The Dogs Know You Better Than You Know You

It’s usually on Saturday when you get the dog guilt.

They come and stare at you with those eyes, giving you that deep, soulful look you’ve seldom seen before, except maybe from that girl you went out with in your freshman year of college. She looked at you that way sometimes, but her gaze was not nearly so intense or unwavering, and unlike the dogs, she was complicated. And the truth is that you can take care of what the dogs want, but with her, who knows? And in that way dogs are much better than college girlfriends.

So you take them out somewhere and play ball or throw the stick or take a long walk in Thacher Park. You get to feel less bad about not spending time with them during the week and they get some unbridled exuberance. An hour later, the dogs may not remember what you did, but you’ll remember, and it’s those moments that help make us feel good.

But it doesn’t stop there.

You get home and instead of just serving up the dry food, you top each bowl with some scrambled eggs. Pure protein.

And then they sleep and you are satisfied that you’re a good person – at least until later in the day when they start staring at you again, and it dawns on you that there’s a word for people like you. And that word is “sucker.”

4 Responses to The Dogs Know You Better Than You Know You

  1. So ok, I like dogs. And I like people. But I am endlessly confused by dog people, so I wonder if I could get your opinion on this.

    This is really nothing personal against you or any other dog owner, as I think you are unconscious of these actions. But I’m the type that can’t help but see the bigger picture in a lot of aspects of human life, and this is one of them. My conclusion: 98% of the time, dog ownership is animal cruelty at the least and some form of animal slavery (if that’s a thing) at the worst.

    Dogs are animals that have been stolen from their mothers, removed from virtually all the conditions of what makes a dog a dog, trained to beg and perform tricks for food and conditioned as if they were humans. I get it that humans are all the things that dogs are not – complex, unpredictable, difficult to control – and so forming a “relationship” with a dog is clearly easier than with a human. But I also think that if you believe that sentence is true there is probably some physiological disorder in you that needs to be addressed by facing whatever issues you have so that you can learn to love humans, not by placing all your attention on a different species of mammal; I think too many people who are kind to animals are cruel to people, and use the former as a justification or replacement for the latter.

    • Those are some interesting points.

      Yes, there are clearly people who use animal relationships as a substitute for human relationships that they can’t make work.

      Anybody whose been around dog people has met these folks: they may seem awkward or rude or difficult to talk to, but they’re great with those dogs. Maybe a few of these people really do have a mental health problem — or maybe they’re just terribly shy. I hate to generalize. But for some people — including those who actually have a diagnosed condition that makes it difficult for them to relate to people — a dog can bring tremendous joy and fulfillment.

      As for animal slavery, I understand where you are coming from. Sometimes dog ownership really is animal cruelty; we hear the terrible stories every day, and I think there are many dogs who don’t have a good life. Can a dog today can enjoy the “conditions of what makes a dog a dog?” After so many generations of domestication, that’s hard to define.

      We’ll have to agree to disagree, because I buy into the dosmestication of animals — whether it be for food or companionship. The compromise that makes this OK in my head is that I want to see animals, whether on farms or in a home, cared for humanely.

      Does that make me a hypocrite? Maybe.

  2. Thanks for responding, I like to hear dog owners’ viewpoints on this.

    You make it OK in your head by saying that you “want to see animals, whether on farms or in a home, cared for humanely”. How do you make it OK in your head that you have taken it (I know it is not you physically doing the taking, but you have supported the act by owning the dog) from its mother?

    Moreover – do you think it is better for a dog to live its life with humans rather than with other dogs?

    • Well, my dog lives with another dog. ;)

      I guess I’d need to know more about how dogs would live with other dogs — without human interference. At this point it would be hard to reverse what we’ve done in terms of domestic dogs. Like a lot of things humans have done, right?

      One of my dogs lived with its mother for almost a year, by the way.

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