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A small dog dressed up for the Wash­ington, D.C. scene. Courtesy | Flickr

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.