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Stay at home, mom


Yesterday, I came across the website Momlogic, by virtue of an article appearing therein that triggered my special Internet alarm that goes off when somebody, somewhere is verbally bashing dogs.

The article was headlined Your Dog Grosses Me Out.

In it, Jennifer Ginsberg — a Los Angeles mother, writer, addiction specialist and producer of the website angstmom — recounts a dinner party experience in which she encountered not one, but two dogs, who were not only inside the house, but behaved, well, like dogs.

“If you choose to cohabit with dogs, then how about putting them outside for meals and parties? I know that you consider them to be a part of the family, but they are animals, not people, and it is not acceptable for them to infringe on the comfort of your guests.”

She continues: “It is freaking annoying when I sit down on your fur-covered sofa with a plate of food and your dog stands one inch from me, panting his nasty doggy breath and whimpering as he begs for my crudites. My 2-year-old daughter didn’t enjoy when Shlomo sucked on her toes while she was eating birthday cake, either!

“Humanizing animals is a glaring example of our society’s broken moral compass. It’s easier for some people to feel frothy emotion about the imagined plight of an animal over actual human suffering. It’s also simpler to have a relationship with a pet than a person — there aren’t any real emotional requirements, and you get to feel loved unconditionally for no good reason.

“If these self-proclaimed dog lovers really cared about animals, perhaps they would strive to meet their genuine needs, rather than attempt to turn their dogs into submissive love slaves. These poor dogs are tools for people to get their narcissistic needs met, while they deserve to be respected for the animals they are. The truth is, dogs don’t belong in houses — their natural habitat is outdoors — and they certainly don’t belong at a party with young children running around.”

I’m guessing Ginsburg won’t have to worry about being invited back to a party at that dog-contaminated house again. What’s puzzling, though, is why she went to the party in the first place, given her feelings (or lack thereof) about dogs, and given she admits to knowing there’d be at least one there: “I knew that I would have to deal with Shlomo, their big, stinky dog.”

From time to time, I see a similar sort of behavior at the park: The person with an unsocialized and leashed dog, though plenty of alternate routes are available, opts to walk him right through the middle of 20 unleashed ones, then complains when their dog is approached by one of them. Some people just seem to thrive on confrontation.

While it’s true that wolves, from which dogs evolved, may not “belong in houses,” neither do apes, from which we evolved into the ruling, supremely intelligent, somewhat bossy species we have become.

Given her field of expertise, you’d think Ginsburg would at least be a little more understanding about the plight of the dog-addicted.

Meanwhile, I have only this advice for the next time she’s invited to a party where there might be a danger of her comfort being infringed upon by her gracious host’s lowly dogs:

Stay at home, mom.


Comment from Anne’n’Spencer
Time November 10, 2009 at 10:54 am

I dunno. I yield to no one in my love for dogs, but I think she makes some valid points despite her tone–which is a bit nasty. Dogs shouldn’t beg at the table or in the living room for food. They shouldn’t jump on people. If they’re allowed on the furniture (which mine have always been), that funny round nozzle on the vacuum cleaner is called the upholstery brush, and you can wield it before invited guests arrive. I also believe, deep down, that dogs would rather greet humans in a more formal, ritualized way than what we’ve encouraged them to adopt. A brief glance and initial sniff can be followed by a more enthusiastic approach later–if the human encourages it and also if the dog wants it. They don’t fawn all over each other at the dog park, and if one does, he’s soon corrected by one of the other dogs. As for human children, you can instruct and train your dog to approach carefully and only if invited. You can train a human child to behave the same way around a dog. By doing so you’ve empowered them to form a friendship on their own terms, not yours.

I am thinking of my grandmother, who simply was not fond of dogs or cats. She had grown up on a farm, and she just did not believe that dogs belonged in the house. That didn’t stop her from providing a dog for my mother–the legendary cocker spaniel, Smut, who lived to be eighteen years old. It didn’t stop her from setting food out on the back porch for a stray cat who hung around the neighborhood for several years. But she would have drawn a very firm line at fawning, jumping, and food-begging. Long after her death (in fact quite recently) I found a photograph album from her childhood. A whole section is devoted to fading, sepia-toned snapshots of the dogs who lived on the farm during her childhood. There are retrievers and pointers, lots of beagles, a couple of sheep dogs, and one who looks a lot like a Pit Bull. They have names like Jack and Skip and Shep. They all look sleek, happy, well-fed, and loved–but I’d be willing to bet that none of them was ever on the couch in the parlor.

