No two people are going to have the same opinion about everything which is why the phrase “let’s agree to disagree” has been the salvation of many a friendship. Over the years, I have built a solid base of relationships that include folks with strong religious beliefs (I am agnostic), those who tip to the right in their politics (I am a lefty), and even… dare I say it… non-drinkers (I cook dinner most nights with one hand on a pot and the other clutching a wine glass).
However, there is one area in which dissent is unacceptable. .. It’s the animal thing. If you don’t have a pet, or even think about having a pet, your reasoning had better be related to life-threatening allergies, lease restrictions, or a life-style that involves leaving the country for months at a time. I don’t want to hear about how you “don’t really like” dogs or cats, or how dogs or cats or other assorted beasts, “don’t really like” you.
I am not saying that everyone out there has to be ‘dog crazy’ or a ‘cat person’ (whatever that is), but I am saying that having a hate on for any of Mother Nature’s creatures says something disturbing about you (unless it’s the fruit fly… it is perfectly reasonable to hate the fruit fly).
Now I know that my dog is a crazy, out-of-control beast whose battle against the front door can be terrifying to the poor souls knocking on the far side of it. And I recognize that anyone who pronounces Buster the Schnauzer ‘cute’ while he is still barking and snorting and leaping all over them in my foyer is at best lying and at worst mentally deranged. But once you are in the house and sipping coffee in the kitchen, I expect you to notice how adorable my shaggy man is, because by that point he is likely resting peacefully beside you on the floor; and if you are still avoiding him even after catching the full force of his ‘I love you, man’ stare, I may start finding ways to wind down the chit chat and get you out of the house.
Please note that I also have a very dignified cat that, in keeping with feline sensibilities, will not jump on you and indeed, may ignore your presence entirely. So if you are not ‘dog crazy’ I am still willing to give you a chance to warm up to Homer the cat, and prove that there is kindness in your soul by at least reaching out to rub him with the tip of your foot as he drifts past. If even that is more enthusiasm that you can muster then I am afraid the deal is done and your number is likely to be deleted from my cell phone.
Sorry if this seems judgemental, but on top of the crazy dog and the slightly less crazy cat, I also have three children who are much louder and messier than the pets. They are harder on the furniture, cost more to feed, require way more time commitment, and return affection only sporadically. So you can see why I might question the point of continuing a relationship with someone who can’t even warm up to the easier members of my household.
At the end of the day, I guess I just can’t ‘agree to disagree’ about the animal thing because not liking them boils down to one of two reasons: unwilling or unable. Either way, it says something disappointing and potentially threatening about the individual in question. The good news is that between the dog’s bad behaviour and the general mayhem that is inherent in a visit to my home, only the hardiest of souls survives anyway, so if you’ve been in my kitchen more than once it is because you have at least a passing tolerance for all living things, including Buster the schnauzer.