Illustration by Grace Wilson
Cute pictures of a dog inside.
I came into this world solo, and I plan on leaving in the same manner. I'm a lone wolf. My internal monologue (and occasional ringtone) is Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Alone Again (Naturally)". Now, don't get me wrong—I like a good fingerjob, and could certainly use one, but I'm not going to listen to some Midwestern transplant with meaningless tattoos I found on Tinder talk about his "freak folk" band in order to get it.
I don't need a goddamned date on a meaningless holiday to validate my existence, thank you very much. But when the opportunity arose to go on a Valentine's Day date with a dog described as "eligible," I figured I had nothing to lose. At the very least, dogs don't talk.
Her profile stated she liked "chewing, treats and wagging [her] tail." That's three things she has in common with my ex-husband, I thought. Perhaps a doomed, ill-advised love affair would blossom with her, too.
I scheduled my date via an app called BarkN'Borrow, which the New York Times describes as "Tinder for dog dating." I found the comparison less than apt, as I didn't plan on committing bestiality with the dog in question—rather, I intended on using it merely for companionship. Let the record show I've never met anyone who has used Tinder merely for companionship.
I was set up with #5 on BarkN'Borrow's list of the "Top 5 Most Eligible Dogs for a Valentine's Dog Date in L.A.", a 6-month-old Basset Hound/Beagle mix named Mila. Her profile stated she liked "chewing, treats and wagging [her] tail." That's three things she has in common with my ex-husband, I thought. Perhaps a doomed, ill-advised love affair would blossom with her, too.
I identify as bisexual and my rationale for bisexuality is simple: I find an overwhelming majority of human beings abhorrent, so I'll take a chance on anyone, regardless of gender, who doesn't make me violently ill. Hell, at this point, I'll give anything a chance. If I happened to meet a dog who also got violently upset whenever people brought dogs into bars, and we hit it off, I'd put a leash on it.
Mila's status as a cis brown and white female only intrigued me further.
That being said, I am not a dog person. Generally speaking, I view them with wariness and distrust, ever since one bit me—without my consent—at the tender age of 16. Hatred and disgust, however, is my general attitude toward men as well, ever since one fucked me without my consent at the tender age of 17. And I still date them. Why not, then, date a dog?
The night before my date, I showed my friend Lil' Mama a photo of Mila. The squeal of "Awww!" she elicited upon looking at the dog's adorable visage made my barren womb twinge. I passed the photo around at a party—nearly everyone reacted in the same matter. My friends, it seemed, were collectively more excited by the prospect of my dating a dog than a human suitor. I get it, I thought to myself. It's cute. Floppy ears, the whole nine. "If it pisses on any of my shit, I'm gonna drop kick it," I muttered under my breath.
Which I certainly could have done, had I been a monster. Really, the only qualification I displayed to borrow Mila was a willingness to do so.
"I wouldn't trust my dog with a stranger," Lil' Mama said.
But isn't putting your dog on an app the same as putting yourself on Tinder, I asked? Even worse, actually, since you're trusting your own body with a stranger? Isn't your body more valuable than a dog's?
"No," she replied. Touché.
I hate the beach anyhow, and my future dog wife would have to accept that. I decided, instead, to take her for a walk and engage in some light play. Which, now that I think about it, sounds like most dates I've been on.
A few days prior, I had watched a TV news segment about a woman who brought her "emotional service" animal, a potbellied pig, on a plane. The "illness" she used to justify this behavior was that she used to be anorexic. I used to be anorexic—after all, I'm a fucking woman, and this is Earth—but you don't see me schlepping a pig around because of it. Petting the pig while her seatmate struggled to smile through her disgust, the woman informed the viewing public "petting an animal reduces stress levels." Before I pet Mila, while I was still waiting and wondering, my stress levels weren't particularly low.
What the fuck was I going to do with her?
Could you smoke in front of a dog?
Not only would I be interacting with her, I would be dating her. Where do people go on dates? I wondered. To bars? Good God, I refused to be that person. People who bring dogs into bars silently cry-scream "Look at me!" They are the pet-owning equivalents of people who wear Cat in the Hat hats in non-rave environments and get lip gauges in non-National Geographic environments. They are pitiful.
To the beach? A melody instantly popped into my head:
Fur baby, fur baby
There in the sand
Can you help me forget
No, that wouldn't do. I hate the beach anyhow, and my future dog wife would have to accept that. I decided, instead, to take her for a walk and engage in some light play. Which, now that I think about it, sounds like most dates I've been on.
After being dropped off by her grinning, well adjusted owners, I lead her into my apartment. One of the first things she did after settling down was sniff my crotch. OK, I thought to myself, I guess this IS a date. She immediately lost interest in my nether regions. It was definitely a date.
Her leash, collar, toys and food bowl, I noticed, were all color-coordinated shades of pink. She was girlier than what I was usually attracted to, but I made a point to remind myself that the heart wants what it wants.
She immediately took to looking out the window, ignoring my presence—this act, which mirrored that of my past partners, endeared me to her. Apathetic about everything, up to and including the act of playing, she begrudgingly allowed me to pantomime tug of war; I knew, however, that her heart wasn't in it. We stared at each other in silence.
Lil' Mama came over, and she perked the fuck up at Mila's presence. I asked why she found me less exciting than Mila.
"They can feel the love," Lil' Mama replied as Mila licked her face.
But I can't just love something I've hardly met! I thought. The implications of this statement on my human dating life were not lost on me.
We walked Mila to the home of my friends Kelly and Caitlin, as they have a yard and I have a fetid studio apartment. On the way, she tried to eat a discarded taco and a banana peel. I found the constant struggle of extricating things from her mouth instantly tedious. This is fun? I thought. People like this? Are you fucking kidding me? I realized I felt the same way about dating, which was why I generally abstained.
She was a puppy, with the energy to match. Dating her was tantamount to dating a young, dumb, and full-of-cum human. Still curious and not beaten down by life yet, I found her enthusiasm exhausting. The older I get, the more my taste in mates leans toward the elderly. They, like me, realize the futility of exploration.
When trotted around the public, all eyes gravitated toward her, in much the same way eyes gravitate toward eligible bachelors and bachelorettes. Mila did, indeed, deserve to be on a Top 5 list, even though her profile photo showed a cuter, younger version of herself. But isn't that the case whenever you date someone you found online? At least she was the same breed as her picture.
Watching her run circles around Kelly and Caitlin's backyard, a bouncing Superball of energy, I felt nothing. There was no spark, no connection. No future for us. On the car ride back to her owners' place, I looked down at her, peering up at me in a manner that almost suggested love. In her eyes, I'm sure we had a lovely afternoon. In mine, I was counting the clock, waiting for it to end.
Like a one night stand, I dropped her off, glad she wasn't mine.
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