I’m sure there is some psychological concept for this phenomenon. Sometimes it’s subtle. Sometimes not so much. The guy with the blond shaggy beard and his brown collie in tow (know anyone like that?) – the steroid junkie and his pit bull sporting matching collars – the petite and trim waif and her chihuahua… then of course the piece de resistance – the woman with her identical daughters and dog all wearing the same T-shirt.
No where is this more true than in NYC. While some maintain their identity by the clothes they where or the cars they drive, New Yorkers have a penchant for adopting pups in their own image.
I noticed this many times during my tenure and visits to the big apple. I am reminded of the first day I observed the relevance of this theory. Sitting in a basket outside a shop in Hell’s Kitchen was this miniature snicker-doodle-ragamuffin-thing-a-ma-dog. White(ish), with numerous ponytail holders – of numerous color in numerous places, coagulating bundles of un-brushed hair in to what I can only assume would be the outcome of a puppy attack on the hair care products isle of your local Duane Read. What’s worse is that this pitiful looking animal was, I can only assume – self aware. Either she knows she looked ridiculous or picked up on the pitiful stares that continued to befall her.
As I passed this side show I asked myself what the owner must look like. So intrigued was I, that I thought about stopping and waiting when it arrived:
Imagine the illegitimate love child of Pippy Longstocking and Cindy Lauper, circa 1988. She looked EXACTLY like her dog. Colors, bracelets, ear rings, calico clothing, bandannas,sandals with flowers on them, funky glasses…It was like the 80’s threw up on both of them. There they were; ‘bad taste lost in time’ and ‘mini me’….I managed to hold back all but an audible chuckle.
The really funny part was that the dog didn’t perk up when she arrived. This LOUD, flamboyant throw back to every fashion faux pas imaginable (all at once!) appeared to embarrass the dog even further…
I can’t image what is more frustrating: an un-empowered dog that is self aware, or an owner that isn’t. The simple answer is that we tend to try to portray to others the image we have of ourselves. Are we cute? Tough? Playful? Scruffy? There was a time when I noticed the only time I shaved was when I noticed Max, my border collie, looking a little ragged. The question isn’t why – it’s “When have we gone too far?”
For me, I draw the line in a very specific, non-wavering location. The day my dog looks up at me and says, “Dude. You’re killin’ me…”, I’ve crossed it.
‘course, that’s just how it looked through my eyes. Your view may be different…