A reader is on the same page as De Niro, seen above:
I am a life long “dog person” who has been going through a conversion. I am pretty sure I own my last dog precisely because one day the amount of basic existential dependency my dog has on me stopped affirming me and started making me feel guilty and needy. He’s a great dog! But he has no independent purpose beyond me. His work is to do what I’m doing – to follow me to work, where he lays at my feet. And to the dog run, where he will only play with other dogs when I am watching. And to my errands, where if he’s lucky he gets treats and when he’s not he gets tied up outside.
From a resource allocation perspective, my dog is my personal sidecar that eats meat, shits into plastic bags, pees on trees sometimes despite my best efforts, and occasionally needs a car. This bugs me. But what really bugs me is that he wakes up every morning and devotes his life to me for no clear purpose beyond keeping me company. I feel sad and needy when I think about this.
Previous thoughts from readers here.