Monday, October 19, 2009
Dog Day Afternoon
Truth be told, my dogs have been in more home movies than the Empire State Building. We live in downtown Vancouver and these two little fluff mutts have been the subject of many a Canon Sureshot on their various walks about town. I usually don't realize how many people take their photos or giggle (yes, grown men have been known to giggle at these animals) at the sight of two long haired chihuahuas prancing down Robson street on a Saturday morning. It was just the other morning that we were out for our usual daily walk when a group of Japanese tourists approached me and asked for photos with my dogs. This has become such a common occurrence that I did not think anything of it. I was, at the time, on my cell phone with my girlfriend when I asked to hold on so that my pups could get ready for "their close up".
"What?" she asked , almost shocked.
"The dogs are getting their photo taken." I responded, rather casually.
"Are you freekin' kidding me?"
"No, it happens all the time..." I remarked. It was then that I realized how much of a habit this had become. I was now immune to the fact that perfect strangers the world over had photos of my dogs among their vacation pictures on various facebooks and twitters the world over. (Incidentally, I still stand by my claim that TWITTER sounds like a sex toy.)
Make no mistake, my dogs are adorable. In fact Lola and Ruby are so cute that they have become the "cute measuring stick" by which I compare all other things.
So the other day while purchasing a fabulous Missoni dress at Winners (yes, Winners- I too was shocked, which is why the dress had to come home with me), I was almost rendered speechless when a man essentially scoffed at my fabulous pups in public. He turned to the dogs sitting patiently in line in front of him and said,
"Couldn't you have left them outside?" At first I was shocked that I had thought I misheard him.
"I'm sorry?" I asked, for clarification more than anything.
"I asked, " he emphasized slowly as if English was my second language, "Could you not have left those rats outside?".
Now, dear reader, lest you judge, in his defense this man was an asshole. I had heard him talking to his shopping partner earlier while standing in line that he "hated shopping." Any man who hates shopping and verbally kicks puppies on a Sunday afternoon either has a personality disorder or is just a bad person.
And so I responded with as much grace as I could muster for a Sunday afternoon in a designer outlet clinging to a dress that was 70% off... The key here was to be witty but polite. I could not have a huge scene in the store, lest I be kicked out before the purchase could be made. So I reached into my bag of witty banter and pulled out the best I could muster...
"Are you normally this rude or are you just having a bad day?", I asked. "And as for my rats... this is designer discount shopping... get a grip."
Make no mistake, I still stayed in line. The dress definitely trumped the obnoxious "dog hater". Just because he was "anti-retail" did not mean I had to be. But the event made me wonder, why do people feel dogs are warranted to the outside? Are dogs really as unhealthy as this man had suggested?
A study in the Journal of Hypertension showed that dog owners with high blood pressure had significantly lower blood pressure responses to stress than non-dog owners by as much as 6-8 mmHg. The study randomized 48 patients with high blood pressure, half were given a dog the other half were left to their own devices. Both groups of patients were placed on medication to control their blood pressure and were evaluated with regular blood pressure monitoring and blood work. At the end of one year patients were compared and the dog owner group of patients had significantly lower levels of certain stress hormones , lower blood pressure and lower triglyceride levels (a form of cholesterol). Another study in the American Journal of Cardiology showed that dog owners had a higher one-year-survival rate after a heart attack than non-dog owners.
Both studies concluded that the physical requirements of owning a dog (walking the dog) and the emotional connection to the dog were both important factors in improving the lives of the dog owners.
And so as I left the Winners store dress in bag and dog in tow, I could not help but rejoice in the fact that not only did I have a new treasure to add to my dress collection, I had the secrets to a long and happy life trailing behind me on fabulous pink leashes. And nothing, not even the passing comments of a "hater" could change those facts. And as if on cue, a group of tourists stopped me on the way home and asked if they could take a photo of my little fountains of youth...