My dog has recently taken up the practice of eating other dogs’ poop.
She also licks, um, herself regularly, puts her feet in her mouth from time to time, and licks the floor and almost anything else she comes into contact with. On separate occasions I’ve caught Katniss with a frog, a dead snake and a dead bird in her mouth.
Have I mentioned she often gives me Katniss kisses™, sometimes unexpectedly on the mouth, because she is very affectionate? As I type this, she is giving my wife about 50 licks on the arm. I’m sure many of you fellow dog owners get kisses all the time from your pets, too, but considering where their mouths have been, is it a good idea to allow such affection?
You’ve likely heard the saying that a dog’s mouth is one of the cleaner things one will encounter in everyday life, but with all the things our dogs’ mouths come into contact with, I don’t see how the saying is even remotely true. Think about it: Our dogs’ toys and bones are on the floor all day, and said objects are then picked up by our dogs with their teeth, which reside in the mouths our dogs kiss us with. We don’t normally like to interact with things that have been on the floor, right? And who knows where our dogs’ mouths have been when we weren’t looking or when they were playing outside? For those of us who live in Texas, for example, what our dogs have come into contact with armadillos? I’ve heard they can be carriers of the bubonic plague.
We humans don’t typically engage in such risky kissing behavior with one another—unless, perhaps, we want mono—so why is it OK to let our dogs give us kisses from likely filthy mouths? They can’t even brush their own teeth!
I think one reason we engage with our pets in this manner is because unlike humans, dogs can’t talk to us and tell us they love us. They can’t really hug us, either. They can snuggle up next to us, bring us dead animals as offerings or lick us—those are pretty much their options to show us how much they care. So we let them lick us.
Personally, I don’t care where Katniss’ mouth has been: If she wants to give me a kiss, so be it—unless she’s been picking up other dogs’ turds. That just started recently, and I can’t believe it hasn’t made her sick somehow. I always try to pull her away if I see her even looking in the direction of another pooch’s poop when we’re out on walks together, but she’s so dang sneaky that I can’t always catch her in time—yet another reason to make her a more disciplined walker and for my neighbors to clean up after their dogs.
If I come down with a touch of the plague, however, I think I will have to reconsider my stance on Katniss kisses™.