by Bull Garlington
Open the conversation by putting your dog at ease with a familiar subject. Establishing a safe place for discussion is crucial when conveying information which may be upsetting. Doing this in a place where you and your dog are comfortable is equally important. Consider lying on your bed in your yoga pants clutching a plastic cup of bourbon and ginger ale. Lime is optional. Open the conversation like it’s no big deal. Just look into your dog’s eyes and talk naturally.
Who’s a good boy?
Transition gently into the difficult subject at hand. Don’t rush into a litany of facts and figures. That graph from the BBC is entirely unnecessary at this point in the conversation. Too much data is overwhelming in times of crisis and may cause your pooch to move to the other end of the bed and lie across your pea green cardigan and not look at you.
I bet you’re wondering why mommy is home so much, aren’t you, boy?
Experts agree that once everyone is comfortable, getting right to the point is important. Delaying crisis discussion serves no real purpose. It’s critical that you convey transparency and forthrightness to your dog. He knows when you’re condescending and will jump off the bed to trot out of the room to reassure himself with a quick nip out of the toilet. It’s OK to follow him there but don’t crowd. Perhaps speak from the hallway.
We’re all going to die.
Introduce the broad picture of the crisis then stop. Allow your dog to digest the severity at his own pace. He may wag his tail, indicating his belief that you will protect him from danger. It’s ok for you to exhibit honest emotions but remember your pet will take his cues from your behavior and tone. Be confident.
(Sobbing) What if the government forgives all student debt after I’m dead?
Your dog may have concerns about their behavior in the past. Dogs are loyal and likely to adopt responsibility for the situation at large. Your dog may ask questions like ‘is this my fault?’ or ‘should I have licked you more?’ This is OK. Reassure him with the lessons of stoicism: you can can’t control what happens, only your reaction to what happens. Your dog may find your default to philosophy 101 a cop out and walk past you indifferently down the hall into the living room where he will jump up onto the couch to ponder his testicles.
It’s such bullshit! I could’ve played Call of Duty and been a C student and gone to night school like my brother, Carl. But noooo (swig) I had to go to Purdue for a fucking MASTERS! In ENGLISH LIT!
Finish with an open invitation for further discussion. Your dog may have questions. He may wonder why you never married. Why you never traveled. He may express emotions and concerns such as It’s the clicking, Jeannine. The way you click your pen over and over and over. Infuriating. But it won’t matter anymore, will it, Jeannine? It won’t matter anymore. He may pour himself a respectable tumbler of good Scotch and stare out the window as it all burns, his tail wagging slowly, methodically, the expression on his snout inscrutable.