Clark from Ashland, Oregon writes in to ask: “Why is my dog such an asshole? He barks at everything and everyone, goes crazy whenever another dog is around, tends to be destructive and chew things up, pisses on the floor when I don’t watch him, rips open the trash, and basically acts like an all-around douche. I’ve even thought of sending him to the Humane Society. Is there anything I can do?”
Believe me, Clark, when I say that in many ways, I understand what you are going through. For I too have a dog that is spirited, to put it mildly. He loves to bark, tends to be territorial, gets into things if I neglect vigilance, and would most assuredly take off after whatever grasped his doggy attention if I didn’t keep him on a short leash whenever he’s outside. In many ways, he’s worse than a child because the normal kinds of reinforcement, like psychological abuse and brutal beatings, aren’t as effective on him as they would be on some dull-witted little kid. All in all, he’s a fairly tiring form of constant awareness, an aching tooth in my life, that gets in the way of plans, good sleep, and the care-free idea that I could just open my windows for fresh air.
Having said all that, my dog is fucking terrific. Because, first of all, his love is totally and completely unconditional. Sure, he goes apeshit over treats or a new toy or whatever it is that I am attempting to eat at the moment, but considering his complete inability to comprehend time, even if he’s punished or I get angry over him rifling through the trash and he withdraws a little, within minutes, that feeling is usually replaced by his general “I’m going to jump all over your balls in joy” way of being. If I’ve had a bad day, he doesn’t care; he just wants to lick my face for about five minutes when I get home, and he calms right down. He’s just ripped a hole in my boxers pulled from the hamper that I thought was inaccessible and I scream at him until I’m hoarse? Within minutes, he’s coming up to me with the remains of a stuffed rabbit, ready for a good game of tug-of-war. Best of all: there’s nothing more entertaining than watching the awkwardness unfold as the new neighbors try to visit and he sticks his nose in someone’s ass.
Ultimately Clark, what I would say to you is that dogs are much like people in this respect: some of them are just assholes. Now, the reasons for his behavior can be many-fold: poor socialization early in his development with people and other dogs; lack of exercise; lack of proper nutrition; not enough attention and play when you are around. Sure, you could probably remedy a lot of these things with a regimen of self-reinforcing training, introduction of new people and other dogs into his life in safe environments, regular vet visits to verify good health and proper diet, and so on. Myself? I’ve made peace with that fact that on his good days, my dog is alarmingly intelligent and the kind of adorably loving companion that would make a hardened, detached psychopath put down the electrodes and give that naked man a heart-felt hug and a kiss on his ball-gag. Like with any relationship that’s worth a damn, there has to be room for both the good and the bad. My dog may not be perfect, but he’s entirely himself. And that works for me.
The Humane Society? People like you are the reason for laws that punish vehicular homicide. If your only problem is that your dog is too much of a handful, seek some professional help to make life better for the both of you. Gets some training, get off your lazy ass, and get into action. Because now, Clark, you’ve got a dog. Probably because you liked the idea of a dog. You thought he was cute. And frankly, you wanted to be one of those guys you see on tv and the movies who have the dog, the nice apartment, the carefree way of wearing leather jackets and meeting hot, young women for rough sex, and you knew that somehow, you had to make all that happen. Considering your girth and the fact that the last hot, young woman you’ve ever known was passing you out of her birth canal, getting a dog seemed like the only realistic step you could take toward that life. Well, you got a dog now, fucko. So deal with the problem in a responsible way. We don’t throw something away just because it’s inconvenient, unless it’s a fetus.
And, well, that’s legal.