There’s nothing that gives a writer more of a sense of satisfaction and self-worth than drawing a reaction from his readers. So you can imagine how I usually feel after my column runs, when I’m sitting fruitlessly in front of my e-mail screen like a deluded Charlie Brown parked at his mailbox waiting for Valentines.
But not this time. Yes, I’ve written in the past about such hot-button topics as the end of the world, marital smell issues and humanity’s inevitable subjugation by killer robots, to nary a peep of feedback. But my February column on “Signs You May Be Living With Dogs” has drawn a steady (furry) flurry of e-mail responses, which can only lead me to one of the following conclusions: Even more people have dogs than I thought, or dogs have finally learned how to use the Internet.
You can see the full array of responses at The Longest Tail blog (blogs.wickedlocal.com/longesttail), and I recommend that you do, if only to reassure yourself that despite the fact there is probably a dog sleeping next to you in bed right now, perhaps one whose picture you put on your Christmas cards and whom you dress in little doggie sweaters, there is someone out there who is way, way more wacky a dog owner than you. OK, a lot of someones.
Meanwhile, here are a few of my favorite responses so far. Keep those e-mails coming! If your dogs haven’t chewed through your computer cord, that is.
You may be living with dogs if:
1) You have “baby safety” gates in doorways and across stairways, but you don’t have a baby.
2) You begin conversations with others by saying, “Sit, stay, speak.”
3) You catch yourself saying, “sit,” “stay” and “down” to your kids.
4) When the snow melts, your lawn is declared a Superfund site
5) When you move the furniture you find someone living under there.
6) Your coffee does not taste right without a few hairs.
7) The kitchen floor stays clean … for an hour.
8) There’s nose art on all the windows.
9) There’s lots of snoring in your bed and it isn’t your fiancé.
10) You often wear a fur coat and yet have never purchased one.
11) It sounds like Harpo Marx is in your living room.
12) Your household toys need to be squeakeotomized.
13) You have a huge collection of tennis balls, but there are no rackets to be found anywhere.
14) You actually bought an item called “Doggles.”
15) You add a paw to all of the cards you send to family and friends.
16) “Going to the spa” does not pertain to yourself or any two-legged member of your family.
17) Fur on your clothes doesn’t count as a reason to wash them.
18) The furniture that brings you the fondest memories are the pieces with teeth marks.
19) You always have to buy an extra ice cream cone (or hamburger, hold the pickle) for the hairy kid in the back seat.
20) The bank teller sends out biscuits instead of money.
21) You are always greeted warmly at the front door by someone who missed you terribly, is ridiculously excited that you are home and is COMPLETELY starving. (“Seriously, feed me now or I might pass out right here.”)
22) You carry towels in your trunk for impromptu river swims.
23) Stuffed animals living in your house have extremely short life expectancies.
24) The cats have to jump up on the counter to eat their dinner and you don’t apologize to company.
25) At Christmastime, there are stockings for “Santa Paws” to fill.
26) You know the names of all the dogs in the neighborhood, but not the owners’ names.
27) You step in indoor puddles, and the moisture is not from leaking pipes.
28) Leashes and collars are considered “fashion accessories.”
30) You always feel like you are the greatest, most wonderful person in the entire world.
And you’ll keep feeling that way, as long as the bank teller keeps sending out those biscuits.
Peter Chianca is a managing editor for GateHouse Media New England. This year he’ll be taking an occasional detour from his “At Large” column to write about life with pets — you can follow his animal-related musings at twitter.com/longest_tail.