I should preface this by saying I’m lucky that I’m not a cat person.
I’ve been on the Internet. I’ve see how women who like to watch Netflix with their cat are treated. Don’t even get me started on single women who have — God forbid — more than one cat. Apparently they’ve boarded the express train to Shrew-ville and no one is going to meet them there. Except maybe this lady.
I acknowledge that being a Crazy Dog Lady has nowhere near the same negative connotations as a Crazy Cat Lady. Nevertheless, people still imply that having a dog as a single woman is a sign that you’ve given up.
As a single woman with a dog, I take issue with that.
Before adopting my dog, being a sassy singleton meant that I was living my truth as a modern woman! I could have it all! Even if I technically didn’t have it all! I was KILLING it!
Once I got a dog, people began to make a lot of assumptions about why I am riding solo (you know, without a human partner). Most come to the conclusion that I haven’t taken a full-time lover because my dog is filling the role of my boyfriend. Somehow, I cast my Cockapoo as the leading man’s understudy in the dismal romantic comedy that is my life.
But I didn’t do that. I love my dog very, very much, but I don’t love him like that. No matter how good he looks in a suit.
An incident from earlier today sheds useful perspective on my point. Sometime just short of 4:00 a.m., my dog regurgitated what must have been an entire meadow of grass next to my bed. I scooped him up and rushed him outside, sporting a half-open bathrobe and two different sandals. After pacing outside for 20 minutes with zero action — other than an uncomfortably friendly hello from the man at the 24-hour bodega — we went back inside, where my dog slumbered between my feet and released exceedingly ominous farts.
This morning, his impressive diarrhea necessitated a quick bath before my arrival to work 45 minutes late.
I mention this episode to say that if this is what it means to have a boyfriend these days, then thank God I am single. I’m just a girl looking for a human boy — preferably one who knows that eating a used chicken wing off of the sidewalk is a bad idea.
You don’t need to know how long it’s been since my last boyfriend, but let’s just say there are kids that were born since then that may or may not be speaking in full sentences today. I’m not a pediatrician; I don’t know the developmental trajectories of children. (Fine, it’s been three years, okay?) In that time, I adopted a sweet angel nugget of a dog. My life has undoubtedly changed since then — but so has society’s perception of my singledom.
Being chronically unattached is not the kind of thing that generally bothers me, but we’ve all been that girl who drank too much sangria while watching anything starring Drew Barrymore. If that girl is calling you on a Friday night to ask if she will ever find love, and you can hear Never Been Kissed and the unwrapping of a third burrito in the background, maybe don’t tell her that her dog is basically her boyfriend.
Because it puts that girl in a very dark place. Especially when she looks over and her dog is licking his phantom balls, and she can’t remember the last time she saw any real ones either.
Look, I’ll admit it. Sometimes my dog does play the part of a significant other. Whenever I am invited to hang out, I ask if it would be okay for him to tag along. I don’t stay out late because I look forward to coming home and snuggling him. Also he needs to pee. I trained him to high-five whenever I say “Yay!” so we can always celebrate when one of us nails it. One time, he burped in my face and then kissed me on the cheek. So, yes he can be a lot like a boyfriend.
That does not mean there is no room for a human version. This may sound crazy, but I am not looking to spend the rest of my days with a special someone who expects me to clean up their shit. Their literal shit. I’ve trimmed my dog’s butthole hairs because they were caked in poop. Literally, WHO does that for a boyfriend? (And if you know, I don’t want to know.)
In the future, I’d like my partner to contribute something to the household finances — you know, help put that kibble on the table. It’s no secret that pet deposits aren’t cheap.
Yes, I love a good listener, but someone who talks back can be nice as well. Someone who doesn’t paw at the bathroom when he knows it’s occupied. Someone who I end up encouraging to follow me into said bathroom to avoid said pawing. Someone who doesn’t scoot their ass on my carpet, or ugly cry every time I leave the house. And, hey, maybe someone who weighs over 30 lbs.
My dog brings a wealth of love into my life. But it is certainly not romantic love and, at the end of the day, Mommy has needs. The only place I’m putting peanut butter is on a slice of toast, if you catch my drift.
So, no, my dog is not my boyfriend. And my life is not a macabre parody of Must Love Dogs. I just live by a strict principle of “pooches before douches,” and I will not settle for anything less than the human equivalent of Best in Show.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to watch Unlikely Animal Friends with my constant canine companion.
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