In her caustic and tongue in cheek manner, author April Pedersen, takes aim at the “Dog Delusion” or the anthropomorphic fantasy that has legions of dog owners equivocating their canine companion with a human version. Pedersen deftly takes on the opposing viewpoint when she depicts, from the dog delusional camp, humans as malcontents only capable of giving conditional love. The reader is titillated by the author, with such chestnuts as “I’ll take dogs over humans any day,” and “dogs love without having an agenda!” One of the strongest analogies pushing back against those who are delusional about their dogs, comes in the comparison between the CEO who doesn’t trust non-pet owner clients, and the religious fanatics who cast scorn upon non-believers.
Pedersen makes her stand against such delusional behavior in a swift, precise, and very real manner. Her account of the drug sniffing canine’s funeral with honors is incredibly vivid and bordering on the exact amount of ridiculousness that would cause any rational person to question the spectacle in general. Likewise, her commentary regarding blueberry pet facials and in-room canine massage. It is hard to read these passages without at least smiling.
Nonetheless, Pedersen does at times, concede to the opposition and qualify her statements in her own inimitable way. The author carefully acknowledges the role that pets have paid in saving people’s live, as companions, and as a source of enjoyment as she herself admits with respect to the cat she had for eighteen or so years.
As noted above, Pedersen takes aim at the dog delusioned and at religion, which is actually quite understandable given the almost evangelical fervor that is described in her essay. The demands that laws be changed to afford tax breaks for animals, as one would receive with a child, the ability to will one’s estate to an animal, and to refer to one’s animal as a fur baby or child. In reality, the zealous attitudes of many pet owners noted in the essay, smacks of religious fanaticism in some ways, where the animal is elevated to some saint-like or almost pious being, with its humans worshipping at the canine or feline altar.
As to any comments equating dog ownership with adopting or fostering a child, the author does as solid job of acknowledging the moral benefit of having compassion and the ability to care for something other than one’s self. However, it remains equally important to acknowledge the fact that there are many humans, including an abundance of children who genuinely need compassion and care themselves. Pedersen does a good job of advocating for making a difference in the lives of children through programs such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and actually hits the nail head on in noting that we care more about saving endangered species at times than we do about other human beings.
While Pedersen’s article resonates well for the most part, there are moments where her logic is a bit difficult to follow. For instance, where she is seemingly sympathetic to the plight of the poor dog, who will never admire works of art, or read a book, or gaze at the stars. This would clearly appear to smack of sarcasm, and regrettably devalues the worth of her other extremely cogent and appropriate arguments. She becomes equally outrageous in the dialogue hypothesizing about a pet’s right to bite people or to chase livestock, and similarly with the notion that dogs lack the ability to visualize themselves as obese or ill-mannered, when in effect, all they desire is to leave their scent on the side of a tree.
These shortcomings notwithstanding, Pedersen’s work is a pleasurable and witty read.