Taste Doesn’t Matter – Good for the Dog; Good for You

Unless you’re talking about kibble, taste is the least important thing ever.

So why did I ever make such a big deal about it?

Honey Has Good Taste in Dogs

It probably wouldn’t surprise you that Honey is attracted to Golden Retrievers. If she spots one in a crowd or on the street, she wants a closer look.

Honey the Golden Retriever poses on a dog bench at Provincetown, MA..

Hey, you said if I got up on this bench I’d see Golden Retrievers. You tricked me!

But other fuzzy dogs also capture her eye.

Abby, for instance, lives in our neighborhood. She has long hair and a floofie tail like a Golden. But that’s where the resemblance stops.

Abby doesn’t find Honey the least bit interesting. But Honey loves Abby. If we see Abby and her person a block away, we have to alter our path to say hello or we’ll never finish our walk.

Despite Honey’s tastes running to Golden Retrievers and other fuzzy dogs, she has become good buddies with the hound mixes we’ve fostered, especially Cherie.

Honey’s taste runs toward Golden Retrievers. But she knows that other dogs also make great playmates. Even if they don’t cause her to run over to say hi.

Good Friends with Bad Different Taste

I used to think taste was important. I assumed that if someone’s taste in music, movies, politics, animals, architecture, etc. was different from mine, I wouldn’t enjoy spending time with her.

What a stupid notion.

Here’s what finally convinced me.

Honey the Golden Retriever plays tug with her person on the beach.

You like playing tug? You’re ok in my book.

I once tried to watch the show, Family Guy. I didn’t expect to like it. After all, the main character is drawn with testicles on his chin (go look and tell me I’m wrong). But everyone was raving about it so I decided to give it a chance.

I made it through ten minutes of the most sexist show I had ever watched before switching it off in disgust. And then I started the internal rant. “No wonder women continue to be treated so badly. This is entertainment?”

(In fairness to the creators of the show, it may have turned out better by the end. But I couldn’t take any more misogyny in my evening’s entertainment.)

The next day I mentioned my experience to a friend who said, “Oh, my daughter and I love that show.” She rocked my world.

You see, my friend is the best person ever. She’s a community leader. She has parented any number of children who needed a reliable, loving adult. And besides being a near saint, she’s a lot of fun with a good sense of humor and is someone who loves to dance.

She’s certainly not the mouth-breathing, evil, woman-hating person I imagined watched that show.

And then it hit me. It’s only a matter of taste. And taste is not terribly important.

Bad Friends with Good Taste

I thought back to a long friendship I had in Philadelphia. This friend had excellent taste. At least it agreed with mine.

We especially liked going to the movies together. And our tastes were so similar that if she recommended a film, I’d see it without reading a review or synopsis just based on her opinion.

After a long car ride, I realized how unlikable this friend was. She was totally self-absorbed. And she shared shockingly inappropriate information with near-strangers. (If I told you, you wouldn’t believe me. Let me just say that my husband never expected the Brooklyn Bridge to be where his knowledge of my friend became equal to that of her gynecologist.)

It was during that drive that I realized our friendship only lasted because we spent most of it sitting quietly in the dark watching movies.

Dog (And Cat) Lovers Have Great Taste

Just like Honey knows that a good playmate doesn’t necessarily have long golden fur and a floofie tail, I’ve learned that good friends have very different taste.

Honey the Golden Retriever poses with hound mix Cherie,

True friendship doesn’t come from enjoying the same things. But from looking out at the world together in an open way. Woof!

As I check out the blogs and Facebook pages of friends I’ve made through Something Wagging This Way Comes, I see a wide world of different tastes. Many of the people I’ve come to love the most, adore things that I can’t stand: NASCAR, Disney World, Dancing with the Stars, the Cheesecake Factory, 1980s pop music.

And I bet many of you would go insane if you were forced to enjoy my favorite things: baseball, long talky movies with no plots (anyone for My Dinner with Andre or Wings of Desire?), folk music, camping, and sailing. As I look at my list of favorite things, I see activities that many people describe as slow and boring.

Luckily we have one really important thing in common: a love of animals and openness to learning more about them. I think that’s a wonderful foundation for a deep and long-lasting friendship.

And who knows? Maybe the way Honey has learned that houndy dogs with short coats are fun to play with, I’ll learn to appreciate the musicality of Rick Springfield or the adrenaline rush of cars racing in circles.