Comment from Derek
Time November 10, 2009 at 11:03 am

If only these wonderful “moms” would realize that many of us feel the same way about their smelly, drooly, loud, whiny, disgusting….CHILDREN!

Comment from Emily
Time November 10, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Completely agree with Derek! Those of us who don’t have children feel the same way about going to parties with screaming childern, throwing temper tantrums and are supposed to know better!
If someone doesn’t like my dog, he or she can stay home, chances my dog wouldn’t like that person anyway! He is a good judge of character!

Comment from Jenifer
Time November 10, 2009 at 2:10 pm

I agree with Derek and Emily. All you have to do is go to a Big Box Store of your choice on any Saturday in the 2 months leading up to back to school time to see how truly disgusting kids and their doting and frequently misguided parents can be. I’ll take dogs any time. To anyone who feels they need to call a dog lover to account for dogs in the home this is my response: “The dogs LIVE here. YOU don’t.”

That having been said the vacuum nozzle gets a frequent workout on my sofa but I’m currently contemplating cheap slipcovers as a management strategy.

John The Blogger needs to open an Amazon store where he sells to us loyal blog readers some dog-related products such as foo-foo dogfood containers that look good on the kitchen counter, and the “Drool Cleaner” supposedly put out by a major mfg of carpet products but which I cannot for the life of me locate any-darn-where; also that pet hair pickup gizmo on the TV ads with the bazillion cats – it would work on dogfur too no doubt.

Comment from baltimoregal
Time November 10, 2009 at 6:55 pm

It is one thing to respect that someone has a fear of dogs or is uncomfortable around them- my mother, too, grew up on a farm and I restrict my enthusiastically loving 70-lb pit bull mix around her. There is also the issue of allergies.

That said, if people are going to have a party and you know their dog is going to be there, then either go and shut up or stay home.

And dogs CERTAINLY DO belong in houses. It’s a one-way ticket to misbehavior, if not a dog bite, if you leave a dog outside all the time, where they can’t socialize or develop bond with the family

Comment from petblogger2
Time November 10, 2009 at 9:29 pm

Like the first commenter, I have mixed feelings. Dogs are very social animals and so I think they do belong, at least some of the time, indoors with their family.

But that being said, I think we dog owners need to be sensitive when we invite guests over. We should realize that not everyone loves dogs. There’s nothing wrong with confining them (the dogs, not the guests, although some might disagree) in a section of the house so they are out of the way and do not cause any undue offense. If guests indicate they would like the dogs present, then great, bring them out (assuming they’re trained and well behaved and WON’T beg).

Her crack about how animal lovers find it easier to relate to animals than people may be true in some minority of cases (it’s becoming something of a stereotype), but most of us who love pets clearly understand the difference between human and animal life and have fulfilling relationships with people, thank you.

Comment from Anne’n’Spencer
Time November 10, 2009 at 10:46 pm

I have been thinking about Smut all afternoon after recalling her this morning. She died years before my birth, but her legend as the world’s most intelligent dog grew and grew over the years. She certainly was welcome in the house, but she was absolutely not supposed to get up on the furniture. This did not deter her from adopting a spot on the living room couch. She simply got down when anybody approached the room. My grandfather took to putting his hand on the couch to see if there was still a warm spot. If one was found, Smut was reprimanded. Or knowing my grandfather, “reproved” is probably a better word. He was a clergyman, and one would expect him always to tell the truth, so I’ve never known if this was a tall tale or not: He swore that one day he came into the room and found her shaking her head back and forth next to the couch–fanning the warm spot with her long ears. One thing is not a tall tale. She and my mother were devoted to each other, and when Smut’s health began to fail, she hung on to life and waited until my mother returned from college for a vacation. Having seen and greeted her one last time, Smut slipped away at the age of almost nineteen. Every family should have a Smut somewhere in its background.

Comment from Carey
Time November 11, 2009 at 8:23 am

Anyone who comes to my house knows how I feel about dogs. Basically, they are welcome in my home before most humans. Anyone coming to my house also knows they’ll be asked to leave if they don’t like that philosophy 🙂

Comment from Helena
Time November 15, 2009 at 6:08 pm

Awesome! Awesome story, awesome title. She sounds like a mean mommy. I hope she’s nicer to her kid. I am suspicious of anyone who hates dogs that much.

Comment from Rebecca
Time November 19, 2009 at 12:51 pm

My brother-in-law insists on bringing his dog with him whenever he comes to visit. LAst night he came over and his dog lifted his leg and took a pee on my fireplace! I was furious! My husband said I over reacted. I have requested that he not bring his dog with him when he comes over but he continues. Am I over reacting?