The “D” word is not allowed in our home. We have two puppies, as the fur on our furniture attests, and they’ve witnessed their share of changing seasons: Archie is five, and little Zoey recently turned three. Anyone who doesn’t know any better would point out that puppyhood is now behind them. But calling them “Dogs” by those of us in the household who carry ourselves upright on two legs is proscribed, and our reaction to hearing the word on the radio or TV is not unlike that to hearing Ozzy Osbourne holding court in the vestibule of a church.
We used to own tropical fish. We owned a string of hamsters as well, keeping them in a cage only a few evolutionary steps removed from the tank that held their waterlogged brethren. Fish and hamsters were pretty much a commodity: You buy one. You name it and look at it. It dies. You buy another one. Repeat steps two and three. So we no longer own pets. We don’t utter the “P” word either.
Archie and Zoey are as much a part of our family as our two daughters, except that they’re somewhat shorter and don’t speak very clearly. And we refer to them as puppies because the alternative sounds harsh and simply wrong. “Do you own dogs?” “Yeah, two. And we own two women as well.” Those of you whose families include happy children and puppies know exactly what I’m talking about. Those of you who only own men or women may never get it.
I know, I’m coming across as a member of that fringe that is dangerously close to having the word “lunatic” attached to the front of it. There are a great many dog owners (gaaah!) who politely ask Fido to sleep in the garage and refrain from even thinking about elevating himself above the level of a shag carpet. Archie’s three paws have seen every surface of every sofa in our house, and Zoey is most in her element plopped on a mound of pillows on a bed. We don’t impose any restrictions on them that we don’t impose on our daughters, except perhaps don’t bring a friend home that hasn’t been neutered.
So forgive me for going off on a rant; it’s not like anyone’s ever questioned our methods or sanity regarding this. Kindred souls will understand and appreciate. Everyone else can go sprinkle dried corn meal to their pet fish.