Mark Sherman: Why dogs are better than people

Mark-Sherman SQUAREThe other day I was talking with a guy about allergies. Yes, that’s right; all you women out there who think that the only things we guys talk about are women and sports, you’re wrong.

Anyhow, he was talking about the fact that he has two dogs and that his young daughter is allergic to dogs.

“But you still keep the dogs?” I asked. (One of the reasons my wife and I have never had a pet dog or cat is because she is allergic to almost all domesticated animals and sometimes I think this includes me.)


“Yes,” he said. “They’re just so great. When I get home, they are so happy to see me.”

And there it is; he said it in a nutshell. One of the reasons we love our dogs is that they love us in a way that no human being can. Think about it. Can you imagine your spouse reacting to your walking through your front door the way your dog does? Here’s how I see it: When you get home your dog reacts, every time, as if he thought you were never coming back. He is genuinely ecstatic to see you.

Your spouse? You’re lucky if she even notices you’ve come home. And if she does, just about the most you can expect is a brief kiss and a kind word or two. And this is in a good marriage. In a not-so-good one, you’re lucky if your walking through the door doesn’t lead to an argument.

So let me ask you this: When was the last time your dog argued with you?

Now okay, dogs aren’t the perfect companion. They don’t offer much in the way of conversation. Also, you do have to take them out. But even here, it’s a pretty good situation vs. your spouse. You don’t have to take your dog out to dinner — at a restaurant that’s not your favorite and is really a bit too expensive. On the other hand, several times a day, you have to take him out to go to the bathroom. And when it’s cold and you’re tired, this is not something you are eager to do.

And walking your dog can also be a problem when you encounter what every dog owner dreads: Another dog. I have always wondered why it is that dogs typically become crazed when they see another one. It’s as if they’ve never seen another member of their species and are over the top with emotion when they do. They pull at the leash, they bark, they go nuts. And so does the other dog. And if they get near each other, they start sniffing around in a way that can be very embarrassing and there is always the possibility of a fight.

But it’s the sheer excitement they show that has always amazed me. I mean, dogs are everywhere. There are millions of them in our country. Okay, I could understand the excitement if you owned an orangutan and had him or her out for a walk and you encountered someone else with their orangutan. Now that would be reason for your orang going wild. But when you’re a dog and you see another dog? What’s the big deal?

But still, overall, as the huge number of people who own dogs — even when it causes a loved one to have trouble breathing — will attest, dogs are, in many ways, a big improvement over people. They love you unconditionally. They are genuinely happy to see you every time you come home. They don’t drink or abuse drugs. And when you have them outside literally on a leash, you won’t hear them say they feel like you always have them on a leash.

They are like children who never grow up. True, many of them have ADHD, but since they aren’t boys in school, this doesn’t present a major problem.

And yes, every once in a while they will bite someone and this will lead to a lawsuit that will destroy your life. But isn’t this possibility a small price to pay for a genuinely loving companion who really wears her emotions on her paw and will never try to fool you by wagging her tail when she really isn’t happy?