Op-Ed: Should Dogs Wear Hats?

Evan Farley, ‘20

October 2019

Personification is a classic poetic device you learn about early on in your writing career. By assigning human qualities to otherwise inanimate objects, writers are able to assign emotion where it might otherwise be lacking. In a world where beds beckon you to be embraced by the cool pillows and cozy comforter, it is hard to say we would be better off without the human spirit seeping into lifeless objects. 

Think of Dr. Victor Frankenstein as he fused human parts together to create a monster that was distinctly inhuman, yet at the same time sympathetic and sensitive, the latter qualities only able to be conveyed through figurative language such as personification. These emotions complicate the novel as Dr. Frankenstein is (at least temporarily) reluctant to kill his monster because not only is it his creation, but could be considered human. 

In literature such as Frankenstein, personification makes sense. In real life, however, surely there is a line one can cross in assigning human qualities and attributes to those not deserving of such. Pets, for example, are the classic source of an age-old debate. Should they have human names or is that weird? Is it ok to talk to them like a friend/therapist/date or is that weird? Should they wear clothes and cute outfits or is that weird? 

Let me tell you, definitively, that it is not only weird but plain wrong. 

There should be a hard and fast line between pets and people. With the sole exception of Halloween, where pets of all strip should wear costumes, it is cruel to subject animals to such personification. Not only is it demeaning to their already existing majestic grace, but it strips their potential for future dignity. Think of Buck in Jack London’s Call of the Wild, who certainly did not have a pair of dog overalls to wear. His only clothes were the fur on his back and he embraced it. In fact, it was not until Buck was fully immersed in the Wild that he found himself.

Image credit:  twitter.com/thememebot

If your dog is cold, for example, then they’re in the wrong climate. Stay inside or go to LA. Patagonia vests should be exclusive to Wall Street bros. Certain dogs evolved to stay in cold weather and you can subject those to brutal winters. And for humans that get cold without a coat, start packing. 

This is not to say that it’s wrong to domesticate animals, but we should let them be animals. This means no human names, no human conversations, and no human clothes. And it should go without saying that pets do not belong in strollers. I said it. It is an abomination for watchdogs to act as helpless as babies. Dogs should be working for humans, providing their animal strength to help their powerless humans. A dog in the stroller is a slap in the face to years of both natural and artificial selection. 

Leave the personification to literature.