Earlier this month, Facebook lit up with pictures of a small auburn puppy looking up with big, dark eyes from a sunny patch of grass. I’m not sure what made this puppy stand out from my newsfeed’s endless stream of dog photos, dog memes and links to assorted dog-related online content.
Maybe it was his calm, collected demeanor in the face of outdoor stimulus that would send my two pups into frantic fits of wanderlust. Or maybe it was just the number of times he popped up — the story behind those pensive puppy eyes got a lot of shares.
Here it is in a nutshell: A post on a Birmingham nonprofit’s Facebook page announced the “Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy with Champion Bloodlines from England!” was up for bid in an upcoming fundraiser auction. Animal advocates immediately took issue with, as one commenter put it, “inadvertently promoting the impulse purchase of a pet or treatment of a living being as an object.” After one morning on the dog people of Alabama’s bad side, the nonprofit said to heck with this, removed the post, apologized and announced the puppy would not be auctioned off.
The whole thing was over before I’d finished singing the kiddos their good morning songs. Yes, good morning songs. (And before you ask, Kollee rises and shines to the country ballad, “Good Morning, Beautiful” and Koopa starts his day with “Good Morning” from “Singin’ in the Rain,” except where Debbie Reynolds sings “to you and you and you,” I substitute “my Koopie Koopie Coo”… it’s not my best work.) But I don’t sing the songs in their entirety — I’m not a lunatic.
Turns out some people might beg to differ.
You see, upon reaching the article’s end, instead of clicking on over to “8 Hilarious Photos of Dancing Dogs” as planned, I kept reading and found myself knee-deep in the misspelled, modern-day cesspool we call the online comment section.
Since I’ve never been much of one for beating my head against a brick wall, I didn’t bother to throw in my two cents. But a comment from Jeff_963 stuck with me:
“it is a DOG. stop trying to dictate what people do with their property. your ‘reasonable’ line of thinking is PART OF THE PROBLEM.”
It’s a dog. Like I haven’t heard that before. And not just from mean-spirited trolls — sometimes it’s a well-meaning loved one reminding me, usually following a remark like: “Why can’t you just leave him outside …” or “Why don’t you get whichever one’s cheapest …” or “Why are you hand-stitching rhinestones in the shape of a ‘K’ on the wings of a little kid’s fairy costume … It’s a dog”
I know it’s a dog. Do you? What does “dog” mean to you?
It used to baffle me and sometimes it still does. Like the time we drove five hours for my cousin’s formal bridal shower — poor Koops was about to pop when I saw the white tents set up along the lakefront and thought, oh good – it’s dog-friendly … That his first act as guest was to lift his leg on the mother of the groom’s chair probably didn’t help our case. Still, they could’ve let him keep her crab cakes, at least the ones he licked … it’s not like she was gonna eat them.
I can’t be too hard on them, though. It’s easy for me to understand, with a Koopa who interrupts mom’s terrible singing with good morning kisses and who’s earned the nickname “hall monitor” at his doggie daycare and who stayed right by my side during the angry Iron Bowl pacing of 2013.
And they’d get it too if they had a Kollee who stands with her paws on the bathroom counter to watch mom get ready and who follows her brother around the adventure field so she can dig where he digs and who plays like a boy even when I dress her up like a girl.
I know what “dog” means. Koopa and Kollee told me.
It means I laugh every morning before my feet even hit the floor. And it means that my coming home is the best part of someone’s day. It’s my first good morning or my last kiss at bedtime.
To me, dog is family. And I hate to break this to Jeff_963, but there is no reason when it comes to family.