But even if I don’t, I’ll be happy to realize that true friendship has nothing to do with taste. And that’s one lesson that is as good for me as it is for my dog.
Your Turn: Does your dog have strong tastes? Do you? And do you think they’re important?

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  1. Sue at The Golden Life says:

    Pamela, I’m with you 100% on the baseball and NASCAR part! But I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s listening to the music my big brother liked because he was — and still is — my hero. I have the 60’s music channel on all day, even when I go out. And, some of my friends have all their taste in their mouths as far as I’m concerned; but I love them dearly anyway. Taste never has mattered much to me, probably because it didn’t matter to my Mom either; and she was my best friend right up to the day she passed away in 1979.

  2. So true. True friendship goes beyond have tastes in common. Some of my best friends are so very different from me that I would never have imagined we would be friends. Dogs are a common thread, though. Those people make me grow as a person.

    I did not see anything interesting about Nascar until I went to a race, and I only went to the race because I didn’t want to be left home alone for the weekend. Seeing it live made a big difference. Same for baseball. I didn’t really care for it much until my son got into playing it seriously a couple of summers ago. Now I really like it. We watch games literally all the time in summer. It’s much better than Family Guy! I share your dislike of that show…I have no use for it.

  3. I think having different interests makes a friendship stronger as long as your core interests are similar like my love of wabbits and squirrels or my moms love of pets, photography and writing. Mom would not be able to have a good friend that did not like animals and I find a dog that isn’t interested in wabbits and squirrels boring.

  4. Very interesting. I know Kelly likes some dogs and not others, but haven’t figured out how to understand or predict Kelly’s taste. Interesting that Honey prefers other goldens, I actually found that surprising!
    I would think that I prefer to hang around with people who have the same taste in things, but one of my best friends has very different taste. The thing that binds us is that she has a great sense of humor and we have so much fun when we’re together. Also we both love dogs. I don’t know how well I’d get along with anyone who doesn’t love dogs.

  5. Funny how dogs do tend to like their own breed the most. There is nothing worse than someone subjecting you with their interests when you are not in the remotest interested. It is so a matter of taste. Have a marvellous Monday.
    Best wishes Molly

  6. Roxy and Torrey like everyone. But, Torrey will bark if someone seems wrong to her. Which is great, she must sense something that I don’t always.

  7. Mike Webster says:

    From the Husband:

    BTW, anyone who enjoys taking potshots at other people’s tastes should question this blog’s author about her preferences in men circa 1985. One in particular seemed to think it was the height of fashion to be seen wearing high-water slacks, color black.

    Over gym socks, color white.

    Over loafers. . . color black.

    And she liked this look so much that she decided to marry him.

  8. Great post and some terrific insights! I never would have thought of it, but it’s true: some of my favorite people love things that I find abhorrent or dull. Just ask Florian about expensive cars and fishing.

  9. Very interesting points. It’s nice to have friends who enjoy the same things, but you’re right… It the person’s personality, not their tastes. Although, taste does account for something. I can forgive you for liking long talky movies with no plots. 😉 But there are some more violent or trashy forms of entertainment that I can’t help but wonder about the personalities of the people who enjoy them. Take those who enjoy dog fighting, for example. It’s good to be open-minded, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

  10. I’ve often thought that you need a diverse group of friends in order to have a fuller life. I have one group of friends where our activities and discussion seems to revolve around sports (we all played softball together) and food. We never or rarely discuss the husbands or children. I have another friend who I discuss personal matters with – back in the day we would dissect our dating relationships for hours on end. I have friends who love to go out to dinner and that’s all we ever do. Having that assortment of friends allows me to fulfill my needs without forcing my stay home and cook for you friend to dinner in a restaurant. I’ve seen the same in my dogs too. Sally especially had several different friends and she would play differently with them – bite face with Lucy, but chase with Rudy…

  11. You know, I grinned at the beginning of this post because our Greyhounds and our Shepherds are both remarkably happy to meet other dogs from their own tribe. That’s not to say that they don’t like meeting all other dogs, but when they see another of their kind, there’s a special excitement. Bunny is also particularly fond of little dogs. I don’t know why, but she really seems drawn to them.

