“I don’t read your blog,” a friend told me bluntly, but with a hint of apology in the tone. “I’m just not interested in dogs.” 

“It’s not really about dogs,” I told her.  “It’s about how people interact because of dogs, and how dogs affect your life.”

“Oh,” she said.  She’s still not going to read my blog.

Once upon a time you were bound to your family and friends by ties of blood and proximity. If you were lucky, these people shared your hobbies, interests, and values.  If they didn’t, you pursued them alone. Our metropolitan world and the Internet have allowed us to expand our lives to include people who, in a different time, we could never have met.  Thus we form many social communities, with various purposes and payoffs.  Though it clearly has many benefits, sometimes it leads to a fractured sense of self.

It should be clear by now that I don’t just go to the dog park for Our Best Friend.  And it’s not really in my best interest either; I get more benefit actually walking the dog than standing around chatting.  But I love meeting people who have no expectation of who I should be.  No one at the park worries about my parenting, wonders about the depth of my religious commitment, or cares what I do for a living.  I’m just another dog owner, one with a beautiful dog who attracts looks, questions, and admiration because he comes when called. 

We had a nice day last week.  I think it was Thursday.  As a result, there were actually people at the park, instead of just icy wind, and better yet, people (and dogs) I know. Four of us, including Ronnie, chatted about dogs, dog sitters, the weather.  Ronnie mentioned someone not present.    “You all know Bob, right?”  The three of us shook our heads.  “You don’t know Bob?  He has a lab cross, Happy.” 

Our frowny faces immediately cleared.  “Oh, of course I know him!” I said.  Happy is one my favourite dogs.  “His name is Bob?”  I looked at the other two people standing there.  “Let’s be honest.  Who here knows the names of more dogs than owners?”  And all three of us raised our hands.  Even funnier, we didn’t ask if we knew each other’s names.  I’m pretty sure we avoided that ’cause none of us do.  Ronnie, on the other hand, probably does.  That’s why he’s Ronnie.

Such is the convoluted nature of relationships in the modern age.  People whose names I don’t know care more about my dog than people related to me by blood.  They’ve watched him grow, offered advice, and encouraged me to persevere in spite of Our Best Friend’s on-going issues.  Likewise, most of my friends don’t read my blog; strangers do.  Strangers whom I’m getting to know through commenting back and forth through cyberspace. My best friend is running a marathon, but it’s a blogger across the continent who successfully guilted me into walking my dog more regularly, in spite of the weather. 

But friends from cyberspace or the dog park don’t pick my kids up from school when I can’t make it.  They don’t meet me for lunch, come over and cut my bangs to save me a trip to the salon, or listen to my personal woes on demand. We don’t share holidays and life cycle events. Saying “We’re on a first-name basis” usually connotes intimacy; at the dog park it’s just one step above a no-name basis.  At the end of the day, they are still strangers whom I know nothing about except what kind of dog they have. We have little in common except a love of dogs; my friends and I have much in common except a love of dogs.  It all balances out.

I am grateful to live in a time when I have the opportunity to meet different people with whom I can share different parts of myself– my kids, my dog, my writing, my neuroses.  (Maybe no one else is happy about that, but some people put up with it.) To my friends and family in the here and now, who aren’t reading this (and to the half-a-dozen that are): Thanks for being part of my life. I hope I’ve been a good friend back. To the subscribers, who read and leave the occasional comment: Thanks for keeping me from shouting in the wind. It motivates me to keep writing (and to walk the dog). And to my dog park friends, the focus of all this effort, and who have no idea I keep this blog: I’ll see you later at the park.


About one person's view

I'm the mother of three girls, three cats, and a dog. All need constant attention, but only the dog likes to go for long walks!
This entry was posted in Blogging, dog parks, Dogs, friendship and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Relationships

  1. SR says:

    Does this prove you wrong?

  2. BM says:

    Well I am family and I love you and your blogs. Keep on writing them and continue to be who you are. Thanks.

  3. Kristine says:

    This is such a great post and is exactly how I feel. Outside of the Internet and dog classes, none of my friends are really all that interested in dogs. Which is fine, but I don’t feel like any of them really understand this big part of my life. I am so grateful to those I have met through blogging and dog-walking, without them I would feel totally insane.

