If you exist you know what dogs are. They're pets; four-legged (usually), living, breathing chunks of property that their owners manicure and maintain in exchange for companionship.
Companionship? Why not love? Why not affection? Why not another, less stark word? Like most Gen-Y/Pre-lennials, I am wont to snap judgements and systemic cynicism when it comes to traditional views of Americana. But I assure you, this opinion, has been cultivated from diligent reflection and sincere thought.
I hate dogs.
I don't hate your dog. I'm not recalling a polarizing experience from my childhood that has tainted my view of dogs. I don't even hate dogs. I do hate what they represent in society.
More pointedly, I hate the importance placed upon them in lieu personal mental fortitude. Man's best friend is and has been used as a crutch to aid and sustain character flaws that need to be resolved at the risk of our social stagnation.
According to author and screenwriter Rob Tobin, every good story has seven basic elements: a hero, hero's character flaw, an enabling circumstance, an opponent, an ally, a life-changing event and jeopardy. Even the most unconventional stories adhere to these parameters. Now, let's say you are the hero of your story (as you should be) and your flaw is a fear of public speaking. "Fear" meaning a crippling, paralyzing, pants-filing psychosis that leaves you a hermetic recluse. But you have one soul that you trust in the world. Your only friend is an adorable weiner pug named Randall. Cute!
Night after cloistered night, you lament your troubles to Randall as his brow furrows in a way that suggests he may understand. He must be your ally, right? As your "ally", does he propels you towards overcoming your flaw? How could Randall do that? Offering advice? Lending a sympathetic ear? Or are you co-opting his existence as license to delay the difficult but necessary task of acquiring the unique and diverse problem solving skills that will aid you as you rise out of a swamp of deficiencies and dysfunction?
In short, the dog is a lie. Rather, the dog is neutral and it's neutrality makes it easy to disregard the true nature of ourselves. It like playing with trick dice; when using a cute, honest canine's ever-sunny disposition as a mirror you're bound to get skewed results.
Going back to the screenplay that is your life, your true "ally" will most likely be a precocious, yet sage adolescent with a predisposition to caring for wounded birdies that fall from their nest in the local park. This Trachtenberg-ian tween will listen and offer advice, but more importantly s/he will monitor you and assess you and have opinions and judge you. And you have to be okay with that.
Analysis and reduction exist. It's how humans process information. We do it all the time, all day. With seven gigabits of visual information pouring into our brains every second, reduction is the only way to get from one moment to the next with our sanity in tact. But Yehweh forbid that someone not recognize and consider our many facets in every situation at all times. That person's jackass for passing judgment while we pass judgment on them for their singular infraction of daring to judge.
In our minds we must set up the caveat that everyone contains multitudes and are subject to any facet of their personality at any given moment. We are all unique snow flakes, everything and one thing. I can barely understand that concept and I just typed it. There's no way a dog could ever approach that level of thought. If you want to relieve your emotional bladder on something that couldn't even begin to comprehend the complexities of human emotion, let alone fathom the love you have for it's slobbery face may I suggest taking up an instrument or video game. At least your results would be quantifiable and demonstrable at the end of the day. I'm talking HCG-lvl stats and the adroit dexterity of Antonin Dvořák.
I'm not suggesting you replace your beloved furriest family member with hobbies. I believe the point is that dogs are not people. "Yeah, they're better than people..." your Automatic Snark Response System (ASRS) snidely quips.
Dogs are blank slates that react in the moment with little to no thought or incorporation of past events. Don't believe me? Next time you meet up with your favorite cuddley cur, greet it coldly, with sternness and rigidity. If you can take the karma-hit for the sake of a blog's pseudo science, turn your back on the wretched creature. Seems cold, but the dog will get the message loud and clear. Chill out on the couch and it'll rest next, near or on you. Come in with high-pitched zeal and energy and it'll meet you there like it's been training it's entire life for that moment. At a certain point it not fair to them.
If you have a doggie, I will mush it with all the love I could possibly muster. But can you do me a favor, for the dog's sake and your own; be honest about what your relationship is really about. If you require unconditional love you should mine that emotion and find out what's underneath that impulse. If that need is being sated by external factors, that can make you an emotional time bomb and I'd hate to see you come undone behind a 10-110 pound, manic bag of hair.
P.S. Dogs aren't babies either. Cut that out.