CHARLES TUCKWELL ’18
People at Trinity are obsessed with their dogs. “Oh my god, I can’t wait to see my dog again” is a line all too easy to overhear during finals weeks. If you are unlucky, which you almost always are, the person speaking will shove a photo of their black Labrador in your face before you can count to three. Whether you want to see their dog is irrelevant. Your opinion of their dog’s aesthetic or speculated athletic ability or intelligence is of no concern to these dog lovers. They want to show you because they want to show you.
I think I speak on behalf of my fellow international students when I say, oh please, give us a break. Now, do not get me wrong, international students have and love pets too. The only difference is we do not feel the need to let the whole campus know old Boo Boo or Max is coming to visit next weekend. Seriously, we do not care. My frustration is not that Americans have dogs. Australia’s capital city, and my brother’s hometown, Canberra, has a 2:1 dog to human ratio. He himself is the proud owner of two dogs, a fantastically docile King Charles Terrier, ideal for warming your lap on a cold winter’s day, and a Pitbull mix, Sarah, whom he got from the pound for $80. Would you like to see a photo of her?
Indeed, I was once the proud owner of perhaps the best-looking Bichon Frise ever. Seriously, ask anyone. Incidentally, Rupert, the dog in question went crazy upon our family’s departure from Australia to the U.K., was prescribed various medications, and was promptly condemned to a dirt nap. It goes without saying that my frustration towards Americans and their dogs has absolutely nothing to do with the fact my dog was kidnapped from me at such a young age and against my will. No, what annoys me and what I have very little patience for, is Americans’ public adoration of their dogs. I should, I think, predicate this by noting that my experience in this is limited to the enclave of wealth and privilege that is Trinity. The adoration is, I suspect, a bourgeois trademark, which is why it is not hard to find a similar degree of adoration in other countries. Walk around Paris, for instance, and it won’t take long to find a housewife with a little Rupert look-alike in her handbag.
Trinity students’ obsession with their dogs is reflective of a bizarre attitude Americans have towards pet ownership. Llicensing requirements for exotic animals in U.S. states are suprisingly lenient. In Alabama, for instance, there are no licenses or permits required for ownership of exotic pets. In Florida, you can keep wolves and cougars, so long as you have the appropriate permit. In Louisiana, if your ancestor owned a bear when licensing laws were introduced, you are legally permitted to keep one today. But what are pets anyway? Whoever decreed that we humans have a right to enslave an animal for its entire life simply for our pleasure and enjoyment? “Hey man, we’re top of the food chain, alright?” OK, Brad, but let me throw you in a cage with your pet panther, unarmed, and let’s see who’s top of the food chain in ten minutes time. Just show me a picture of your dog and let’s call it a day.