The most hostile letters I have ever received as an editor had nothing to do with hot-button ethical, religious or political issues. They were in response to a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek column a decade ago about how some people treat their dogs like humans.
The impetus for the column was my learning that some friends had turned down a free trip to Hawaii (a company award for a good sales year) out of fear that their dog would miss them too much. I couldn’t imagine skipping the chance to sit on a Maui beach, while drinking something cold and eating chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, out of fear that Fido might have separation anxiety.
The negative response from dog owners to my wisecracks was overwhelming. One 83-year-old woman said I should be fired — or worse.
She loved her two dogs as much as she did the two daughters she had raised, she assured me. (The woman added that her dogs sleep in the garage every night — but I didn’t dare ask about the daughters’ sleeping arrangements during their upbringing.)
But since I had not been a dog owner since my teen years, there was little to offer in defense. You would have thought I was Michael Vick.
However, that all changed as of yesterday. The Grinch-editor’s heart must have grown three sizes over recent years.
After months of persisting requests from our younger daughter, we adopted lively and lovable Spencer from Save A Pet in tiny Bolingbroke, Ga.
No dog has ever been more warmly welcomed into a new home. Spencer is getting the best of hugs, food, exercise and security.
But just in case I win a free trip to Hawaii, a list of local dogsitters is also being compiled.
I think even Spencer would understand — especially if we brought a bright floral shirt to him upon our return.