Are We Using Our Pets to Stay Single?

I’d ask Agatha but she’s dead and, besides, she’s (was) a dog.

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Courtesy of Dreamstime

“Dogs have no shame. I should have a dog as a life coach.” Moby

I feel for anyone who has a dog. I had a dog. She was a mix, a mutt, with big dopey ears. She tripped over those big dopey ears. My girlfriend had big dopey ears, too. You’d think they’d get along, but they didn’t. Agatha, my dog, dropped a deuce in my girlfriend’s shoe once. Totally intentionally. Girlfriend gave me an ultimatum. “Either that dog goes or the shoe goes.”

Fair play. I threw the shoe out in the snow. Next day, Agatha dropped a deuce again, but not in the other shoe. A different pair. Black ones. Girlfriend didn’t notice until she felt the squish. Same deal, same ultimatum.

She left me with two single shoes. Both are in the backyard. Agatha walks around them like a conquering general. Tactical success. She was smart.

Second girlfriend, no problem with shoes. Problem with toenails. Agatha decides to be friendlier, leaving tracks up and down my girlfriend’s legs. “Either that dog goes or you go,” she said. Seems she couldn’t handle four sets of toenails. Mine were leaving skin canals.

Agatha thinks that’s hysterical. Tries to make it look like panting, but you know she’s saying, “What a maroon.”

Easily resolved. I cut my toenails, cut Agatha’s toenails — even cut the girlfriend’s toenails. Ultimatum comes the next day. “Either the nail clippers go or I go,” she says. Agatha thinks that’s hysterical. She tries to make it look like panting, but you know she’s saying, “What a maroon.” Nail clippers go, skin canals return. The girlfriend leaves with all my Band-Aids. Box falls apart on the sidewalk. Band-Aids float in the wind.

Third girlfriend takes pictures of Agatha. A pet-sitting network called Rover.com did a study. Supposedly, 65 percent of pet owners take more pictures of their dogs than their partners. Nothing about girlfriends taking more pictures of the boyfriend’s dog than their boyfriend. Ultimatum from me: “Stop taking pictures of Agatha.” Girlfriend leaves with the pictures.

Fourth girlfriend loves dogs, loves Agatha. They form a united front. Agatha’s never slept on the bed before. She farts something tragic. Girlfriend says, “Come up here, Agatha. Share my pillow.” Who’s Agatha to argue? First fart comes out like a dull roar in the night. I’m sent to the couch. Second one I can hear from the living room. I’m absolved. Agatha gets the boot.

Okay, Agatha has a bit of a goose fixation. Nothing serious. She sits by the front window looking for freezing geese.

Girlfriend’s not a quitter, though. She buys Agatha new dog food. Farts clear up, Agatha returns to the bedroom. Turns into a pillow hog. We switch to feather pillows. Agatha runs around looking for naked geese. Pillows destroyed the next day. Agatha forms a united front with winged fowl.

The ultimatum comes in the form of a letter. “Either the dog goes or I go.” Okay, Agatha has a bit of a goose fixation. Nothing serious. She sits by the front window looking for freezing geese.

That’s not the real problem, though. Agatha’s a lesbian. She sticks her nose where it doesn’t belong. A lot. “Stop that,” I say to Agatha, but maybe she’s more lesbo than she realizes. She can’t quit. She steps it up, corners my girlfriend in the washroom. Bad lesbo dog, bad lesbo dog.

We check the pet training manuals, seek out a good vet. Agatha takes to her immediately. Practically lifts the woman up off the floor with her nose. Girlfriend packs and leaves the next day. I think she felt a bit jilted. Did Agatha only love me because I brought women home?

Dating with pets is a serious issue — and I have serious issues. Is this a universal truth? Do dog owners choose dogs over human love? Or lesbianism over hetro love?

I gave up dating and started lawn bowling. Agatha hates lawn bowling. Barked her silly head off. Threw everyone off their game. Bad butch dog.

These aren’t made up incidences, folks. Dating with pets is a serious issue — and I have serious issues. Is this a universal truth? Do dog owners choose dogs over human love? Or lesbianism over hetro love?

