The Best Friend’s Man

Dearest Reader,

Today I’d like to share with you some of the observations I have made about our species, specifically those members of our species who enjoy keeping other species in their homes. And by that I mean pet owners.

First I must confess that as a child, living in a rural Sardinian village, I also had a pet. It was not allowed inside the house, but it was tolerated on the general family property. It was a cat, and her name was Gulasch. That’s right. She was meaty, and so she was named after a Hungarian meat dish. Gulasch was not allowed to migrate with us from Italy to Germany, and I was made to believe by my deceiving parents that this was the government’s fault. It later turns out that my parents simply didn’t want Gulasch to come with us, so Gulasch had to stay back and I left her in the capable hands of our neighbours. Unsurprisingly, I have long outlived Gulasch, but I remember her fondly in all her meatiness.

As I grew and blossomed into what society perceives as an adult, I realised that I don’t actually think the practice of keeping pets is such a nice idea, so I have decided not to get Gulasch II. But of course, many people still lovingly raise and maintain their pets, and indeed consider them to be part of the family. In my suburb alone, the pet to human ratio is around 3:1, and not a day goes by where I don’t have to walk around some person trying to manage 4 dogs all at once, and one always wonders, dearest reader, who is walking whom.

But today I don’t wish to speak about the man’s best friend. Dogs are nice, and I enjoy their company like I enjoy other people’s children’s company – from a distance, without actually getting involved with saliva and sticky paws. What I want to speak to you about is the best friend’s man – dog owners.

They fascinate me.

Especially in the era of technology and social media, combined with the ease of taking photos with your phone, my Facebook feed is plastered with more dogs than their owners. Indeed, some of my Whatsapp contacts are dogs according to their profile picture, and Christmas cards now illustrate a brand new type of nuclear family – the mother, the father, and their two dogs. I have listened to many people at office parties, social gatherings and professional conferences tell me about their dogs, their unique character, their life stories and how well they are thriving at dog school.

Dearest reader, you know I’m a straight shooter. All I want to say is “Dude. It’s a dog. What are you doing?!” But I can’t. Because they are dead-serious about it, and they will get upset if you make such observations. You are also not allowed to call it ‘it’. Because ‘it’ is a ‘he’ or ‘she’. So you must play along and pretend that this is in no way weird or boring, and instead congratulate them on being such great parents to such a good boy or girl.

What also fascinates me is the huge multi-million dollar industry designed just to juice the last penny out of dog owners. In my street, there is a beauty salon for dogs, a clothing shop for dogs, a Walmart-sized pet food store, a dog daycare centre, and a vet that specifically states they also speak Korean. And you might say, “Well, Zozan, maybe it’s because the dog owners are Korean.”

No, dearest Reader. I am afraid not.

I think it is because they believe the dog might speak Korean, and I say this for a reason. My sister has a dog, and he has an actual passport to travel, according to which he is originally from Spain. Presumably, by now he is bilingual but perhaps at the beginning, he used to only comprehend Spanish.
I know you have many questions now, and so do I.

Why a passport? Where did he get a passport? Does it have a picture? How did he travel across multiple countries? Was it on purpose or an accident? Does he face discrimination because he’s brown and possibly has the famous Spanish lisp?

What I always wonder is what if extraterrestrial travellers found our planet and decided to have a looksie at what we’re doing down here. After some time, they zoom onto my suburb, with the disturbingly high numbers of dogs, and see one species poop, and another species pick it up, put it in a bag and carry it around.

Who would you think is in charge?

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