    • And I want my Internet friends to know that, as long as they’re not axe-murderers, they’re all welcome to become in-person friends by visiting any time they want– as long as they don’t blow my cover at the dog park! 🙂

  4. This is one of the nicest things I’ve read. I agree wholeheartedly. It makes me want to make more of an effort to go deeper with those I meet– both when walking the dog, and online. And it makes me more grateful for my friends and family. Thank you for a wonderful post.

    • I am so relieved people like this post!! I agonized for days, afraid it would come off as dismissing certain relationships and glorifying others. I’m glad everyone feels valued and validated. Infinite diversity in infinite combinations, as they say on Star Trek! And go hug someone you love! 🙂

  5. Love this post! Like Kristine, we don’t have many friends/family members as fanatical about dogs as me and M. It was so refreshing when we started our blog to cyber-meet so many wonderful people with similar interests.

    If it makes you feel any better, I have a hard time even getting my mom to read our blog. 🙂

    • My mother does not own a computer and has no idea what a blog is. If she knew about it, all she’d say is, “That’s how you’re wasting your time?” 🙂

      The person (SR) who left the first comment is the one quoted at the beginning of the post– e-mailed her the link. 🙂 The second is my sister-in-law. My own sister I love dearly, but have given up on. 🙂

      Looking forward to taking Gus to the park with us– but we don’t have berries to sniff there. Just doggie butts. 🙂

  6. thatjenk says:

    Love this! I do have some good like-minded “real life” dog friends, but I know I can’t reasonably expect everyone or anyone to read all of my ramblings, no matter how crucial I think they are. And any non-dog people definitely aren’t going to take the time. C’est la vie, I suppose.

    On the other hand, fewer “real life” readers means you can thinly veil stories about them for blogging purposes, which is a definite bonus!

    PS. Woohoo! Guilt trip successful! And trust me, you wouldn’t want me to cut your bangs.

    There’s a “feels like” temperature of -35°C today. It’s going to be one chilly dog walk tonight!

    • Just got back from the park! Today was only -1, no windchill. We’re getting another 10-15 cm tomorrow. 😦 Don’t forget the long johns tonight! (And what would you do if Moses was a rat terrier who had to stay indoors Oct-Apr?) 🙂

      • thatjenk says:

        I would relish -1°C about now! On the other hand, I’ll pass on the snow – I’m no skier, so I don’t mind that it’s too cold to snow, keeping the roads in decent condition.

        I am so glad Moses isn’t a rat terrier! lol. Actually, we often discuss what breed our eventual second dog will be, and even though we love breeds like pitbulls, etc, we rule them out just because of the climate incompatibility. I’m not interested in having to buy boots and coats for my pets, if I can help it. But if he were a rat terrier, he’d be all suited up for several short walks per day until the hour is met and some inside games and training. Or maybe even help compensate with some treadmill assistance (not a replacement for a walk, but an occasional option in certain circumstances). Long answer to a simple question 🙂

  7. David says:

    Always the best person to have around is a baby sister…

  8. Silvery Cloud says:

    Great post! I am not a dog lover, but this post is not so much about dogs as it is about humans and the relationships we form in this age of Twitter and Facebook. Thanks for sending me the link!

  9. jacquelincangro says:

    I just stumbled on your blog and really enjoyed this post. I can relate about going to the dog park and only knowing the dog’s names. My friends tell me that it’s often like that at the playground with their kids too. 🙂

  10. hello, i hope you have a comment moderator on or you might never read this!

    i love this post and and found myself laughing and nodding my head. i struggle to remember human names at the dogparks. to be totally honest, i often don’t even recognise their faces, unless they come attached to the other end of the leash with the dog. as for friends – i know for sure that i have a better idea of what some dogbloggers are doing this week than my real life friends!

    thanks for dropping by my blog. when i clicked yours open, i realised you’re one of the ones i “met”, at either the petblogger or mutt hop [i’ve only done 3 hops, so it’s an easy deduction!] and meant to follow up on. please excuse my early onset of dementia. i’m off to read a few more of your posts now 🙂

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