Randi is on a brief leave. This column was originally published Feb. 18-24, 2018.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, I’m obsessing about how to impress, and basically ingratiate myself to, my domestic partner. Admit it: A certain anxiety fuels the hysteria over finding the perfect roses or just the right jewelry to meet expectations.
Feb. 14 triggers a commercial and emotional frenzy, with us trying to please someone when we have no idea what that someone wants. Worse, we feel obligated to buy a gift because we’ve been brainwashed by advertising, soppy postings on social media and reruns of “Pretty Woman,” “Sleepless in Seattle” and “Out of Africa.”
Note to husband: The striped umbrella was not an inspired gift two years ago. Neither were the polka dot pajamas last year. Think 18 karats. Or, if funds are short, I’m a sucker for the written word. Pen me a pretty Valentine.
As for my gift giving, I’ve been living with my husband for decades, and I’m not a bit concerned about being able to make him happy on Valentine’s Day. A glass of his favorite Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, a homemade crab cake and he’s mine.
My deep, deep concern is my other housemate, Lilly Bee, our one-year-old Malagasy Coton de Tulear. As dogs take over the country, from airlines to restaurants to department stores, we need to hone our gift-giving skills to meet canine desires and fantasies. Very soon, our four-legged friends will rule the world. (This is a fake fact, but that’s OK, right?)
According to recent statistics, there are 323 million people in the U.S. There are also 90 million dogs kept as pets in American households. (These are real facts. Doesn’t it get confusing?) That doesn’t count the street dogs, wild dogs and shelter dogs that are conspiring to get a leg up on humanity.
You think I’m kidding? Barking up the wrong tree? The 90 million dogs we know about are increasing in numbers exponential. Visit any dog park and see for yourself what happens when male and female dogs get together. They aren’t exactly discriminating in their romantic encounters.
I don’t know exactly when (because I’m making this up), but pretty soon there will be more dogs than people in the U.S., and we humans better be ready to please them. We already see signs of a dog-centric culture. When did the dog stroller become ubiquitous? Why do we see water bowls for dogs outside restaurants when homeless people have to scrounge to get a drink? And airlines? The rules state that “emotional support” dogs take priority over humans with allergies or aversions to the smells and potty problems that sometimes come with canine passengers. Dogs are born with all the clothes they need on their backs, yet the dog clothing industry is a multi-billion-dollar business.
Guess what other dog-centered biz is booming? Products for overweight and obese pets. And they aren’t fat because they patronize food courts. They’re fat because their owners feed them the same way they feed themselves: too much.
According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an astounding 94 percent of owners of fat dogs think their pets are a normal weight. When advised that their pups are putting on pounds, humans buy lower-fat dog food and other slim-down products. Thus a new industry is born.
And this is just the beginning. Come the day that dogs outnumber people, they’re sure to organize. Since poodles are reputed to be the brainiacs, they will no doubt seek the vote. A poodle president? I understand that poodles can identify a number of individual toys by shape and color. I’m not making comparisons, but that could be awesome in a president.
A dog majority would change food-buying habits, demanding raw-meat menus and a reduction in the current consumption of smoothies and veggies. Veterinary schools would proliferate. We might see grooming taken to a new level. Aging dogs would demand hair color, and even a bit of “work” when their jowls droop.
Canine candidates would promise hydrants in every public park and a chicken in every doghouse. Puppy classes would become passé, and higher education would be available to all dogs, regardless of breed, shape of ears or length of tail. I imagine my Lilly Bee might follow the tried-and-true advice to study what she loves: Stuffies.
In a dog-dominant America, there would be a lottery for any mutt with a dollar and a dream.
Once the dog population tops the human population, the balance of power will tip in favor of Fido. We’ve all seen those paintings of Rover and Lassie and their friends sitting around a poker table. Fanciful, you say? I say, stay tuned.
In the meantime, I’m hedging my bets this Valentine’s Day. A box of genuine goat bones is on its way to Lilly Bee.
Copyright 2023 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.