“You Need a Dog,” the new music video out from Las Aves, opens on singer Zoe Whalen sprawled dejected in a teenaged bedroom. Pictures of celebrities plaster the walls and a stuffed dog sits at her feet. She’s just been dumped, and in a wistful deadpan she sighs into the phone, “I wish I could find real love someday, real love.” Her friend responds, “I know what you need.”
Then the scene changes, and the music begins. Whalen frolics freely through a field in a white dress and veil, with a mid-size dog in tow and a big smile. She zooms down the street in a car decked out in “just married” accessories, steps into a guitar shop, and naps on a park bench.
Intermittently, she finds herself trapped back in the room from the first scene. Mascara melted down her cheeks, she draws a pentagram over an old photo of her boyfriend, then sets it ablaze. Whalen pantomimes the mythology we create of the relationships in our lives, casting old loved ones as demonic figures with an ironclad grip on our lives, when really they are just people who didn’t make us happy.
It’s hard not to envision love as a meritocracy. We want to believe that love is something that will be awarded when we have earned it. It’s in some ways easier than the more complicated truth, but it’s a much more devastating perspective when love falls apart.
“You Need a Dog” reminds us to build up the things in our lives that don’t revolve around conditional love. The last scene of the music video finds Whalen back in her bedroom, confidently sprawled as she lights a joint with the same lighter she used to set flame to her ex-boyfriend’s picture. There’s a sense of serenity as the camera pans out to show a huge poster of her new dog taped securely to the ceiling.