The Real L Woes: Animal Instincts

You’ve heard the rumors, and they’re simply not true: Not all lesbians are cat people. Sure my Instagram feed proves otherwise, that my lez friends are all a bit obsessive and spend most Friday night’s lounging in piles of cats, but The Real L Word told me differently. They showed that any real group of lesbians includes an innumerable amount of dogs. I’ll go one step further and say that lesbians are simply, animal people. I will admit that I’ve enjoyed the company of a feline before, and have made attempts to cuddle ferrets, rabbits and birds. I guarantee there’s a lesbian out there right now who’s sewing a tiny, waterproof bandana for their little Nemo and even Ellen and Portia have horses.

Like most lesbians I too am obsessed with my animal, the corgi, and she has responded by solving all of my problems. There are no words that quite describe how mommy’s little proactive life force that has changed my life for the better but, I’ll try, all the while your cat continues to sit on your keyboard.

At 26, I was on a one-way train to, well, 30. As a job-hopping, underemployed millennial suffering a string of failed relationships with a wicked awesome binge drinking habit, I was living through a series of trials and tribulations of the lesbian kind. On my worst days I found myself on my therapist’s couch and in my time of great upheaval and uncertainty, she advised me to get a dog. At first, that seemed on par with giving a puppy to an unfocused child. And it was, but months later, after two more cross-country moves and in the midst of the loneliest relationship I had ever been in, I was offered a free dog and accepted.

I quickly found that my dog fixed everything. Not only was she magnetic, but she served as distraction from my terrible relationship. She was a therapeutic catalyst, through her necessity to pee outside and run in rapid circles around squirrels, to get me to venture out into the world instead of staying in to nurse another hangover or broken heart. She was my little conversation starter, helping me to connect with other homos at the dog park, and the hot ladies behind the counter at the pet store.

She became integral to my date selection process. I now had to think about her needs and be more selective, dating other dog people of which she approved. Dogs are great judges of character, and on more than one occasion I would see her physically disapprove of someone I brought home. Her bullshit meter has never been off. Where I had once found myself relentlessly chasing the dream of finding a partner, pretending to be ok with my single status, I now found myself with a constant companion who didn’t complain about my wanting to revisit Lois & Clark on Netflix. No longer did I feel pressure to just settle for a warm body, I now felt more confident in my alone time and started to actually date people I liked.

That structure and focus carried into all parts of my life, from making sure I pulled myself out of bed at a decent hour, to keeping me from engaging in bad life choices and one-night stands. And even when I ended up partying a little too hard or heaven forbid woke up hungover, she was right there with me keeping her judgment to herself with all fours in the air like she didn’t care. She expected me to drink less, budget for her food more and exhaust her energy by the end of the day. Seems I was now in charge of keeping something alive and thriving and coincidentally was doing the same for myself.

It is that feeling that I often compare to having children. In recent history, I’ve found myself in conversations about my friends’ kids, biting my tongue from relating on their level with stories about my dog. Spoiler alert: Not all women love babies, and there being two of us doesn’t increase those odds. Sure, many of my lesbian friends have succumbed to their innate maternal instinct, but just as many make the choice to stop at fur babies. Adopting a pet is one step past the plant experiment, one step easier than paying for college and just as fulfilling and rewarding, calling on the same range of feelings that humans have for their offspring. When most of my high school peers started popping out kids, I was walking my dog.

And when the love in my relationships falls short, my dog is there with her dumb face and tail wags to act as a willing furry shoulder to cry on. Dog love lacks the expectation that is often the unspoken flaw between humans. I am continually accused by my mom and girlfriends that I feel more strongly towards the dog than them, which isn’t exactly false seeing that human love often finds me questioning my ability to reciprocate. Having a dog has helped me acknowledge that I do, in fact, have the capacity to love. Something for which my loved ones should be lavishing her with praise.

I very much believe that canine’s are greater than most people and I am very willing to choose her companionship over anyone else’s, any day of the week. Even on Friday night. She’s the most naturally funny creature I know and remains unfazed when I practice my Evanescence karaoke skills in the car. More importantly, I rarely seek out my therapist anymore. When times get rough, and I need someone to talk to, I can just turn to the dog. She’s an attentive listener who will listen to any sob story and high five me after, no matter what. She’s my life coach, my running partner, my boo and my fur baby. Turns out, there were words strong enough.