Let’s go back to that study done by Rover.com. They found that 54 percent of pet owners would end their relationship if their dog didn’t approve of the significant other. That’s tragic (almost as tragic as Agatha’s farts).

To say I’m conflicted is putting it mildly. Now I don’t even have Agatha. She died of old age. Left two shoes in the yard and nose prints on the window. The goose issue was never resolved. Agatha was gobsmacked.

I’ve thought about getting another dog. I’ve checked species, particularly heterosexual breeds. I’ve also checked women on dating sites, too. Some claim to have dogs they love. The pictures show a lot of hugging and silly hats. Agatha refused to wear hats. It was a generational thing.

A few of the women on these sites are good prospects. One’s actually gorgeous. Agatha would have had her up against the wall in seconds.

In reading other peoples’ stories, they share the same concern. Are we using our dogs to stay single?

It makes you think — or makes me think. Did I reject all those ultimatums in the name of loyalty to Agatha? Or was I looking for an out? Was Agatha simply there to drive off interlopers?

In reading other peoples’ stories, they share the same concern. Are we using our dogs to stay single? This came up on one of the social media sites titled “Why I Can’t Stand My Boyfriend’s Dog.” The pooch is an asshole, sleeps in the bed, sits at the table. Ultimatum: “Either the dog goes or I go.” She lives in Queens now, across from a dog park.

Next question: Is it fair to give an ultimatum? This draws a unanimous raspberry. “The dog was there first,” they say. “Why don’t you suggest training or get a good vacuum with a pooper scooper?”

If all else fails, build the dog its own bungalow out back—and not one of those clapboard shacks. Something with its own window seats. If the dog tries to get up at your table, send it home with a doggie bag.

Now, animal behaviourists, like the “Walkies” woman, contend all animals can be trained. Owners are the real problem. Maybe it’s the boyfriend who needs a choke chain, or at least a few lessons in hygiene.

Relationships are build on flexibility. Agatha wasn’t flexible at all. I guess I wasn’t much better. I took each ultimatum as a slight. If you can’t accept Agatha, you can’t accept me. Totally unreasonable on my part. As social scientists will tell you, “You’ve got to meet people half way.”

With Agatha gone, I can see this now. I must change…perhaps with that gorgeous woman who calls her dog “Spike.” He’s a brute, but the smile suggests a good heart.

That’s the problem. Pets don’t meet you half way. They want it their way. We emulate them, developing terrible habits that are, well, doglike.

With Agatha gone, I realize I must change…perhaps with that gorgeous woman who calls her dog “Spike.” He’s a brute, but the smile suggests a good heart. I hope he’s named after Spike Lee, an intelligent filmmaker, and not Spike, the Romanian rapper.

Here’s the thing, though. I’ve been through so many ultimatums. They haunt me like Agatha’s farts. Will I fall for this gorgeous woman, only to find she eats spaghetti with Spike like those two dogs in Fantasia?

I canvased a number of dog owners, most saying the same thing, “The dog is your responsibility — not your life. If your girlfriend wants the dog off the bed, that’s reasonable. If she wants it incinerated, show her the door.”

I wish things had been that simple with Agatha. She could have been more agreeable if she wasn’t so busy lesboing herself.

I cry when I look at Agatha’s collar. I don’t know who bought it for her. Maybe Band-Aid woman. She had a thing about collars.

Anyway, I’m going to contact that gorgeous woman. I’ll tell her I love dogs. I’m still getting over the death of my own. Hopefully, that will generate interest. I’ll bring Agatha’s collar with me. A little nostalgia can’t hurt. Women like a man who can cry. I cry when I look at Agatha’s collar. I don’t know who bought it for her. Maybe Band-Aid Woman. She had a thing about collars.

Fun girl, all in all.

I’ll leave that part out. Yesterday’s Kibble, as they say.

Robert Cormack is a novelist, journalist and blogger. His first novel “You Can Lead a Horse to Water (But You Can’t Make It Scuba Dive)” is available online and at most major bookstores (coming August 6th in paperback). Check out Yucca Publishing or Skyhorse Press for more details.

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I did a poor imitation of Don Draper for 40 years before writing my first novel. I'm currently in the final stages of a children's book. Lucky me.

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