Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Dog Parkist: Birthday Blues

Q: I have a friend who recently called to get out of a social engagement with me. Her excuse? It was her dog's birthday. I think she may even have been planning a party. Now I'm a dog lover, but I think it's a little excessive to make a big deal over an event the dog itself isn't even aware of. Do you agree?
They Say It's Their Dog's Birthday

A: My dear TSITDB, you are a brave one, wading as you are into the uncharted and emotionally charged waters of dog owners'  feelings for their animals. Isn't the problem, really, that you were not invited to the dog's party? Or is it that the dog has more pull than you do when it comes to the social calendar? Or are you offended on the dog's behalf since it appears that the owner forgot until the last moment that the birthday and your social engagement occurred on the same day? 

In any event, the Dog Parkist will concede that you do have a point. The owner made a terrible faux paw by treating you as if you are less important than the dog. Any socially adept dog owner knows that it is important to give fellow human beings the impression that they are more significant than dogs, even though the opposite is true. You human beings can't hold a candle to a dog, whose presence on earth is the one true sign that God exists, but it is rude to even hint otherwise. Tsk, tsk.

The Dog Parkist will also concede that she does agree with you on principle. Her own two dogs are spoiled almost to the point of putrefaction, but she has never yet celebrated their birthdays for the simple fact that she does not know when they were born. (Vets have randomly assigned dates, but there is no convincing this writer that Roma is Libra rather than a deep Scorpio, thank you. And Muzzy is far too genial to be a Taurus.) But even if she had papers that certified the very instant of her dogs' entrance into this world, the Dog Parkist would be unlikely to Make a Fuss because, my dear, it would blur the boundaries of the dogs' time-space continuum. Dogs live in a timeless void. They exist in a twilight world in which there is always another walk, nap, or meal on the agenda no matter the hour, day, month, or year. One day is pretty much like the next, which means dogs remain unfazed by things that freak out the human race, like the aging process, holidays, family gatherings, and work or lack thereof. To impose birthdays and parties on them seems to defeat the very point of their existence. It is a strike against the Universal Order of Things.

Still, let's consider your friend's action in another light, shall we? First, while the dog does not care about its birthday, the owner's actions show that the dog is central to her life, always a good deal for the dog. Second, unless your friend is the type who expects guests to bring expensive and frivolous gifts, the party is in effect an excuse to host a gathering, to bring friends of different species (except cats and ferrets of course) together in a moment of celebration, which is benign at least, self-involved at most, neither of which is Against the Law.

So, my dear, do the right thing. Call your friend and wish her dog a happy birthday. Then make note of the date on your calendar and avoid making engagements with her during this time next year or for the next fourteen years. Thanks for writing!

Dear Readers: Many of you have thoughtfully asked after the Dog Parkist's well being, citing the recent dearth of her postings on this blog. You are so very kind. The Dog Parkist would like to remind everyone that mining the social sphere for moral dilemmas and their solutions can be exhausting, especially in this heat. Please bear with the DPist. Those of you who really care might help a girl out by submitting pertinent and interesting questions.  Ta! 

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