    I had a feeling you’d write a post like this at one point. You left out the greatness of The Hunger Games! lol There are some things that I absolutely do not like and some people that really turn me off. I also find companionship with people who have interests similar to mine. However, what I think is the most fascinating is someone who has their own interests that they can share with me. I love learning about new things from people and I really enjoy tidbits about culture, art, history, science and even politics sometimes. Sometimes, even though it’s a topic I don’t know a lot about, I develop new interests from what other people are into. Hopefully all of that made sense!

  12. What?! No 80’s pop? No Debbie Gibson? No Richard Marx? No The Outfield?! And jeez, I thought I liked you.

    Just teasing. 😉

    I can get along with just about anyone as long as they consider their dog family.

    I’ve gotten to know people just because of our shared affinity for dogs and then realized they are *vastly* different than me and I probably wouldn’t have become friends with them if it wasn’t for our dogs. But by then, I like the person they are, even the parts of them that I disagree with or believe differently about, and it’s all ok.

    The dogs are the true catalyst for many friendships.

  13. I think the world would be a far better place if people just took a little time to find the common ground.

    We may not agree on all fronts BUT if we keep communicating we eventually find a common ground which can become a building block for so much more.

    Always thought provoking Pamela.

  14. I think when I was younger I tended to choose friends based on how similar our tastes were, but these days I look for compassion, honesty and a good soul…I don’t care if you like NASCAR or dressage…if you’re a good person we might be friends (and maybe I’d learn something along the way) You and I Pamela must have similar tastes…I agreed with everything on your “dislike” list

  15. I think Sage gravitates toward dogs of a similar size to her and is a bit intimidated by larger dogs. Dogs of the same breed? Sometimes I see it and other times she could care less.

    I have moved a lot during my life and am always having to make new friends. Finding people with similar interests is a good way to start and then a few deeper friendships will develop out of that.

  16. I admit, I mostly befriended folks with the same general views until I had dogs. Dogs (at least dogs who are friendly with other pups) drag you up to folks and kinda force you to talk to them. I now walk my dog 3X per week with someone who has very opposite political views to me. (I just don’t bring up politics and change the subject when she does…) And my last pup’s cancer led to meeting tons of folks from all walks of life in a cancer group, many of whom I become good friends with. Could probably say the same for dog-blogging. I’ve become friends with other bloggers, even though we’ve never met – and maybe wouldn’t see eye-to-eye on my fanatic love of professional cycling. It’s mostly thanks to my pups!

  17. You know, I think this posts hits on something much deeper in our society. Back…way back, people grew up in their town, married a high school sweet heart and your best friend married your spouses best friend. You raised kids together, went to church together…we were based in many smaller towns all over this country. Working in blue collar jobs. We all did the same sorts of things.

    Now, we move, we marry, we don’t marry, we try all sorts of hobbies that come from all over the world. We connect to people online that we feel connected to and yet we may never meet them in person. I think with this exposure to a broad range of ideas and people we have had to move away from a one size fits all sort of friendship. I have blog friends, work friends, dog friends, fantasy book friends…my world is much wider than the “small town-marry your high school sweetheart” it would have been a century ago…my friend base has to follow suit.

  18. Some very good food for thought :) I used to believe in ‘soul mates’ – my definition of a soul mate was someone who loved the very same things you did and who believed the same things too. The problem with that notion is that it doesn’t give you any room to grow. Some of my deepest friendships (and most challenging, and most interesting) have been with those who are very different from me in their tastes. My husband is also different from me in so many ways (if I have to watch another episode of Star Trek, I’ll scream!) but that’s what makes it so interesting. If it wasn’t for him, I never would have learnt to love the TV show Columbo or Seinfeld. If it wasn’t for me, he wouldn’t have started watching Curb Your Enthusiasm or Arrested Development. Now, to get him to enjoy Desperate Housewives….
    Even ‘love of animals’ is getting negotiable for me. Many of my friends don’t share this passion, but are still interesting, worthy people in their own right :)

  19. A very wise post, as always!

  20. YOU DON’T LIKE DISNEY WORLD OR 1980S POP MUSIC? If we were in a car, I would have just pulled over so we didn’t wreck while my head reeled from that information. Strangely, I still quite like you even though at this moment, I can’t possibly imagine what, if anything, we now may have in common.

    Come to think of it, while my two best friends are near carbon copies of me when it comes to sense of humour and tastes, but other than them? I don’t have much in common with most of my friends – and I have even less in common with my Hubby.

  21. I’m guilty of the ’80s pop music one, for sure. I do love baseball though. 😉