Dogs vs. Birds
I like dogs. I’m what you might call a “dog person.” My dog, who my parents purchased somewhere in central Indiana in November 1999, is not only a great friend, but an important influence on my writing and art. Today, she sits approximately fifteen feet behind me staring out the window at the cold, gray earth. Did I mention she likes HTMLGIANT.
When I was growing up, a strong percentage of my favorite books were centered around dogs. There was Go, Dog. Go!—the second book I ever read. Then there were Marjorie Flack’s Angus books about a mischievous Scottish Terrier, not unlike the more popular The Poky Little Puppy, which as of 2001, was the single all-time best-selling hardcover children’s book in the country, selling nearly 15 million copies since its publication in 1942, according to Publishers Weekly. As I grew older still, I read Shiloh and, my favorite childhood novel, Where the Red Fern Grows. There was even a book narrated by a Pointer, read aloud in some public school setting, which has left an undying impression on me, years later. Needless to say, the dog books were a big part of my childhood.
Somewhere along the line, though, a shift occurred.
As I traded in my OshKosh B’Gosh for some Uniqlo slim fit jeans, learned about postmodern existentialism, began reading my Ann Beatties and David Foster Wallaces, I noticed fewer and fewer dogs appearing among the literatures’ central themes. But the animals weren’t gone—they had been replaced.
More and more, I saw birds where my beloved dogs once were. The incessant song of Murakami’s Wind-Up Bird. Lorrie Moore’s full-on symbolic flock of Birds of America. And I know nobody wants to hear anymore about Franzen for the next nine years, but who can forget last year’s bird-loving, glasses-wearing, activist-protagonist Walter Berglund.
Listen. I don’t care about birds. They’re pretty, but they can be pretty annoying. They’re noisy and the can’t sit still and then we’re expected to dangle food cylinders from our trees and deface their trunks with tiny ramshackle shelters. What did the birds ever do for me besides abandon me every winter to go chill in Florida? My heart is with the dogs. Where did they all go? Why are dogs reserved for children? Some might argue that I’m an adult, and I want some dogs.
There is a rift in the literary community and I’m not going to stay silent about it anymore. When can this divisive feud ever be peacefully resolved? I emailed Poe’s Raven, and he sent me back a discouraging reply. So I guess that’s it. Pick a side, dude. The end of times may not be here yet, but you can be damn sure it’s coming.