses to Culture of Dog

  1. gryph says:

    I keep waffling about a dog. I totally understand your points about being tied down, but I've had pets my entire life (luckily not allergic) and I do like dogs, especially big stupid ones. But I feel like I'm such a bad cat momma when B puts her face down on the floor and looks pouty as I'm heading out the door to go to work… Perhaps I'm not ready for a pup. 😛

  2. When you have young kids, you have to be home early every night for dinner anyways, so adding a dog to the mix seems like a no-brainer to me. Our dilemma is holidays … because we take long ones and dogs are not always welcome. But I still keep thinking of getting one anyhow. I just love having a dog in my house!

    As for young couples getting a dog and couples with older children getting dogs – I think it's a total emotional thing. We had a dog for 5 years before we had children … I body felt baby-crazy but my mind didn't want a baby yet — so I got a dog. Cuddly, and a lot less work. 🙂

  3. D. Gillespie says:


    You are not alone. I am sooooo… on the same page as you.

    I grew up with big dogs. Loved running them. Hated having them in my face.

    My dad is really strict with his animals and so the dogs I grew up with were really well behaved, but I have no desire to get one.

    I know how much work they are – my dad has always walked the dogs at least an hour a day. They cost money – my parents have to kennel the dog while they are gone for a month. And…they like rolling in dead things they find at the park.

    But, as I said above, there is nothing like going for a run with a trusty dog by your side as long as it's someone else's.

  4. Finola says:

    Jen – That's a great comment about being out of the house all day, which I hadn't touched on. Maybe another cat??

    Julie – Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I realize that I am in the minority with my opinions on this one. Perhaps because I never had pets growing up, I have never felt that emotional pull. But I do understand the affection for pets.

    Darcie – I would love a dog for company when running too. Hmm, will have to explore if any of my favourites around the 'hood like to run. And you have even more reason than me not to want any more beings to care for, what with all of your kids and twins and such 🙂

  5. I understand all your points Finola. Now that our children are older, we are considering adding a dog to our family. It does coincide with gaining freedom…but it is more about the kids being old enough to care for an animal and treat it properly. We grew up with pets and miss having a dog in our life and our kids are crazy about animals. It is a huge decision…so we are giving it a lot of thought.

  6. Finola says:

    Laura – I really respect families who take the time to research, train, and take good care of pets. And I agree, it is a great learning experience for kids.

  7. XUP says:

    We have a cat, but only because the child was so desperate for a pet and I'd already deprived her of a father and siblings and most of her extended family, so I gave in. I like the cat sort of and he's not as much trouble as a dog, but if something happens to him, I would absolutely not replace him. He does need to be fed at least twice a day and he gets lonely when we're away so I always have to pay a sitter for him. It's ridiculous. And the child? Has nothing to do with the cat ever. I do it all. The cat doesn't even like her. Sigh…

  8. Finola says:

    Xup – You had a great motive for getting the cat in the first place. Too bad they didn't bond as you planned….too funny though 🙂

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