What is it with girls and little dogs?
That question was posed to me by someone that I used to date. I thought about it again today and decided to write about it. I remember how it came up. It was one of our first conversations, and I was out walking my dog, Bootsy. Bootsy is small, weighing about 15 lbs. But she ain’t no little purse dog or anything like that. She doesn’t wear t-shirts or sweaters or bows. My dog ain’t no punk. Anyway, I was out walking Boots who is normally quiet, but she started barking at some other dog and then it came up: “Where are you?” I’m outside walking my dog, I replied.
“Oh…you one of them girls with a little a$$ dog. What is it with girls and little dogs?!,” and then he laughed.
What’s that supposed to mean? I am a girl, yes. I do have a small dog, yes. But what the heck?! Is there a secret sorority of single women with small dogs? This was not the first time I’d heard a smarty pants comment about being a single woman with a small dog.
When I first got Boots, in 2005, one of my (male) co-workers said: “I know why girls get little dogs. It’s like being a ‘mom-in-training’.” I didn’t even know what to say to that. It wasn’t that deep (to me) when I decided to get a dog. I looked at it from a practical standpoint. I lived in New York City at the time, in a 435 square foot studio apartment. To me, there wasn’t enough room for me and a big dog so that was out. I knew I was moving to a much bigger place either back to DC or to Atlanta, so I wasn’t put off by having a small dog in that apartment for a few months. Plus, like I told y’all – I grew up in the South. Big dogs are outside dogs, and I wasn’t going to have a backyard anytime soon, sooo…little dogs were the choice. I wanted a dog that didn’t shed and didn’t bark a lot and didn’t need a lot of exercise.
I did some breed research and then went to a dog show out in Leesburg, VA. There I found that I not only liked the Havanese dogs but also that their owners were more like me than the other small dog owners. They were carefree, relaxed, chill people. The Westie white terrier owners were uptight and jerky. The cocker spaniel and poodle owners were worriers, trying to make sure their dogs’ hair-do was just right. I mean, really.
Only later, as “girls with little dogs” became a more frequent topic of conversation, did I begin to think more about why I’d chosen to get a dog at that time. I was 29 when I got Bootsy. I definitely wasn’t thinking about being a “mom-in-training” but then one of my current co-workers said that you can tell how people will be with their children based on how they are with their dogs. I don’t know if I buy into that but I can see how the theory developed. I think I only care about big things with Bootsy – don’t pee or poop in the house. Anything else is minor to me and I don’t trip off that. I think I’d be that way with children. Don’t do big bad things like beat up other children or cuss out your teacher, but maybe I wouldn’t care about mismatched socks or an unmade bed? I don’t know.
In my opinion, that’s where the theory falls apart because there really isn’t anything that Bootsy is supposed to be doing except not peeing or pooping in the house. Anything else is extra. Sure, she can turn in a circle or walk on 2 feet but if she peed in my house, those tricks would not be endearing to me and I’d still be pissed (no pun intended).
So I asked the guy what were his preconceived notions about “girls with little dogs” and he said a few things. One was that they talk to the dogs in baby voices and that’s not cute. Another was that they treat the dog like a child and dress it up in clothes. The last straw though, for him, was that they let the dog sleep in the bed with them.
I can deal with the preconceived notions as long as they’re thoroughly discussed and resolved. But I cannot deal with a man who doesn’t like my dog. So yes, I’m a girl with a little a$$ dog. A small, well-behaved, no-clothes-wearing*, not-my-child dog. 🙂
*Ok – I did breakdown and buy Boots this jacket because she’s losing her hair and was shivering last week when we went outside. But other than that – no clothes. And yes, she looks hard core in her red jacket!