I have never understood why some people just don’t care for animals, dogs and cats specifically. I just can’t relate. Nor can I imagine a life without the love of a pet. The human and animal bond has been a powerful and mutually gratifying relationship since the beginning of time (well, almost). My dog is the sunshine of my life! He brings a smile to my face just thinking of him. And I swear my last dog was my soulmate. It just seems that loving a pet is a very natural and beautiful part of being human.
I’m not talking about animal-haters. I could never attempt to rationalize the hating of any animal. I am speaking of those non-pet-lovers who are not bad people, they’re just “indifferent” towards animals. By the goodness in their hearts, these people would never be cruel to an animal nor deny it it’s basic necessities. They may tolerate pets to a certain extent. And they may even acknowledge another person’s affection for one, but they really don’t understand. In trying to better grasp why these people feel the way they do, I’ve come up with 5 reasons that some people may shy away from a dog.
Reason #1: Lack of Association with Dogs
Sometimes people think they don’t like animals simply because they have not been exposed to how wonderful pet ownership is. Perhaps their household was too busy to have a pet as they were growing up – Mom & Dad both working, kids running every which way… it makes sense. My husband was allergic to dogs and cats his entire childhood. He couldn’t be around a pet, so he never had the opportunity to enjoy their company. It wasn’t until we met that dogs became a part of his life. He learned that he had outgrown his allergies, but the most important thing he learned is how full and amazing life with a dog can be!
Reason #2: The Belief that dogs are dirty and should be left outside
A friend of mine thinks dogs and cats are “cute” but has no interest in interacting with them. She was raised to think that pets in the home are dirty and that dogs should be limited to living outside. It’s easy to understand how a person could not develop any kind of an attachment to a pet if they have no life associations with them. Believe it or not, my family dog was considered an “outdoor” dog as I was growing up. I think that was pretty typical back then. “Tippy” was allowed to come in the back door but could go no further than the utility room or just inside the adjacent kitchen (where there was tile flooring), but he certainly was not allowed on the carpet. We spent lots of time with our dog outdoors, though, and have some great memories of our life with him. My Mom loved pets and she would call Tippy in every evening to have a good warm meal and to sleep in a comfy bed – in the utility room, of course. Each morning, Tippy couldn’t wait to get outside. He loved living his life outdoors.
Reason #3: Dogs smell!
Many people just don’t like the way a cats or dogs smell. I happen to like the way a well-cared for pet smells, but I get it. Check this out! Can you believe the extent to which these people loathe the way a dog smells?!? i.e., “Dog smell has always made me gag. It’s pretty putrid and rotten smelling.” Whaaat? I guess humans would smell bad too if we only got a bath once a month (or less!). Maybe I’m one of those dog owners spoken about in the article who have become immune to the “stench”. Like the recent Febreze commercial… I’ve gone “nose-blind”. If that’s true, I’m sure I’m not the only one!
Reason #4: Bad past experience
Sometimes the reason that someone is not warm and fuzzy about animals is because of a bad experience in the past. It may even be a suppressed memory that they cannot pinpoint, but the apprehension remains. Sometimes a fear of animals is “handed-down” from their mom or dad. For example, if Mom was severely bitten by a dog as a child, she would be hyper vigilant at protecting her own children from them. The child then naturally assumes that dogs are bad and that you should stay away from them. The fear of dogs can run pretty deep.
Reason #4: Dogs are misbehaved
I must admit, dogs that are left to their own devices can be terribly annoying. You know the ones I’m talking about… The ones that are free to run the neighborhood and dig up your flowers and track mud up on your porch, the ones that bark incessantly, the ones who always jump up on your clean clothes with their dirty feet, the ones who are constantly in your face licking your skin off, the ones who hump your leg and everyone else’s legs, the ones who bring dead vermin and carcasses to your front door, the ones who promptly jump up and sniff your “privates” as if you’re another dog, and, of course, the mean ones.
One guy online says, “Dogs often remind me of hoodlum-like misbehaved, miscreant, delinquent children or adults for that matter”. It’s unfortunate, really, because all dogs can be trained to adhere to society’s rules and behave in a civilized manner. This type of bad behavior is not the dog’s fault, it is the owner’s fault. Without good dog training, a dog does not know what is expected of him. Not knowing makes him even more anxious and obnoxious to deal with as he does only what he knows to do and is confused by our disapproval. So sad…
This is interesting… recent research has suggested that our love for animals has a genetic basis. Some people, regardless of their upbringing, seem predisposed to seek out the company of animals, others less so. Isn’t that intriguing? This same study also examined how environmental factors, such as having been raised with pets in the home, were efficacious in determining our love for animals. In the end it was conclusive that environmental factors had less of an impact as did genetics. Wow!
Have you ever heard this saying?
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
- Anatole France
That really hits the nail on the head doesn’t it? We can only hope that people who do not know the love and joy of pet ownership will eventually have their eyes opened and their lives enriched by this extraordinary relationship. Until then, we need to be respectful and understanding of their hesitation to be around our dogs, just as they need to be respectful of our enjoyment in sharing our life and our love with our 4-legged family member.