Today, we consider another of the myriad styles of married life reflected in the man/woman/dog connection.

If you are already married, the ideology of equality has long ago been dismissed as so much hokum. The various grievances large and small that so often lead to waywardness, and ultimately to bitter sessions in a law office are known to you. If they aren’t, and if you are not among the handful of couples blessed by the gods, then you probably live a life of quiet desperation, keeping the lid on to avoid alimony and child support. Even so, you almost certainly hold out hope for some magic elixir, some incantation that will make the road smoother.

You hope, in fact, for a dog mistress/lover.

And don’t forget: with dogs, there’s no need to sort out all the knotty “gender issues” so often coming into play these days. The life companion can be your sex or not, and there’s never any need to anguish over lifestyle options. Whether you are a hard-charging leader or fawning help meet, a dog can measure up.

So, again employing the marriage/extra-marital concept, what can we say about the couple pictured above? I am a dog person, and of course would be interested in what other dog nuts think. But people like us are pretty predictable in the unconditional nature of our love, so I am actually more interested in what non-dog-crazy persons think.

To get the ball rolling, my view is that the couple in the photo appears pretty much agreed on an open marriage of equals. They are together but free to pursue separate interests outside their marriage. The young man is texting, or picking lint out of his navel, maybe even meditating. Possibly, something has made him remember his 401k, or the size of the monthly interest nut he carries on his credit card. Understandably, this has made him for the moment oblivious to all else, including his companion.

The dog? As with his spouse we can’t be sure, but it’s evident he/she is nicely composed, even though interested in something off to the right. Almost certainly it’s another dog: this picture was taken at a Bark in the Park sponsored by the Humane Society of Naples, Florida.

 like the casual naturalness of the dog’s shoulders better than I do the more defeated quality of the man’s. It suggests a tolerant, patient kind of companion, the sort that gives you your space, isn’t too needy, isn’t always dropping balls or food bowls at your feet, demanding to be let in the bathroom when you’re taking a shower, etc.

I have more to say, but a person of interest has just entered my study. Seating herself before my desk, she begins working the magic of her one good eye. It’s noon, the eye says. Someone has to wear the watch in this family. Patiently she continues displaying the quiet confidence of one who knows who will win. The same one who always wins, who knows it’s just a matter of seconds before this particular spouse gets up and follows her out the door.

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