It’s that split second feeling you have about a person just by looking at them, what they are doing or who they are with. Sometimes this judging is in the form of stereotypes when something we see or hear makes us act a certain way towards a person or say a certain thing.
On the subtle and pretty harmless end of the spectrum is making general judgements about dog owners or dogs themselves.
Take, for instance, the person who says “small dogs are always so yappy”. I feel judgement sometimes because people see me hiking with small dogs with short, stumpy legs and say things like “aww..look at that poor dog trying to keep up” as if I am making them do something they are not capable of. I feel people judging my dogs when they say things like “he must not be able to go far on those short little legs” like they are incapable because they are small.
I see people judging situations without knowing the whole story.
Take, for instance, the situation with Obie the obese Dachshund. Obie’s original owners were elderly and had dementia. Having dementia can cause a person to live moment to moment and lose their ability to reason. His owners very likely didn’t understand that what they were doing to him was doing him harm because all they saw was a hungry dog they loved. Still, I see people making hateful comments about the owners over and over again like “his owners should go to jail for animal cruelty” or “his owners should be shot”.
I see people being judged for what they feed their dogs.
Some people believe that feeding your dog raw food is the only “biologically appropriate” thing to do and call animal abuse on people who chose to feed their dog kibble. Some people believe feeding their dog anything is ok and label those on the other side of the spectrum “crazy zealots” and alarmists.
I see people being judged for where they got their dog.
Recently, a girl named Megan wrote a post bashing people who get their dogs from breeders. Someone started a Facebook page that used the quote “To all you “reputable” breeders, if you think your litters are not contributing to the overpopulation you must be DELUSIONAL!”. These people are obviously judging big time. “Dog Fanciers” who support the responsible breeding of dogs are left to defend themselves and I think sometimes judge people who believe you should only rescue animals as an enemy.
I find myself judging too.
When I see people walking their dogs on a flexi lead, oblivious to the fact that their dogs are running up to dogs and almost tripping runners, bikers and skateboarders, I find myself rolling my eyes and randomly clearing my throat. I have been known to judge people with overweight dogs who exclaim “their pudgy butt is so cute” or “I just can’t say no to him” as lacking discipline, irresponsible or in denial about the health problems it can cause (I am assuming they know and they are choosing to ignore it).
Judging is human nature and I don’t believe we can stop doing it. However, I do think we can learn to acknowledge our judgement and put it aside anyway.
Some people’s choices are due to a lack of education and we can learn to see that as a teaching opportunity. Some choices are because people do have all the facts, they have weighed all the options and made what is the best decision for them. We should learn to respectfully agree to disagree with people who have chosen different than we would have. We can learn to stand up for what we believe while respecting other people’s boundaries and right to have an opinion different than ours.
Doing this takes a lot of practice and hard work though. It is an ongoing struggle for me (but I have made a lot of progress).
Do you catch yourself judging other pet owners or do you feel judged by others?