Sunday, December 28, 2008

Marley & Me: Dogs as Family

Once again, a film has demonstrated which animal is truly top dog: Marley & Me was number one with a bullet at the box office in its opening weekend, barking its rivals up a tree.  We're not here to blog about the movie -- after all, we haven't seen it yet! -- but we would like to talk about the role that dogs play in our popular culture. After all, what's more important: the role of Shi'ite militias in the Iraqi conflict, or whether Lassie gets to finally tell Elizabeth Taylor to stop hogging her screen time in Lassie Come Home?

It is not a coincidence that every president in recent decades seems to have a dog (barneycam may have been George Bush's finest moment, and Nixon's "Checkers" speech probably saved his political career).  Moreover, Barack Obama's first major decision may be whether to get a Golden Doodle or a Portugese Water Dog.  We (all of us, whether we have a dog or not) view the ideal family as one with a dog.  Sure, a cat might be there too (they're quite clever, you know), but dogs far outnumber cats in our American homes, and for a reason: dogs have insinuated themselves into our image of who we are.

In films stretching from Benji to, well, the list is too long to include here, dogs are everywhere.  And what are they doing (beyond sniffing our collective butts, of course?) They're saving the world, or just lying on our laps.  

So as the new year approaches, raise your glass in a toast to our fine, four-legged friends: from helping us hunt for our food to playing with a frisbee, our dogs are truly our best friends.

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