Why Are Dogs Always to Blame?

The trio back from a walk.
Darla at 3 months or so
Darla loves to torment Air Bud
They like to keep me company when I write.

I feel bad for dogs.

I have always been fond of animals and would probably have a small zoo if life allowed. But the older I get, the more partial I am to dogs. It’s their personality and nature. They are simple, yet smart, good-hearted and genuine, steadfastly loyal and somewhat laughable. They are also, in part, what I aspire to be – perennially happy and grateful.

Yet, did you ever notice that dogs are usually to blame? I witnessed this growing up with a dog in the family home and as a parent who raised her sons with dogs in the home.  My sister, brother and I grew up in the era of “You can’t leave the table until you finish your plate.” It was a form of torture for my sister, Tammy. She ate to live, not lived to eat, and big meals certainly weren’t her thing. Include vegetables like peas as part of the meal, and forgetaboutit. This daily ritual ended up with Tammy becoming quite experienced with standoffs with my parents, albeit standoffs sit down style, to see who would give in first.

That was at least until she came to the realization that my parents didn’t stipulate how she had to finish her dinner. In her mind, that meant she could share with Tiger, the family dog. Problem was Tiger didn’t like the little, round fibrous vegetables either. Inevitability, an assortment of green balls would end up lying around on the white laminate floor – impossible to miss.  As far as Tammy was concerned, Tiger was to blame. How was she supposed to know he didn’t like peas?

Tiger, God bless him, never seemed to mind getting blamed for that or the 1,000s of other acts we all blamed on him as kids.

It must be a family trait because my sons have done the same thing – though usually while at school.  Yeah of all the things in the house, the dog ate that one slip of paper.

Who am I kidding? My family isn’t alone. Ever been in a room that suddenly gets a bad odor and a nearby dog is blamed? (Well with bulldogs, it probably is the dog.)

Yeah, these poor lovable creatures get the blame from all sides.

They don’t deserve it. Sure, they may have chewed a shoe or two in their past, or relieved themselves on your carpet. You’re not perfect either. They aren’t malicious. And no matter how difficult life can be, they are always there right beside you. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted my sons to grow up with dogs.

David, my oldest, chose our first dog. We went to a shelter in rural Ohio that been overwhelmed with dogs when the town’s major employer moved south. Many residents up and left and apparently forgot to take their dog with them. The shelter was so full there were makeshift dividers on every square foot on their floor, minus a pathway. Several dogs had litters there –  including one part Labrador, golden retriever and Australian Sheperd.

My son rounded a corner at the shelter, and he immediately became latched onto the rut in the litter of that Lab/Retriever/Shepderd mix. The pup was the only one waiting patiently for someone to come his way, but as soon as his siblings noticed people he was overrun as they started to jump at the chance for attention. David saved him and named him Air Bud, in hopes that he would be like the dog from the movies and play sports with him. Twelve years later the two are still the best of friends.

Foolish of me not to have anticipated this, but then my younger son, Andy, then wanted a dog too.  This time we headed for another shelter in southern Ohio on the edge of the Appalachian Mountain range that had an abundance of dogs and very little funding. I was rooting for him to pick Molly Moo, a very rotund bulldog who would dance on command.  But there was one little pup, a poodle mix of some kind, curled in a ball, and all alone under a heat lamp. He was the last of his litter and my son couldn’t bear to leave him. He named him Titan, an ironic big name for a little dog with huge abandonment fears.

Years past and our home was always active, but nearly perfect.

I still wanted a bulldog. I applied to adopt rescues, but bulldogs are popular pooches so the list can be long, and my patience isn’t. In the summer of 2020 I convinced myself it was okay to adopt a pure-bred Engligh Bulldog. By now, the solitude of COVID-19 had me yearning for some laughs.  I do think English bulldogs are beautiful and adorable under those rolls of wrinkles, but I was anxious for a source of laughter in my day and a new friend. Their round bodies, stubby legs and wrinkly butt  make climbing a challenge. But that’s one of the loves of bulldogs. They don’t give up and they just don’t care.

My Darla is the same. I don’t care how many times she will build up speed and buzz past Air Bud trying to get him to play, she inevitably ends up running into a wall or two.  We all wince for her, but in a second she’s back at it again.

And yes, our house is a little crazier these days. Between the three of us and three dogs, something is breaking, being eaten (that shouldn’t) or otherwise missing. But I love it.

The reason I started feeling bad for dogs the other day, was because of something I read in the news. It was a story written in the peak of the 2020 Presidential election and centered on a study released by the Brennan Center for Justice called  “The Truth About Voter Fraud.”  Much to my surprise, there it was again; dogs were being blamed.  The Brennan Center study focused on a lot of different voter fraud claims including that people sign their dog up to vote as a way to sway elections.

In all, they discovered nine “reports” of dogs being on the voter rolls. Only two were actual voting attempts. In 2006 and 2007,  “Duncan McDonald” voted, but was kind enough to leave a paw print and mark void on his ballot. A few years before that, a ballot belonging to  “Raku” was cast.  This ballot was only for a local election in California, not a presidential race, but was mistakenly counted.

You can decide for yourself what to make of those cases, or what to think about election fraud given that more examples weren’t found.

It just had me shaking my head. We are all so similar.  Poor dogs, hopefully they don’t always realize they are being blamed.

But I can’t dwell on it long. I really am looking for my missing watch. Darla?

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