At heart, are dogs as unpleasant as human beings?
The question pummels at my sinews today because an iPhone app of unusual enlightenment has been brought to my attention.
It's called FidoFactor. And what sets it apart from all those fart-obsessed, teeny-titillating iPhone apps is that, to use a phrase created by the company itself, it's "like Yelp for dogs."
We've all yelped for a dog at some point in our lives, but staring at this concept made me think that this app (and its accompanying site) would be the equivalent of reading reviews from the everyday world written by dogs.
I am sure many people would love to discover which doggy parks have brittle grass and smell like ant excreta. Who wouldn't want to know which street light provides the perfect angle, texture, and general environment for urination?
And just imagine a restaurant review written by a curmudgeonly Pomeranian--"The floor had too many splinters. And the food that dropped from the table reminded me of a garbage can I once inadvertently stumbled into."
However, FidoFactor--currently covering just New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Portland, Ore., falls a little short of every dogged doggy's dreams.
It does keep you informed about dog-friendly locations. Just like many review sites, it offers you various categories by which to judge dog suitability: Dog-friendly tables, leash policy, and--that most vital thing for many pooches--heating.
But that's the point: it offers YOU these things. Everything on Fido Factor is a little too human. Take this restaurant review for the Grove on Fillmore. While giving the Grove five stars, or rather what look like little doggy biscuits, the reviewer writes: "Good food with friendly staff. Owners have rescue pets and have big hearts."
You see, it's all about the humans. Surely, Precious the Pomeranian will want to know about far more basic factors like the lickability of the furniture and the sniffabililty of the floorboards.
Dogs are people, people. They are their own beings with their own feelings. Please let's try and make FidoFactor something that is truly dog-centric. Let's try to elicit what really makes our dogs happy, even if we have to get Cesar Millan to teach us canine language that we then re-interpret into reviews that will be meaningful for dogs.
Only then can Fido Factor truly be a factor in improving a dog's life.