Marriage and the modern mutt

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The pending divorce of Al and Tipper Gore has shaken the “marital community” to its foundation, but the New York Times reaches an intriguing level of marital advice today by suggesting we can enhance our marriages by taking a lesson from our pets.


She argues that we all have much to learn from the way we love our pets. People often describe pets as undemanding and giving unconditional love, when the reality is that pets require a lot of time and attention, special foods and care. They throw up on rugs, pee in the house and steal food from countertops. Yet we accept their flaws because we love them so much.

Dr. Phillips suggests we can all learn how to improve our human relationships by focusing on how we interact with our pets. Among her suggestions:

Greetings: Even on bad days, we greet our pets with a happy, animated hello, and usually a pat on the head or a hug. Do you greet your spouse that way?

Well, no, not exactly. But to be honest with you, a pat on the head has never worked well for Mrs. News Cut. Neither does putting her in a kennel at night or walking with a leash attached. Let’s just say that a dog is a dog and a spouse is a spouse and even the New York Times can engage in a desperate search to fill online space.

It’s true that the official dog of News Cut — Luci the Blog Dog — is an engaging personality and full of adoration for her masters, but the notion that dogs (and other pets) have a level of loyalty that mere mortals cannot duplicate is, well, nonsense.

The other day, for example, Luci was by my side, doing that loyalty thing, when a rabbit came by. No amount of calling, cajoling,bribing, or whining would deter the mutt from her desire to chase the rabbit.

Loyalty works only up to the point of temptation.

Many of the readers who bothered to comment on the article did a fine job of schooling the Times:


I think this idea is kind of ridiculous. The reason we easily forgive our pets is because we know that they lack the cognitive capabilities that humans posess. Pets don’t think beforehand of , for example, well if I do x, y, and z my owner may feel this way or that way. They are trained for certain actions and know those actions illicit a response, for example, pee outside or I will get into trouble. But spouses aren’t “trained” to be a certain way. They have their own thought processes and can reason and weigh the pros and cons of their actions, and the effect that those actions may have on their partner. That is why we more easily forgive our pets than our partners. In essence, our partners should know better, whereas our birds are mere birds.

Or put another way, not treating spouses like dogs is what the ’60s and ’70s were all about.

  • Bob Moffitt

    Love the photo of Luci. Several pictures of our Beagle-Jack– we have had him for 5 years now — are on my desk. Yes, I have two photos of my wife, too.

  • Heather

    Wait. I thought the ’60’s and ’70’s were all about love meaning never having to say you’re sorry! Shoot.

  • Mrs. Newscut

    Does this mean I can stop licking your face when you come home? LOL..

    but seriously..

    Nice piece of writing

  • Jamie

    Ha!! “Mrs. News Cut” :oD

    Cute photo…

  • http://www.skyseastone.net/jvstin Paul Weimer

    That picture of Luci is dying for a caption.

    “Stop blogging and let’s play!”

  • Mrs. News Cut

    Caption: Yes, my eyes do glow in the dark… Human, you must do as I bid…”

  • One of your outlaws

    But there is nothing like when you come home at the end of the day, and being greeted by your dog who acts like he /she has not seen you in 10 years, and the tail is wagging, and the eyes are smiling at you with such adoration. Can make a bad mood disappear in a nanosecond! Enjoyed the piece!

  • bigalmn

    Hey Bob, your doing dog stories and the StarTribune blog scoops you on Dale Connelly being axed. What gives, your suppose to be a news hound?

  • Bob Collins

    I got your innuendo, but when MPR made the announcement — no sleuthing needed, the company issued a release, I was writing the suicide story.

    Spend 5,6 hours working on a story like that, and you’d be writing dog stories, too.

    Oh, and by the way, the Strib didn’t have it. I did.