Satire | Nine problems therapy dogs can’t fix

By Alex Dolinger, Staff Columnist

Whenever the crushing weight of reality conveniently overwhelms me on a Tuesday, I always know where to go — the Cathedral of Learning to see therapy dogs. Those good boys and girls got me through many a failure, be it exams, relationships or organs. Due to pandemic restrictions, I think it’s unlikely that we’ll be seeing those beautiful creatures, so it’s time to learn to live without them.

This is shaping up to be an anxiety-inducing school year, and without our furry friends to give us their silent yet transcendent wisdom, we are essentially raw-dogging it through a year when we need dogs most. But I think we can all take comfort in the fact that there are some problems that therapy dogs were never going to fix, so it’s time to face them on our own, once and for all. Here they are, in no particular order:


The line at Einstein’s Bagels

If you’re familiar with my work, you know that I love a good cry in a Posvar bathroom, followed by an Einstein’s bagel. If you’re a human being with eyes and a tolerance for gluten, you also know that the line for Einstein’s is always too long for you to pop into before your class like you were hoping. If Einstein’s is not another casualty of a COVID-19 world, you know that social distancing guidelines will make that line feel even longer than it actually is. No amount of lovingly petting a corgi wearing a t-shirt will ease the pain of realizing you have to leave the line, bagel-less, to get to your class on time.


Pitt’s reopening plan

It’s unclear if Pitt’s plan to reopen involves therapy dogs or not, just like it’s unclear if it involves non-delusional thinking. As I’m writing this, it was just announced that students will go through a coronavirus safety training program and then be able to report other students who aren’t adhering to the safety guidelines. I personally can’t wait to feel like a fancy spy in the name of public health. I have watched all of the “Charlie’s Angels” movies in quarantine to prepare for this moment. I also can’t wait to take class in tents and feel like I’m an elementary school student sitting underneath a parachute. But this one really makes me mourn the loss of therapy dog access because they could release an entirely different plan by the time you’re reading this, and my heart cannot take it. When we find out professors are being replaced by the Starship robots, I will write another column.


The new

This one hurts. Times are already about as uncertain as they can be, so logging into and being greeted with pure chaos was a real blow to my patience. Not only does my original bookmark lead to an error 404 — a betrayal — but when I type it out manually and make it to the homepage, I am forced to bear witness to several similar icons that lead you to different places. There is also a black chalkboard-style banner explaining that the website has been remodeled, as if it is not obvious. There is a rocket ship on this banner, and I just want to know what I did to deserve this. 


The heartbreak you feel listening to the new Taylor Swift album

Unlike most of us, Taylor Swift decided to use quarantine to be productive and advance her career. I literally cannot imagine doing that, but I’m glad she did. If you’ve ever wanted to know what it feels like to be a depressed cottagecore lesbian, listen to this album and think about the person you’re currently pining after. This album makes me feel like a Virginia Woolf-era secret lesbian, writing letters to my secret lover about the pain of growing older, as well as the pain of having to throw elaborate parties for my stupid husband. I guess that’s the thing about illicit affairs.


Your roommate’s boyfriend

I think an inevitable situation that a lot of us “pod” members will face is when one of your roommates decides to quarantine with their significant other. I’m a member of several Facebook support groups because I love voicing my opinion — I have the best job ever — and it seems that poor roommates everywhere are struggling to share space with Gretchen’s boyfriend. Be wary of men who take refuge in your apartment without contributing a morsel of rent or groceries. I used to live in a sorority house and know the horrible pain of walking out of one’s bedroom and seeing someone’s boyfriend sitting on the couch and staring at the wall. Can we all agree to protect the sanctity of our pods in this time of dog-lessness?


The one “pod” member everyone hates

Once upon a therapy dog Tuesday, I choked back tears while petting a Bernese Mountain Dog because I thought my roommate hated me — she definitely did, and I definitely deserved it. Getting adjusted to a new living situation is one of the most stressful things I went through as a college student, and now that we can’t mitigate it with dogs, there will be more drama than ever before. You absolutely know that there’s gonna be one person in every dorm pod who no one likes. Plus, due to the fact that you can only hang out with your pod, that person is totally gonna know everyone hates them, and they’re gonna pee in the sink out of spite. Definitely not speaking from experience.


Your friend starting a podcast

I’ve been lucky enough not to experience this myself, but I know it could happen to me at any point. When a friend of yours starts a podcast, you are obligated to listen to that podcast, or you’re a bad friend. Everyone knows this to be true. But if you really think about your friends, none of them have anything interesting to say that you haven’t already heard. Now that we’re all alone with our own thoughts, we seem to think other people want to hear them. This is not always the case. And now that there’s nothing to do, you have no excuse not to listen to them. Get ready to listen to Jackson talk about fishing with his dad for 45 minutes and get ready to text him and tell him it was great.


Realizing you’re gay

College is a time for self-discovery. Sometimes, the thing that you discover is that you’re gay. It can be very troubling when you get to live as a straight person for many years and then discover that you have a crush on your best friend. It seems to happen to a lot of people in college, especially in a place like Pitt where everyone is gay. If you’re going through this important and often stressful discovery, I am sorry that you have to come to terms with it in isolation. But now is the perfect time to watch “Sense8” and tell your childhood best friend you’ve been thinking about them.


Having to discuss the reading that you didn’t do

This is my most recycled joke, but it’s also my most honest and relevant one, so I will continue to tell it. The most fearful experience of my entire life was when I was in an online class and got put in a breakout room to participate in a discussion about a book I didn’t read. I think it’s pretty clear at this point that no one does the reading, but I am still desperate to appear as though I have been doing the reading. I am about to be a senior and I have maintained this stance the whole time. I can’t wait to spend the whole of this year saying “my favorite thing about the book was how human it was, and the figurative language really stood out to me.” The dogs can’t help me now. No one can.


Alex is a senior studying theatre arts and nonfiction writing. They primarily write satire. You can reach them at [email protected].