Dogs are like bumper stickers. They reveal to other people something we want them to know about us.
We’re all familiar with the dark side of people using dogs to say something about themselves: spoiled, rich girls who carry status dogs in beaded bags or urban toughs with a well-muscled dog on the end of a chain.
But even those of us who truly love and try to understand dogs have an agenda. I discovered this about myself when I adopted* Honey. [*Even my word choice reveals something about me. I can’t bring myself to say I “bought” a dog.]
Every time I talk to someone about Honey, I explain that she’s my very first pure bred dog. After all, I’m not the kind of person who pays a breeder for a dog bred to some arbitrary and highfalutin appearance standard.
I’m the kinda gal who brings home the beautiful dog with “potential” from the shelter.
I’m the person who retrains poorly socialized dogs and manages leash reactivity.
I’m certainly not the kind of person who brings home an easy and adorable puppy anyone would be glad to have and do my best not to ruin her.
Honey’s presence in my home makes me question my very nature. I have to ask myself, what kind of person am I if I have a nearly-perfect dog from a hobby breeder?
What kind of person are you if you have a dainty dog and a muscular, athletic dog? Do you like surprising people? Or are you just open to loving lots of different dogs?
Does having a young, fit dog looking for lots of exercise and mental stimulation mean that you are also young and fit? Or that you’d like to be?
And people who pour their hearts out to bully dogs–how much do they just love goofy, cuddle pups and how much do they love defying expectations of the people around them who think certain dogs are only fighters and never lovers?
What about you? Does your dog say something about you to other people–either intentionally or by accident?
Or does your dog defy what you thought you knew about yourself like Honey does for me?
And what do you think other people assume about you when they see you with your dog?
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