other day I heard about a dog committing suicide. But the dog was
blind, so it was up for debate. One neighbour believed the dog knew
what he was doing when he "jumped" down the stairwell.
Another neighbour swore it was an accident and he slipped. Given
the dog was old, that was also a factor. "They should have
put that dog in therapy long ago," said the man who insisted
it was suicide.
In New York, even dogs
have therapists. When my friend Heather had a baby, her dog, Bud,
was put on Prozac because he wouldn't eat or wag his tail. Finally,
a dog I could relate to. "I don't know what to do,"
she said, "he's so depressed."
I've never wanted a dog before, but a dog
that wants to lie in bed all day and doesn't care about going
out? When I heard that I said: "Bring him over." He
arrived with two cases and his own bed. I was feeling even more
of a bond. A dog that packs more than I do: his special food,
his toys, his hairbrush and his pills.
Dogs in New York are so stressed that in
the past two years three dog spas have opened in my neighbourhood.
And a doggy gym for the ones who don't like walkies. I wonder
if dogs size each other up in the gym? Would a mutt be considered
less attractive then a poodle? Or what about the little fat dog?
Is she in the corner because nobody's interested in her? The popular
dogs must make the antisocial dogs feel like crap. I've always
thought a dog's life was problem-free, but maybe it's just as
rough for them as it is for the rest of us. I wonder if there's
a stigma attached to being depressed when they're around their
friends. It's not like they can hide it if they're not sniffing
the things they used to.
Being a dog in New York must be brutal.
Chances are, you live in a tiny apartment with very little light
and a view of the lamppost, 20 floors down.
If you belong to a single woman, your only
job in life is to be upbeat and ready for a cuddle when your owner
returns from a bad date or a friend's wedding. If your owner is
a single straight man, you know you were purchased as a puppy
as a way to pick up women. Now that you're full-grown and losing
your cuteness, you've served your purpose and have anxiety attacks
about being given away.
If your owners are a family, you've been
ignored since the baby arrived or, if you're a playmate for the
children, you're exhausted from being treated like a living stuffed
animal. If your owner is a gay man, you're stuck in a Burberry
raincoat every time there's a drizzle, and if you belong to a
model, your paws never touch the pavement.
The only dogs in New York that seem well
adjusted are the ones jumping out of the Wagging Tail van on their
way home from doggy daycare in the country. That's because they
don't have to go to the toilet on the sidewalk. Dogs always look
embarrassed when they're pooping on the street. They have a look
that says: "Can I get a little privacy?"
It's perfectly reasonable that a dog would
commit suicide. Not being cute enough, having a bark that's too
loud, having to be cheerful because that's what they're here for.
If I was a depressed dog and my owner was telling me to cheer
up all the time, I would jump too.