I watched my dog throw up.
It wasn’t a pretty sight, but one I’ve witnessed before, typically after he eats clumps of grass deemed suitable emetics.
The stone-headed terrier wandered away, intrigued by the scent of an unseen rodent deep in a thicket of aloe.
Eventually he lost interest and went back to roaming and sniffing. He stumbled upon his regurgitated pile of kibble and grass and, I presume, after considering his unexpected good fortune, he started to eat his sick. (In writing those words I’ve gagged again.)
What is wrong with me? What is wrong with us?
How is it that we — and I use the plural because there’s no way I can be alone in this incomprehensible behavior — have grown so fond and attached to these creatures? These animals that will eat their own vomit as if it were a teen ingesting a bowl of its favorite cereal?
These are dirty, dumb creatures. And we love them. According to one pet industry study, last year we loved them 55.72 billion times, with each time equaling a dollar spent on pet supplies in the United States.
These beasts unapologetically roll around in dirt, mud and the occasional carcass and we welcome them back into our cars and homes.
They happen upon “snacks” in the cat box and — after we’ve forgotten — we let them lick our faces.
They pass wind in front of company and don’t appear the least bit embarrassed, and they hog all of the space and blankets on the bed in the middle of the one night we really need a restful sleep.
And yet we keep them around. We buy them and breed them and adopt and rescue them. We name them and mourn them and welcome their presence. And when someone says they’re not a “dog person” we glance at them sideways, unsure of what to make of that person but quite sure we will never think of them the same way again.
We don’t trust people who don’t like dogs. But maybe we have it backward. Maybe we are the ones who shouldn’t be trusted.
Dogs can be pardoned for their displays of questionable behavior and poor decision making skills. They are dogs, after all, not cats.
But what’s our excuse? As reasoning, sentient beings, what explanation do we have for following behind a four-legged trash eater, scooping up its excrement and walking around with it in a flimsy plastic bag? Why do we subject ourselves to the costs of dog food and vet bills and not expect anything in return from these freeloading stomachs that bark at ceiling fans that spin in the dark?
Tomorrow, June 21, marks the beginning of summer and the dog days of the season are on the horizon.
Those are the sorts of questions I’ll ponder. From a hammock, my dogs at my side. Actually, on my chest is more like it.