Sudha Menon “Are dogs our new kids?”


Are dogs our new kids? Just asking because lately, I have been experiencing the strangest things with my friends who have dogs. You drop in hoping for a good cup of tea and an interesting goss session and right away, just as soon as your bottom touches the sofa seat, they begin bombarding you with amusing stories of their clever dogs.

“Buster is as interested in the news as we are. He has been lying on the newspaper and even turning the pages, while we read our share of the paper,” one of them beamed the other day. “How clever,” I said weakly, hoping that Buster, who sat on the sofa across from me, never came visiting. I have nothing against dogs, but I draw the line at sharing my newspaper with them. Why, I never even share my newspaper with my spouse as we sit on the balcony every morning, he sipping ginger chai and trying to read the newspapers over my shoulder.

Then there is Diesel, the black-faced, evil-eyed hulk who thinks every visitor is a target for his Sumo wrestler act. The moment you ring the bell, quaking in your boots and praying the hulk is asleep, the flying missile hurls his 200 kg ( at least it seems like that) weight on your unsuspecting self and before you can say *&@^&*&, you are lying on the floor like a beached whale, while he perches on your belly licking your face. His bird-brained masters are too busy applauding his heroics to notice my trauma. Mental note to myself : One less place to go visiting.

The dog stories seem to be getting crazier by the day. There is the dog who must sit in the air-conditioned master bedroom and watch cartoon network for an hour before he goes to sleep. On his master’s bed. Near his face, looking into his eyes, before he falls asleep, proud owner tells me. And just when I thought it can’t get weirder, the other day I went someplace where the lady of the house waxed eloquent on a relative’s dog who, she insisted, is so intelligent that he can qualify for admission to Harvard University. Well, if Donald Trump can go live in the White House, why can’t a dog go to Harvard?

Like I said earlier, I have nothing against dogs except when they come and sniff at my Nether regions. No matter how many times I have gone into rigor mortis when this has happened at sundry dogged homes, I am unable to get used to this. Picture this: There you are, in your stylish new threads, standing tall in your insanely glamorous red stilettos, making conversation with rakishly good looking man you met at a friend’s house and suddenly you feel some movement in your netherlands. You look down and screech in terror. There is a dog in your crotch. Literally. The owner’s dog has somehow managed to stand up on its hind legs and is attempting to nuzzle your unmentionables and the whole world is watching. The rake is kind enough to reach out and unhook said dog from said place , laughing devilishly and all you want is to disappear into the ground.

“ Don’t worry about Sheba. She is just smelling your crotch to make friends with you,” mistress of the house purrs, passing around plates of hors d’oeuvres. In a saner world I used to know other ways of striking friendships. This experience is way more embarrassing than the friend’s dog that sidles up spends the evening trying to mate with the sofa leg!

Which brings me to the subject of dogs and kids. All of the above mentioned friends used to have kids who were certainly better behaved than the dogs. But they grew up and flew the coop and the parents decided to fill up the empty nest with dogs. Police, Lion, Tiger, Sasha, Mischa, Scarlett….. I wonder where the ordinary dog names disappeared. Growing up, the stray dogs I used to pick off the streets were named kaalu, raju, chintu, andat best, Ginny. I wonder if the new age dog names became glamorous around the same time as baby names went all glam- now there are Ahaanas, Aaalikas, Aaliyaas, Zoes, Moes, Alysas and Myras by the dozens and nobody calls their children Sudha, Anita, Sita, Gita, Rajesh, Vinod or Shankar anymore. Ditto with the starry dog names.

37230698 - dog staring at meat food

Here is my theory about why dogs are our new kids. When the kids were growing up they got expensive Adidas sneakers, hideous below- the- knee branded cargoes and even more hideous superman tees. The girls got hot pants, wedges, expensive blow drys and bags to flaunt. But when they grew up and left to build their own nests, the only way bereft parents can get over the weaning woes is to attach themselves to other beings: dogs. Besides, it helps that dogs are way more loyal and won’t ask to use your credit card to buy the latest gizmo. Now, these newbie dog parents spend their days being dragged along by them, on their morning walks. The other part of the day, of course, is spent on cooking for the dogs, taking them out for spa treats, shopping for booties and winter wear and, boring unsuspecting friends with stories of their dog’s brilliance. Same as we used to do with kids sometimes in the days gone by.

As for me, I am through with holding my breath and keeping my mouth shut in their homes, so that I don’t accidentally swallow the clouds of dog hair that float past my face languorously. I mean, have they never heard of a vacuum, or better yet the vacuums that are actually designed to deal with pet hair? Even I know you can find the best vacuum for dog hair at all great vacuums, so I’ll have to passive aggressively send them a link to it later. I have fewer friends now and, every day, I send up a silent prayer, fervently hoping that the remaining few of my friends don’t get it into their heads to acquire dogs. There used to be a time when childless couples were harassed beyond measure with tips on begetting children and even shamed sometimes for opting out of parenthood. Dog shaming has replaced this phenomenon now and I am being advised to get myself a dog so I am not so boring. Besides, I am told, I can join the dog-vacations that these folks push off to…If company is what I miss, I would rather check myself into the loony bin.


Pune365 : Stock Images used in this article are purely representative.

Sudha Menon

Sudha Menon

Sudha Menon is an Author, a Writing Coach and a Speaker on Gender and Diversity.

You can reach her on or her twitter handle@sudhamenon2006
Sudha Menon