Pooch over partner

Columns | Vienna Review | September 2009

As I write, a bittersweet reflection swirls around in my mind of what natural human bonds have turned into. You see, it has become a normal sight for me now, to watch a couple indulge their dog – or any other pet – by any means possible – with expensive special food, walks in public places without the leash (even around kids), or collars frosted with jewelry or gold. It is usual for young people to coddle a cute dog in the street, in the metro or in a restaurant, the same spontaneous, intuitive reaction that an adorable baby triggers in everyone!

Where is the problem? It unfolds as such.

So there I was, waiting in the airport for my best friend returning from her summer vacation, when a man in his late forties walked past me with a dog and stood right at the front, facing the double doors where passengers were coming out.

A few minutes later, an elegant young woman in her late thirties emerged, rolling a small suitcase behind her and searching for her loved one among the many faces of the waiting crowd. It was not long before his identity was revealed. She beamed as she rushed with tiny, ladylike steps towards the man with the dog. I was beginning to smile myself, moved by the sweet scene of lovers reunited after time apart.

My smile was short lived. Barely looking at the man, the woman reached for the dog; throwing her bag on the floor near him, she crouched down and covered him with hugs, kisses and coddles mixed with loud laughter, overflowing with emotion! To my surprise, the man smiled down at them happily, while he picked up her luggage and bag, waiting patiently for his small share. When she was done embracing her long-missed canine, the woman stood up and set a small, quick, casual kiss on her man’s lips and the couple walked out slowly.

Now, I love dogs. And I welcome the idea of a couple owning one: an experience that strengthens the relationship as the couple shares the responsibility by taking care of a third party. But a dog rather than a baby? A pooch more than a partner? Must all our strongest emotions be directed at secondary targets rather than the ones right near us?

POO– Linda Eid 

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