Dogs, especially those who’ve lived with other dogs before moving in with people, must find our kind a very strange beast. If we could look from inside a dog’s eyes we could be fairly sure we’re having a nightmare. Even though we love our favorite furry friends, do we really want to know what it’s like to do our business in the yard and eat dinner with no opposable thumbs at the mercy of a creature who has no idea what your favorite meals are? You’ve smelled canned dog food, right? (You don’t get extra points if you tasted it.)
What first got me thinking about this subject was when I recently had to cram a pill down my little dog’s throat. By now, she most likely thinks it’s some sort of weird hobby, but the first time I did it, she must have given some thought to checking in at the local dog shelter.
Consider someone you really like, someone who strokes you, tells you’re pretty and generally seems to enjoy your company, like your spouse. Now, say this person after 13 years of marriage-in dog years-strides into your bedroom, wakes you from a pleasant dream and then, with no preamble, forces your mouth open and crams his hand down your throat, removes said hand, pats you on the head and walks off.
How would you react to this? I don’t know about you, but I was pretty angry and I told him it was unacceptable. But your dog can’t do this. All she can do is hope you’ve got it out of your system and, tell your dog friends that your person seems to be on crack.
What about barking? Every day my dogs stand guard as the last line of defense between me and the evildoers who could potentially break into my home, leaving nothing but blood and guts and nobody who knows how to use the can opener. They must be proud of their ferocity; pleased that there will be dinner tonight. And what do they get for their trouble, “SHUT UP!” It’s possible, since their English is limited, they think I’m saying, Good Job! emphatically, but, really I hope they know I mean, “SHUT UP!”
My husband once wrote a blog post on the subject of perception based on a conversation we had, where he wondered why our dog friends didn’t give up barking at the mail carrier as he only returns the next day. I told him the dogs most likely think they are overdue for an award for successfully protecting their house on a daily basis from the guy who drops his weapons and runs from the porch every day. I can’t confirm or deny this is true, but I like to think I’m always correct, so it’s true.
Then there’s the toy thing. Dog’s have few possessions, mainly because they have no pockets, but most have a toy they enjoy. Being the generous near-people they are, they often bring their best thing to their owners-who they think are their parents and wonder when we will admit the adoption secret. In response, we yank the toy from their mouths and throw it as hard as we can, forcing them to retrieve it. This must be puzzling, especially the first time it happens. There must be a sense of, Dude! WTF?
Once again, in the context of human relations, imagine your friend comes to your home and, in the course of your conversation, you show her your grandmother’s vase, passed down for generations and now in your capable hands. You show it to your pal who wrestles it from your fingers and tosses it into your dining room, then turns to you with over-the-top excitement and says, “Go get it! Go on! Good Girl!”
You would, of course, run happily into the next room and pick up whatever shards remain and quickly deposit them into your friends outstretched hands, all the while laughing and prancing about.
No you wouldn’t, because, if you’re reading this, you’re not a dog. You’d most likely demonstrate your displeasure through violence and you’d be found not guilty be a jury of your peers, which is why dogs are better people.
Despite having to assimilate to a world where the inhabitants seem to consider them an inferior species, but still demonstrate love and affection despite the “SHUT UP!” thing, our canine companions love us intensely, even sleeping in our beds with us, even though they’d probably prefer the comfort and roominess of their own. You know, like marriage.
My dogs on patrol.