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Hey haters, people love dogs. Deal with it!

Columnist Meghan Daum's Op-Ed about her bond with her dog sparked a debate among readers.
(Wes Bausmith / Los Angeles Times)

Meghan Daum’s Thursday column about the loss of her dog was a real tear-jerker. “If Rex could have talked, we’d have finished each other’s sentences,” she wrote of their powerful bond.

I choked up at my desk as I read it, thinking about my own dog, just a little over 2 years old, and the unbearable idea of life without him. Every night when I get home from work and see him waiting in the window for me, my heart grows two sizes.

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Surprisingly, Daum’s column was also a lightning rod for debate. Or maybe I shouldn’t have been shocked. I like to read the comments on our Op-Eds for the other side’s perspective, but I do sometimes find myself thinking that cranks will leave argumentative comments on anything.

“They say if you’re lucky you’ll get one really great dog in your life,” Daum wrote. “Other dogs may do their jobs in their own unique and perfectly wonderful ways, but there will always be that dog that no dog will replace, the dog that will make you cry even when it’s been gone for more years than it could ever have lived. I have now had that dog. That is at once the most beautiful and most awful thought in the world.”

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To which a reader “Barbara Seville” complained:

Honestly, the more I read this maudlin drivel -- this pretentious dross -- the more pathetic it seems. In Ms. Daum’s world, the “most beautiful and most awful thought in the world” has nothing to do with the majesty of the universe, the mysteries of the infinite, the transcendence of great art, or the power of human love. No, the most beautiful and awful thought any woman could possibly have is that her next dog might not be as good as the last one. What a sad set of priorities.

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Pull yourself together, develop a sense of proportion and stop whining.

Next week maybe we’ll have Bill Plaschke choking up about his pet parrot. Or Jonah Goldberg getting all weepy about his goldfish (although that might be an improvement over his usual stuff, come to think of it.)

Another reader, “Reaganwasright” wrote:

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This is front page news? I guess LA Times needs to distract us from all the ‘bad press’ Obama is getting. What’s next? Pictures of puppies and kittens? Come on Koch Bros ... BUY THIS RAG!!!

Many of the comments get meaner from there, to which reader “ljames9000” lamented: “I am sure Rex would be shocked to discover in death he is such a lightning rod for people’s venomous spouting off.”

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Reader “Fair Scot” also weighed in to rebut the dog/Daum haters: “Maybe we should ask about the hurts, abuse, rejections, isolation, terror, etc. ... that humans inflict on other humans and then maybe we will understand the great gift of unconditional love and companionship that a dog provides.”

Here, then, are some lovely comments describing the powerful relationships people can have with their pets.

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“aralion” wrote:

Wow, I have never read such evil, vile, loathsome remarks by people who, obviously, have never had a close relationship with an animal. There is nothing strange or wrong about loving a dog or cat so deeply that it leaves a hole in your heart when it dies. For those of you who find this trait despicable, I feel sorry for you and for those who have relationships with you. One’s life can only be enriched by the ability to feel so deeply for a pet. Ms. Daum, my condolences to you on the loss of Rex. May time heal your wound.

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“parajurs” chimed in:

This is a beautifully written story about the relationship of a woman, and then a woman and her husband with their beloved dog. Only someone who has had a great dog, and I’ve been lucky to have many, would understand the unique beauty of a dog’s healing love. There are many stories of them saving lives, of humans living longer thanks to their companionship, etc. Why anyone would cast any ugly light on this story only speaks to their lack of compassion. Ms. Daum isn’t choosing or valuing a dog over a child, this is an assumption on the part of an ignorant few. To those who think the Koch Brothers should buy the Times as a result of a human/animal interest story, your limited scope as a human is perfect for the narcissistic self-interests of corporate raiders such as the Kochs who want to control the media to feed corporate interests.

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“Rip Rense” said:

The ugly cretins who grunted and croaked in the comments section here are ample evidence supporting the valuing of animals over humans. That is, if any is needed outside of the ongoing, rampaging destruction of species and environment by homo sapiens. That anyone would take the time and energy to viciously deride such an earnest, loving tribute to such a noble creature as Rex begs credulity. But then, so many things do beg credulity these days. One point: it is very common to refer to “pets” (animal co-habitants) as offering “unconditional love.” I always dispute this. The love is highly conditional. If you treat a domestic animal with love, respect, trust, these things will be reciprocated, if not returned many times over. That’s the bargain. One of the great flaws in nature is that such wonderful creatures as dogs live such short lives. Hail and farewell, noble Rex.

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The above comments were corrected for clarity only.

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Follow Alexandra Le Tellier on Twitter @alexletellier


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