Wednesday, June 09, 2004

What Little Dogs Can Do...

The ‘Metrosexual’ is old news now – a word, a descriptor and a fad already in danger of overexposure, and just a few repetitions away from certain inclusion on one of those yearly lists of over-used and abused words and phrases.
But the changes that created the term and the changes that continue to shape the hairier sex are evergreen. The times they are a-changing – and men appear to be at the forefront… though in actual practice, trailing behind with little plastic bags…
Case in point: driving along today to drop the dog off at the Poodle Parlour for a wash, trim and spit-shine, I couldn’t help but notice the curiously large number of men out walking their dogs.
Their little dogs. Their cute little dogs. Their pocket puppies – the Shitzuhs, Lhasa Apsos, Yorkies, Poodles, Bichon Frizes, Pomeranians, Maltese, Jack Russells, Fox Terriers and Mini Dobermans. A plethora of pooches – and all of them, just as teeny tiny, as cosseted and petted and adorable as you can imagine.
Of course I was looking; like the phenomenon that occurs when you decide to buy a new car and suddenly discover the roads are stretched to the sidewalks with whatever it is you fancy, my enforced attendance lately at vet clinics (clutch the pearls - she’s going to be fine) and a visit to the recent ‘Woofstock’ dog appreciation day in the Distillery District, have opened my eyes to the statistical anomaly that presents us with an abundance of large straight men lavishing affection on their small fey dogs.
When did this happen? Why did this happen? Is it possible men are finally uncovering their inner-nurturer?
Eleven years ago when I was bringing home the approximately 13 ounces of animated dryer lint I call Lily, while men were no doubt interested in the tiny Yorkshire Terrier (many with that detached, scientific ‘how do they get the ship in the bottle?’ sort of curiousity that would explain how such an insubstantial little thing could be the same species as a Great Dane) there was a definite reticence in actually being seen alone with her.
And honestly, we’re not talking about a polish-clawed, diamond-collared and be-bowed mass of dog obsessed fussiness - she was (and remains) a rough and tumble, spike-collared, dragged through a hedge backwards kind of miniature hairball, but for all of that, to most of the men I knew then (including the homosexual ones) she was just too gay to go walkies with.
Things are entirely different now. Yesterday at the vet for instance, I shared the waiting room with three guys, all of us lap-loaded with our furry babies. There was the construction worker type carrying his Jack Russell (who was doing an dead-on impression of Mimi from La Boheme… right down to the subtle little coughs and obsequious, pleading, tear-filled eyes) who needed constant cuddling and bizarre baby-talk to offset the stress of his yearly heartworm test; the lawyer beside me, on the cell to his wife to say he wasn’t leaving until he heard from the vet himself that Percy the apricot miniature Poodle was going to survive the (invisible to my eye) limp he’d been displaying since jumping off the bed that a.m.; and the huge Greek guy, sweating and pacing, trying to compose himself enough to hand over his mini long-haired Dachshund to the veterinary assistant to have his (the dog's) toenails clipped.
I was gob-smacked. Gob-smacked, but encouraged. I mean, how big a leap is it from little dog-loving to increased sensitivity? I may be wildly extrapolating from an unscientific sample, but look around you – this is happening. And the complex emotions these guys are learning as they heap lashings of love on their tiny canines, bodes well for the future.
Because this is beyond Metrosexual: who cares if men shop for antiques, or cry at the movies, or co-ordinate closets, or enjoy spending a Saturday visiting open houses – that’s peanuts in the scheme of things.
What if they started to love cuddling and consoling, being patient and caring about our little aches and pains, comforting our fears?
What if they started listening when we called them to come?
I’ll tell you what – the rewards would be better than a biscuit.

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