Monday, July 15, 2013

Curse of the Dog People

This actually has something to do with zombies. Honest!

I’ve nothing against dogs. They’re fine companions. I simply prefer the quieter and relatively low-maintenance company of cats. A good, well-mannered dog is a treasure, though. No arguments there.

On the other hand, most “dog people” (please note the boldfaced qualifier), shouldn’t own a goldfish, let alone a canine.

A case in point: my daughter’s boyfriend’s family took in another family’s cat for a temporary stay. The cat’s owners had recently adopted a couple of dogs and wanted them to “settle in” before getting them used to a cat. The understanding—repeated urgently and often as the transaction was negotiated—was that the arrangement was temporary.

After a month, the family that took the cat in approached the cat’s original family about taking their cat back. The original owners acted as if the original arrangement had never happened. When confronted, they said, “Well, do what you want with the cat, okay? We like our dogs and we’re not taking him back.”

The cat in question is a very loving, attractive, tailless Manx. This cat had lived in what it presumed to be its Forever Home for six years. Six years. And using deception, justified by that special strain of smug righteousness (“we’re dog people!”) that begs to be punched in the face, they kicked that cat to the curb.

By now, I expect apologists for this sort of behavior to be spluttering, “Well, at least they didn’t just abandon it outright. They found a family for it!”

Yes, they found a family for the cat. By lying to them. And they didn’t care if that family took that cat to the animal shelter to be put down, etc. They still abandoned the cat. They didn’t care if they broke trust or lost friends to do it—but that’s better?

It’s no better than how a friend of mine in South Carolina ended up with his cat, who showed up on his back porch in the freezing rain. That cat used to live up the road with another family. When my friend confronted that family, he learned they’d recently gotten a dog, so out went the cat.

“Cats are hunters. He’d learn to live in the woods,” said this dog person. No. It doesn’t work that way, either. Especially when the cat has grown up with your family. The cat would have starved and died in loneliness and misery. But he found another family to take him in, so what you did is okay, right? 

That’s the mean, middle-school fat-kid logic of dog people. These are the same blustering fools who wonder aloud what the world is coming to when they hear of some random bit of homicidal mischief on the news, who thunder about the lack of accountability and compassion among “some people.” 

The hell of it is, dog people aren’t even good for their own dogs. Lest you think this is a simple cats vs. dogs rant, I point out that a lot of dog people get dogs because, well, other people have dogs and—using the same “logic” that explains the proliferation of iPhones, iPads, and other assorted iCrap among people who who should know better—it seems right to have a dog. It’s what people do. So they get a dog. 

And then they tie it up in the backyard to go insane with loneliness and thirst, because they don’t want it inside. Or otherwise ignore it, don’t bother to train it, then beat it, or eventually abandon it altogether. (Dogs are social animals. The craziest, most neurotic dogs you’ll ever meet are those who get little or no attention from their owners.)

Or maybe they’re the bright-eyed, grinning imbecile I meet in the supermarket parking lot at least once a week who says, “I go everywhere with my dog!” As if leaving a helpless animal to suffer in the back of a hot truck flatbed (or worse, and more common) locked inside a car with the window barely cracked, if at all, is something to be proud of. It means they go everywhere with their dogs, so therefore they really like dogs, and can’t be held accountable for essentially torturing them. Besides, the dog lives, right? So, it’s not, like, cruelty, y’know?

Mind you, I know responsible dog owners. Great people. All two of them. Most dog people, though, are vile specimens of humanity who should be “put down,” and none too gently at that.

Sadly, we can only get away with that in fiction. Which brings us to Plug Time: if you really like dogs, and hate “dog people,” my good friend James Robert Smith has the zombie apocalypse for you. In Smith’s book The Living End, an abandoned border collie takes his vengeance upon the family—and, by extension, all of humanity—that left him alone to starve amid the ruins of civilization.

Honestly, how often do you you come across “a novel about zombies with dogs”? One in which the alpha dog is the hero? Check out the sample pages on Amazon and decide from there if you’re willing to proceed with something so deliciously different than the usual.

In paperback AND Kindle editions!