Marin’s Obsession with Dogs


By Emily Spears

Why is it that people LOVE dogs so much?  I was wondering this the other day as I snuggled with my 1-year-old puppy named Cleo (who I guess isn’t really a puppy anymore). Is it the way they bark and jump on strangers the second they come to your door? Or how they jump up on the table and eat all the leftovers of your dinner? Or maybe it’s just the adorable way they love to piss on your carpet. My guess is that it probably has more to do with the fact that they are here for you when you need a pick-me-up, greet your arrival with hugs and kisses when you walk in the door, and basically help to confirm that you are the best person in the whole entire world. In Marin, this last value is especially important— people are always out to get you, school, colleges, parents, friends, the neighbors… the list goes on. Life is just really hard for people in this struggling county. And dogs, dogs help with that. They’re also really fun to flaunt when you’re taking a stroll downtown to pick up your $4.99 Equator coffee.

Dogs have been “man’s best friend” for over 15,000 years, according to coiner of the phrase Frederick the Great of Prussia.  But Marin’s obsession with dogs is so deeply engrained in our roots that it might as well have been Sir Francis Drake who made the timeless statement. Marin County loves their dogs. While it’s hard to avoid seeing a dog every time you go out in Mill Valley, it is surprisingly easy to confuse a conversation between two MV moms about their dog with a conversation about their child. By no means am I exempt from this county-wide pooch-love epidemic as I am the proud owner of an adorable cocker-spaniel poodle (a.k.a cockapoo). I undoubtedly join the ranks of potentially every dog-owner in Marin by saying I have the cutest dog in the county.

One of the reasons why dogs may be so popular in Marin is their ability to sooth stress about some of the most important things in your life, whether you’ll get that B up to an A in PE or if the cold weather in Stinson is going to ruin your weekend. “They are very good stress relievers and they are very comforting. When I need comfort she’s there,” junior Allie Burns said.

The TLC that dogs provide in times of need has not gone unnoticed in the Tam community. For the past couple of years, peer resource has taken to bringing in different kinds of dogs during finals week to help calm the nerves of students at Tam. This tactic seems to be effective. In a 2001 study, researchers found that pet-owning patients with high blood pressure could keep their blood pressure lower during times of mental stress than patients without pets.

So it’s only fair that if your dog contributes as much as they do to your family lifestyle in making you the happy, grateful, humble Marin inhabitant you are, that we give our four-legged friends some treats in return. And these treats sure can add up. At one salon in downtown Mill Valley, a “basic bath” is nearing on $50, and the haircut is north of $180. Even though every kid and teen that grows up in Marin is of course more than pleasant all the time and parents would never even think to take a break from them, it doesn’t hurt to sometimes treat our pet dogs as we would our children. This includes paying professionals to take our dogs on walks once a day, and making sure that they have all organic, gourmet treats— we can’t have our domestic pets eating ANYTHING that includes gluten, carbs, dairy, or synthetic fat. “I find it really funny how people buy separate meat from the butcher for their dogs… I feel like dogs are really spoiled in Marin in general,” Burns said.

“Our dog has brought so much joy and happiness to our family. My dog is my baby, I carry him around, he’s literally my child,” junior Lily Hemmert said while cradling her puppy, Maverick, in her arms. “Maverick changed our family so much.” Dogs have the ability to alter the way a family operates and can strengthen bonds between family members. Marin seems to have a knack for knowing just how much dogs can improve lives.  “Almost every family I know has a dog,” Hemmert said. Burns elaborated on how her parents treat her dog like another child. “She’s very spoiled. My dad makes her separate hamburger patties, she sleeps in parents bed, sometimes she sits at dinner table with us. Every day is kind of her birthday…. and on her actual birthday, we made her a special cake,” she said.  

Since everyone in Marin is so human and down to Earth, dogs add a nice little variety by keeping us company. So regardless of if you have a lab, golden-doodle, spaniel, or shih tzu, treat your dogs to something special today and take them on a walk yourself, let them breath the fresh air of the Bay Area, and keep them on leash…. MV dads can’t have their weekend mountain bike ride stifled by your pets, duh. I think we should all take after Allie and bake our dogs a cake for keeping Marin the relatable, modest, beautiful county it is. But make sure it’s gluten free!