My pup at the Union Square dog run in Manhattan

November 15, 2019

"Can I Pet Your Dog?"

I get asked all the time by strangers, something to the effect of “Can I pet your dog?". People see her, think she's cute, and feel a sudden strong urge to touch her. Some people will just reach out without asking, but the majority of people ask first.

I don't object, but I'm not sure my dog always enjoys it when people put their hands on her, or in her face.

Shiba Inus are notorious for being—among other things—quite aloof at times. Sometimes when people go to pet or greet her, they expect her to behave similar to other dogs and reciprocate their excitement. However, in most cases, she doesn't care. Oftentimes she hardly acknowledges the person exists.

Some people have taken this as a personal slight against them. I try to warn people before petting her that there's a possibility she won't care.

Instant gratification

We live in an age of instant gratification. You can buy just about anything from Amazon and it will arrive in 1-2 days. You can order food from nearly any restaurant and it'll show up at your door within an hour. You can get a chauffer to pick you up wherever you are whenvever you want and drive you anywhere. Post a photo on Instagram and random strangers will give you praise without knowing who you are.

People seem to be conditioned now to expect that instant gratification everywhere, and when they don't get it there's a sort of cognitive dissonance between the expected gratification and what actually happens.

But what does it mean?

I don't know what it all means, I just find the phenomenon interesting. Life is easier now than it's ever been for most people, and yet if you read the news you'd think the world is near collapse (by the way, I suggest not reading the news unless you want your brain to rot).

We're not at war, there's plenty of food to go around, there's more wealth than ever before (albeit it's not well distributed), and yet many people are lonely and unhappy. A hot subject today is the “loneliness epidemic”, although whether it's actually an epidemic (a rapidly spreading infectious disease) or just the journalist topic du jour remains to be seen.

One suggestion I have for those people: get a dog, take walks, create things, have conversations with people offline, and spend more time outside with your face not glued to your phone.


© 2019 Brenden Matthews, some rights reserved.