One night, not so very long ago, you went to sleep a regular person, and you woke up a canine-fixated lunatic, single-mindedly obsessed with getting a dog. Obsessed. Obsessed. You never thought you'd be ready for the responsibility — not to mention all the money spent, all the life changes required, all the cleaning pee out of your carpets — but now, taking on that responsibility is practically all that you can think about. You spend your days in a dreamy haze, fantasizing about a future filled with tiny chew toys, miniature Christmas outfits and potty-training your little one. Your dog-ological clock has finally gone off, and you know in your heart, in your soul, in your dog bones, that you are finally mature enough to get a dog.
But what about the times when your dog-ological clock goes off and you still can't adopt a dog? Maybe your apartment doesn't allow dogs. Maybe you don't have the money or time to properly care for one. Maybe you know that, truthfully, you are not quite ready to give up your late nights of chocolate cake shots and flamboyant Bon Jovi karaoke performances for a life of going home early to help another living creature poop. For whatever reason, you know you can't realistically bring a little furball into your life at this time. That's rational — and calm, rational thinking is at the heart of smart, responsible pet ownership. You'll be a great dog mom some day.
But logic plays no role when the dog-ological clock goes off. Your heart wants what it wants, and it wants a dog. And if it doesn't get one, it will start to make you go a little nuts. You may come down with "dog fever," a crippling disease that causes sufferers to address strange dogs as "cuuuutie pie!" and purchase throw pillows embroidered with French bulldogs. Could you be deep in the throes of this alarming affliction, and not even know it?
Check our 11 symptoms below; if you've experienced more than seven of them, please consult a doctor and also go look at Boo the Dog's Facebook page. We're going to get through this together. Now who wants a belly rub??!
1. You Lavish Attention On Friends' Dogs
You are the reason that your neighbor's pug has 11 Santa costumes, an automated water dish, and one $65 chew toy from the Sharper Image.
2. You Make Excuses To Go Near Dog Parks
The pizza place you go to just happens to be near the dog park. The hardware store you go to just happens to be near the dog park. The accountant you go to just happens to be near the dog park. The coffee shop you go to requires you to walk by nine other coffee shops — all of which serve much better coffee — but damn it, your coffee shop is next to the dog park, allowing you prime viewing of OHMYGOD two tiny poodles playing with a huge stick.
3. You Already Have A Dog Name Picked Out
Also a back-up name in case one of your friends steals your dog name. Or tries to tell you that "Princess Funfetti" isn't a "dignified name for a living creature."
4. You Have A Few Friends Whose Dogs You Like More Than Them
Funny how your "coffee dates" with Beth generally seem to deteriorate into you rolling on the floor with her dog, squealing, "Who is an itty bitty puppy princess? Is it you? Is it you?" Beth — who is neither itty bitty nor a puppy princess but rather a normal-size human marketing executive with a very complicated love life that she had hoped to discuss with you today — looks on annoyed, but not really surprised.
5. You've Already Bought A Dog Toy For Your Future Dog
It was on sale, so it was a really good deal! That's extra money in my pocket that I can spend ensuring that Princess Funfetti has a bright future! What if she wants to go to dog college? Can you imagine how much that will cost in a few years?
6. You Roll Your Eyes When Friends Suggest You Just Get A Cat Instead
As if a cat would let you dress it in holiday outfits for photo shoots without the use of heavy sedative drugs. It's like you people don't listen to a word that I say!
7. You Spend A Lot Of Time On Petfinder
It's part of your daily web rotation, along with news sites and blogs that you secretly hate-read. You scroll through that sea of hopeful faces, pick out a potential pal, imagine a whole beautiful life together, and then chicken out right before you take any actual action (so, basically, it's almost exactly like online dating).
8. You Follow More Dogs Than People On Instagram
They all just look so snuggly-wuggly in their little doggie sweatshirts! Plus, they don't make you feel bad about all your life decisions, the way you do when you look at actual humans on Instagram.
9. You Obsessively Repost Dog Adoption Ads On Facebook
If you can't rescue Mr. Hunnybunny, an elderly Labradoodle from Indiana, you're going to make damned sure that someone else does!
10. You Must Avert Your Eyes Whenever You Pass A Dog Adoption Event
You feel sad, useless, and thoroughly cute-overloaded, all at once. Look at all these potential furry friends who could come live with you forever if you could only GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER, OH MY GOD, WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU, YOU'RE 32, MOST PEOPLE HAVE KIDS BY NOW!
11. You Romanticize The Harsh Realities Of Dog Ownership
When an exhausted friend tells you about how her new dog whined to go out to pee nine times last night, but then didn't pee any of the times, you just stroke the pup's head, look into his soulful puppy eyes, and say, "I'm sure he had a really good reason."