It was a sunny Friday afternoon, and Emery Robinson, 23, and her black lab puppy, Moakley, were enjoying themselves in a dog park: Moakley tussling with peers, Robinson talking dog minutia with other owners. But a dark cloud loomed: a weekend barbecue at her boyfriend’s parents’ house, a party to which Moakley, 80 pounds of goofiness, was specifically not invited.
“It kind of hurts my feelings,” said Robinson, the communications director at a mental health facility, as Moakley cruised by for a pat, pink tongue lolling. “Your dog is an extension of yourself.”
At a time when owners are increasingly humanizing their animals–socializing together at “yappy hours,” vacationing at pet-friendly hotels, throwing “bark mitzvahs,” treating pooches to yoga, art classes, and designer wardrobes–humans have started feuding over something new: the pet snub.
“We did not get a dog to leave him alone on the weekends,” said Amy Duverger, a massage therapist, after a host–or would-be host–ignored several texts from Duverger asking if Wrigley, a 7-month-old lab-hound mix, was welcome at the party.
Wrigley, his owners finally understood, was not on the guest list, so Duverger and her partner sent a final text: “We have other plans.”….ouch again!
Animal groups routinely tout studies showing that pets reduce stress, which is no doubt true, except when they increase it. After the texting exchange, the host “vented” that she was upset, Duverger said. Of course, she and her partner were not happy either.
And don’t get Lauren Weiner started on the friend who said she couldn’t bring her dog to a beach weekend on the shore. “She said the dogs would never stop playing and it would be annoying,” said Weiner, an event planner who was hanging out recently at a dog-friendly cafe and bakery.
But it was Weiner who got annoyed–and said no to the weekend. “What really bothers me is that she’s one of those people who brings her dog everywhere she goes.”
No data has been collected, thus far, on the number of pet-related arguments. But numbers indicating signs of attachment between owners and their pets are growing. At the same time, there’s no reason to think that people who are not enamored with pets have changed their minds.
Can’t we all just get along?