I'm a dog person. Most of the people I know and spend time with are dog people. If you are reading this post I assume that you are a dog person. But there are some people in my life, that I love dearly, who do not share my enthusiasm for dogs. And for me, that is 100% okay. I can't make anyone like dogs any more than they can make me like tomatoes or raw oysters. What's important to me is that they accept me completely as I live my largely canine-centered life, even if they don't have the same opinions or beliefs. What can you do, though, when dealing with someone who doesn't seem to respect your dog's place in your life? What do you do when someone doesn't "get it"?
- I try not to force my dog or dog-centered activities on another person. I spend a lot of time with Emerson, but there are many paths I traverse without him. If I'm visiting a family or friend's house, Emerson doesn't come with me, and I don't ask if he can (sometimes he will be specifically invited, in which case he happily comes along). I don't want to put others in an uncomfortable position. In the same vein, I don't ask friends or family who are not dog people to watch or care for Emerson.
- Fair warning is given- prior to any planned visits to our house- that we have a dog. Some people are allergic, some people don't like dog hair on their clothes, and some people just don't like the surprise. For me, the respectful thing to do is to give them advanced notice.
- I freely discuss the positive impact that I have personally experienced through having a dog...When talking about Emerson, I like to highlight the ways he has enriched my life and the benefits I experience from caring for him. I like others to understand that we don't just "have a dog", but rather share our lives with him and consider his needs just as much as we consider our own.
- ...but I don't criticize those who choose not to. I have the utmost respect for those who choose not to have a companion animal, whether it's because they don't like dogs, don't want the financial responsibility, or because it's a hindrance to a busy lifestyle. Not accepting the responsibility of a dog is better than accepting it and then being unable to fulfill the duties of pet ownership.
- I try to educate others, if possible and appropriate, about the benefits of the human-animal interaction in today's society. In the past few decades, evidence has mounted that pets are just as good for us as we are for them. Emerson may benefit from having us as his humans, but between the physical benefits of daily exercise and the emotional benefits of laughter and joy that he provides, I benefit just as much out of our life together.
I'm Erica, a senior dog lover living on the East Coast, sharing my life with a good dog and a good man. We're all navigating the process of aging gracefully together.