Friday, January 31, 2020


JR was my uncle’s Dachshund, an adorable little brown hot dog—who bit me on the mouth. At just four years of age, that was to be my first of many unfortunate canine encounters.

A high-school friend’s West Highland White Terrier, Rudy, would go one hundred percent berserk when I came over. If we wanted to hang out there, her parents had to physically restrain Rudy—an otherwise lovely animal—until we escaped to the basement rec room. Even then, he would pace and snarl along the other side of the door for the entire visit, and remember: dog time is seven times ours, so that pooch had some committed animosity for me.

During college, there was Cinnamon. Such a sweet name for such a sweet-looking white-and-copper Spaniel. An interesting case, this one. She would bare teeth when I tried to leave! It got so that her owner had to create a diversion while I ran for the exit. On lucky occasions where I found her asleep, I would tiptoe past to the front door like an escaping prisoner shuffling around a tired but vicious guard. Named Cinnamon.

Is it any wonder I’m a cat person after such a Pavlovian history?

There have been exceptions, I admit. Lily, my aunt’s Beagle-Pointer mix, is as amiable and chill as they come. A colleague has a Basset Hound named Emmylou who just wants to flop near me and score a treat once in a while. I also have an unlikely fascination with Neapolitan Mastiffs because their faces look like drawn curtains of pure droop. Even met one called Blue in a pet store. Despite his murderous gargoyle likeness, he simply lacked the energy to give a shit. Only six months old, and it still took all his effort just to sit there and drool. It was kind of Zen.

That said, maybe it’s time to reexamine my aversion. If some are OK, couldn’t any of them be a Lily, an Emmylou, or a Blue under different circumstances? Not knowing better as a kindergartener, I did in fact get down on the floor and touch my nose to JR’s before he tried to eat my lips. And Rudy probably wanted to kill me because I arrived in an overwhelming Halloween costume our first meeting. Still trying to figure out what was up Cinnamon’s ass, but it could have been my tension, my own aura of mistrust triggering a negative feedback loop.

The way people’s reactions range from ugly to uplifting depending on my approach.

We get what we give in this circular life.

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