Jonah Goldberg:

It’s worth bearing in mind that dog ownership — when done right — gets you out of the house. Dog ownership is also very often a social lubricant. When I lived in Adams Morgan one of the most small-d democratic and civic-minded activities in my life involved going to the local dog park with Cosmo, the late, great, wonderdog and former It Dog of the American Right®. I made friends with people I might never have said a word to otherwise. We self-organized to clean up the park from time to time and we watched out for each other’s dogs. My generally shy father loved to take our basset hound, Norman, around the neighborhood in part because of all the attention Norman got (the ladies loved Norman). He was a walking conversation piece.

I agree with Clay that many people today — and in every generation — get dogs in part to deal with loneliness. But the malady is the loneliness; the dogs are a partial cure. There are better cures, but that’s not the dogs’ fault.

Exactly. Dogs are great. Period. I know so, so many people whose dogs have given them peace and comfort and entertainment and affection when those needs couldn’t be met in other ways. I think especially of my mother, whose dog Ansel was a life-saver for her when my father died. No one should ever say a bad word about (a) dogs and (b) the love people have for their dogs. That love doesn’t interfere with the love of other humans, but rather (as Jonah says) is often conducive to friendship and affection with people. One of the best events in the history of humanity occurred when dogs began seeking us out.