Don’t Give Your Dog An Instagram

@Trip_Kennedy likes the beach in Malibu, children’s books and has aspirations of becoming an actor in Hollywood. Trip is not a long lost Kennedy kid, he’s the 4-pound Maltese of my friend and he has his own Instagram and Facebook pages.

When I encouraged my friend, a single woman in her early 30’s to go ahead with getting a dog, I had advised her to make sure she had enough time to devote to it. I had no idea that she would become more devoted to the dog than anything else.

She treats Trip alternatively like a child and her lover. She speaks to the dog like a baby, cooing as she feeds and walks him. She asks the dog advice about her dating life and he stares back, undoubtedly thinking that if he could speak he’d tell her no one sane dates someone who has non-rhetorical conversations with their pet.

Thanks to the dog’s Instagram feed, I know they spent Valentine’s Day together on the beach, she ghost writing love proclamations on behalf of Trip to her (the modern equivalent to sending yourself flowers and chocolates). A few days prior to that Trip had a massage and lounged by the pool at the Sunset Tower Hotel.

The same friend threw a birthday party that I hosted for her dog. Invitations went out. We spent two hours decorating with streamers and balloons. There was a dog cake, doggie gift bags, as well as food and champagne for the humans in attendance. My own mother never made me a birthday this nice when I was a kid.

There is a breed of single women who have adopted dogs as stand-in children and boyfriends. Bereft of a man to give them attention or of kids on whom they can exercise their maternal instincts, they transfer all their affection onto their pet. These women call their dogs their “fur babies,” as if they were some sweet mutant they birthed themselves and not a distinct species.

This is cute and acceptable behavior for a teenage girl, but from a grown woman it is unbecoming. I have another friend who in unabashed confidence told me she loves her dog more than her human daughter. Indeed, she yells much more at her daughter than at the dog.

Dog mommies are the new cat ladies, only more annoying because they’re far more conspicuous. Whereas cats are confined to the home, dogs are trotted out everywhere and if you don’t like it then you’re a cold hearted Grinch.

I love my dog, but he’s a dog. Raj travels with me on airplanes (mostly because I can’t afford a sitter for the amount I’m away from home), sleeps on my bed and comes to hotels. But he stays in the room, he doesn’t sit next to me in the restaurant or join me on the dance floor at a night club. I’ve never referred to, or thought of Raj as my child, or of myself as a parent to him. Our relationship is that of a dog and his owner. I didn’t give birth to him, I bought him from a rescue agency for $350.

I had another friend, again a single woman in her early 30’s (notice a pattern here?), whose dog ended our friendship. I was sitting on the couch in her apartment when her dog jumped up and wedged himself on my lap. I tried to move him and he bit me. Rather than discipline her dog, she yelled at me instead for daring to disturb her pup.

A dog is not a human. They don’t expect or want to be treated like a person. They instinctively want a leader they can follow, not a crazy woman smothering them, stuffing them into sailors’ costumes, and dragging them around like a kitsch accessory to the Guggenheim.

This leads to all sorts of behavioral problems in the dog. Accustomed to the fawning attention their humans lavish on them, they grow to believe they are the leader of the pack and in charge of their owner. My friend’s dog is territorial and possessive over her, jumping on her while she eats, barking at her when he wants to be picked up, peeing out of dissatisfaction when he’s left alone.

If you can’t have a healthy relationship with a pet, how can you expect to have one with another human? Do you dog a favor: Get him a bone and take off that stupid outfit. TC mark

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