Why is a woman's love for lapdogs considered embarrassingly sentimental when men bond so proudly with their well-built hounds? Married women admit they sleep with their dogs, and married men deny it; someone's not telling the truth, but who's lying, and why?Mikita Brottman, The Great Grisby: Two Thousand Years of Exceptional Dogs (New York: HarperCollins), Introduction.
Lapdogs . . . are associated with unfulfilled maternal instincts. While most people accept dogs as part of the family unit, they often feel uncomfortable in the presence of a childless woman and a dog, as if only when a dog's not really "needed" can it be loved appropriately. . . .Id., ch. 10.
It's an unfair stereotype, of course—all kinds of people, inclding men, dote on their dogs—but rather than debunking it, my first impulse is to distance myself from it. I feel compelled to make it very clear that, although I love my dog to distraction, I'm not one of those women, and Grisby is't one of those dogs He's not a Chihuahua or a shih tzu; he's a tough little bulldog, too heavy to ride in a carrier or snuggle on my lap. I want to deny and disavow, to insist how different my situation is, instead of thinking about why it's so hard for a woman who buys sweter for her dog to be taken seriously.
In some ways, after all, I am one of those women.