In many ways, the media attention paid to the passing of Jennifer Aniston’s beloved dog, Norman, is the height of our celebrity obsession run amok. But while most readers probably rolled their eyes or quickly clicked to the next story, I admit that I’ve read the stories about Norman (left), Aniston’s Welsh corgi-terrier who passed away a few weeks ago after 15 years. Anyone who’s ever had a dog knows the empty sadness of suddenly not having that enthusiastic “hello” at the door after a long day of work, and the news that someone — anyone — has lost a furry best friend is a tender reminder of one’s own canine companions.
I know cats are great pets, too, but it’s dogs that seem to most compel humans to reciprocate their devotion. Dogs inspire not only loyalty, but outpourings of earnest emotion that we’d struggle to express for actual people. Whenever I want to scream at the views of political commentator Charles Krauthammer, I recall his tribute to his beloved Chester, which still puts a lump in my throat just to think about. I can’t read Tom Junod’s “Marco Died” unless I’ve got a good two hours away from the kids to recover. So it’s no surprise that Old Yeller wasn’t a Siamese cat and that Marley wasn’t a Persian. Cats have to settle for YouTube clips documenting their piano playing while dogs often get the feature treatment.
Did you take special notice of Norman’s passing because it made you recall your own beloved pet who made his or her mark on your home and heart? Have you ever had to compose yourself after reading a paean to someone else’s favorite pet?