I got a call last night from a fellow AngryPilotWife. After 30 minutes of marital complaints, she announced, "All Pilots are dogs!". Given that I really like dogs, I wasn't sure that was a fair assessment. It got me thinking... are Pilots and dogs really that similar? If not, how are they different?
When it comes to greetings, Pilots and dogs are very similar. Both have their rituals to get a sense of the other person... or canine. For dogs, this starts with smelling each others' butts. Then whichever one growls first, is the Alpha. For Pilots it starts with, "Who do you fly for?" and dominance is established by one's answer to the question, "What equipment are you on?". However, it would probably be less socially awkward if Pilots just smelled each other and growled if they flew a wide-body.
Dogs are, inherently social creatures; longing to be part of a pack. In her youth, we took our Rottweiler / German Shepherd mix to the local dog park to run with her posse of dog buddies. Now, she naps on the front porch, waiting for neighbors to walk by with their canines, who inevitably stop by for a while to frolic. Pilots aren't much different. They to, are very social creatures. However they fulfill this need by spending hours reading and posting on Airline Pilot Central forums.
As a rule, dogs are loyal. Pilots... well... some are. Dogs are ALWAYS happy to see you. They bark as soon as they hear you pull in the driveway. They wait at the door for you to enter. They jump. They wag their tails. They are soooooo happy you are home! On the other hand, Pilots will ignore you when you walk in the house; especially if you are carrying in groceries or there's something good on the Military Channel or Fox News. Big effing difference!
Here's another similarity.... Dogs love to play fetch. Our dog, Ava Garner, will drop a stick at my feet, over and over again, just for the chance to retrieve it. Pilots love to play fetch too. However for Pilots, the game is more like "Fetch me a beer" or "Fetch me a sandwich" and they never give it back.... until its empty.
Another difference; dogs have NO concept of time. If I go in the bathroom, and shut the door, when I emerge, the dog greets me as if I just returned from 2 tours in Afghanistan. PilotHusbands are acutely aware of time. This is especially true if they have to get up early for a trip. If PilotHusband has to catch the 6:00 flight into base, he starts announcing how much time is left before he must rise, about 24 hours ahead of time. Like some Doomsday clock counting down, you are CONSTANTLY reminded of PilotHusband's concept of time.
Finally, there is a HUGE difference in the way doggie transgressions, and Pilot transgressions, are dealt with. Depending on your Homeowner's Insurance and your neighbors' tolerance, dogs only get two chances to screw up before they are carted off by the big evil Animal Control truck. Hell... Ol' Yeller only got to get cranky one time, before they put a bullet in him. If I shot PilotHusband every time he got sideways, I would have run out of ammo a long time ago. When it comes to dog's; there's a "two strikes-- you're out" rule. PilotHusbands seem to have more lives than cats... but that's a whole different blogpost.
APW and Trooper: our "rescue" Pitbull