My weekend started Friday night with the observation that a lot of people in my neighborhood seem to have two identical dogs. I had seen the guy with the two slightly deformed-looking Jack Russells plenty of times. He walks them down my block, and they prance in that cute Jack Russell way, stopping to pee and poop periodically and sticking their extended anteater-like snouts into the butt of every other dog that passes by. (The snouts would be the “slightly deformed” part.) But it wasn’t until I was looking for other examples that double dogs began to spring up just about everywhere I turned. There was the goth chick with the twin pugs, the creepy tight-shorts-wearing fat guy with the two spitting image black poodles, the midwestern-looking couple with a pair of possibly cloned golden retrievers.

Double dogs were everywhere, and I would not rest until I found out why. Was it out of a belief that dogs would get along better with their own breed, or did people just love their first dog so much that when they decided to get a second, they figured they’d play it safe and find another one just like it? Or perhaps there was some creepy eugenics philosophy at work that said “my favorite breed is the perfect race and someday all dogs will be akitas, dammit!” I had to know…

On Saturday afternoon, Drew and I went to a birthday party for his five-year-old goddaughter, Chloe. This was originally planned as a no-boys-allowed party, until about the fifteenth time we talked to her about it, which went something like this:

Me: Can we please come to your party? We’d really like to.

Chloe: No!

Drew: If you don’t let us come, we’re not getting you any presents!

Chloe: No!

Chloe’s Obnoxious but Lovable Mom: They’re practically girls anyway.

Chloe: Okay… one of you can come!

Drew: Which one?

Chloe: (shrugs)You pick.

Thankfully, we were spared making our Sophie’s Choice when, the sixteenth time we asked her, she agreed to let both of us come. That was lucky for us, because otherwise we would’ve missed meeting the therapist from “The Swan”, whose kid is in Chloe’s class. She was a very nice woman, and she graciously put up with my relentless questioning and gentle criticism of her show. But in some ways, maybe “The Swan” is right, and we no longer have to live in a world where we’re forced to accept what nature has given us. Whatever we feel our problems may be, there’s a TV show out there that’s willing to pay a team of plastic surgeons to fix them. It’s nothing we haven’t been doing with our pets for years, picking and choosing the traits we like best before committing to taking one in. (Swan Therapist was also interesting to talk to at piñata time, as we shared insights about the extremely disturbing level of aggressiveness displayed by the tots. For me, the spectacle had a creepy Fight Club meets Kindergarten Cop vibe to it. Children, you love that Powerpuff Girl. Why would you take such pleasure in destroying her?)

I was getting closer to unlocking the mystery of double dogs, but I had more exploring to do. Chloe’s family has a dog of its own. It’s the small, hairy, toothy, yappy type. I don’t know much about breeds, but I would venture that this kind of dog is in the species closest in origin to the rodent family. Okay, I admit I’m not a big fan of this dog, but it turns out that the housekeeper’s daughter is wild about Paulie. So wild that she just bought an identical dog for herself. I asked her what she liked so much about the dog, and she said it was “soooooo sweet” and “cuuuuuute” and the “coooooolest”. No matter what she said about the pooch, she tended to over-vowel. “I just think he’s the best dog ehhhhhhhhh-ver!”

Score one for eugenics.

It just so happened that later that same day, we had another birthday party to attend, this one for a guy 30 years Chloe’s senior. It was a surprise party, and I had only met the guy once before, so I vowed to stay near the back for the arrival. I didn’t want to have to follow “Surprise!” with “Hi, I’m Jerry. You probably don’t remember me.” Since I didn’t really know him, I didn’t have to chip in for the gift, which was a professionally-made portrait of — get this — someone else’s dog. This man, I was informed, was so obsessed with his friend‘s Boston terrier, whom he pampered and spoiled and probably spoke to in a language only the two of them could understand, that a group of his best pals thought he’d appreciate if they blew $300 on a Warhol-spoofing painting (you know the one) of said animal.

There’s no way, I told myself. Just no way.

Well, I was wrong.

When he got a look at his gift, his jaw dropped so far you could’ve driven a train into his mouth. In my life, I have witnessed few moments of happiness so pure. And that same expression returned when he got a look at his custom-made cake, which also bore the likeness of his favorite four-legged friend. At last, he had his double dogs. One of which was suitable for eating.

“You don’t understand,” he declared in his speech. Well, at least he understood that we didn’t understand. “I looooooove this dog!” I wondered why he didn’t just get his own Boston terrier, but then I reminded myself that when the housekeeper’s daughter bought her own rat-dog, I thought it was a little creepy.

“I am obsessssssed with this dog!” the birthday boy exclaimed, over and over. He had a grin on his face that hadn’t fade a bit by the time Drew and I, horrified, fled the party an hour later.

I finally realized that maybe double dog syndrome was the opposite of taking your dog too seriously. People who took dogs too seriously would never try to duplicate them for fear of disappointment. Maybe people with double dogs had a very blasé attitude toward their pets:

“Yeah, we liked him, so we got another one. Whatever.”

“The breeder’s a friend of mine, so she cuts us a deal.”

“You mean he’s a Yorkie, too? I honestly never noticed.”

Conclusion: there’s nothing wrong with double dogs.

But people with no dogs creep me the fuck out.

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