If one were to survey the inhabitants of the District of Columbia on whether they prefer dogs to cats, the results would overwhelmingly favor one side.
District people are dog people. I found out about this during my semester living in D.C.
On my commute to and from the U.S. Capitol Building, rain or shine, night or day, I would come across dog people. Government bureaucrats, jogging in their Lululemon leggings with Old Faithful bopping at their side, were always a fun sight to my intern eyes.
At night, the energy would shift. Couples would venture out on a stroll with Fluffy on one side and their partner on the other. On Saturday mornings, I’d see dogs with their respective bureaucrats in line for coffee. They’d also be at their feet during the mandatory Sunday brunch on restaurant patios.
When it started getting colder, the district’s dogs started donning sweater vests. I’d see dog people coo and squeal at the various patterns of plaid their neighbors’ dogs were subject to.
District dogs also predominated social media. Cohabitating couples, after adopting a new puppy, would post pictures of their newborn fur-baby. Adoption photos resembled birth announcements. In fact, if a couple adopted a pup, it was a signal that they were serious. Never mind the fact that they were cohabitating with no intention of getting married.
After a month of enjoying the district’s dog scene, I realized this phenomenon was indicative of a larger trend. A 2017 Census survey revealed 76% of D.C. residents were unmarried.
Instead, most couples in D.C. cohabitate. This is not surprising, as modern values characterize dutiful commitment as stifling to an individual’s freedom and desire. But cohabiting couples cannot escape biology. There comes a time when the nurturing instinct kicks in.
This basic, biological instinct cannot be transcended, no matter what Simone de Beauvoir would have wished. It is merely subverted by and channeled into doggy adoptions. A woman can tote a pup to coffee and still get all the compliments she would if she brought a real baby, except this “child” doesn’t require her to stay home from work to raise it. The term “fur baby” is not just a cute expression. D.C. couples refer to their dogs as children, and characterize the arrangement they have with their partner and dog as their “family.” Ironically, they cannot escape using terms and conforming to ideas that are supposedly outdated and tyrannical.
When I lived in D.C., the couples I observed seemed like shells of human beings as a result of their modern values. The men were ruled by their girlfriends and bullied into an arrangement that made both parties unhappy. They swept their commitment problems under the rug and got dogs to make themselves feel better about using another person for pleasure.
Many times, a dog was a symbol of a deeply disordered relationship, all stemming from indoctrination in post-modern values that trample the soul and dignity of a human person. I couldn’t help but think the inhabitants of the district and their dogs resembled Friedrich Nietzsche’s last man in “Thus Spoke Zarathustra,” a commentary on modern political communities. Nietzsche’s last man is one coddled by modernity and a slave to pleasure. He is unaware that he dehumanizes himself by making pleasure his god.
According to Nietzsche, this is the goal of the modern democratic state — to tame man into a domestic pet.
“We see nothing today which wants to be greater. We suspect that things are constantly still going down, down into something more comfortable, more mediocre, more apathetic,” Nietzsche writes. “Everyone wants the same; everyone is equal.”
This longing for equality instilled into the modern man and woman destroys the unique gifts and role each brings to a relationship. The result is using the other for pleasure with no strings attached. Marriage is seen as tyrannical and limiting pleasure. Children are seen as limitations instead of blessings. Both parties are unhappy, but at least they have a dog to make them happy on the bad days.
A dog satisfies the maternal instinct, without the responsibility and work of being a parent. Unfortunately this leads to a deeply disordered human life. The district and its dog people will have to learn this lesson the hard way.
Victoria Marshall is a senior George Washington Fellow studying politics. She is the Science and Tech Editor for the Collegian.