Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ten Reasons It Would Be Great To Be a Dog

Walking with the dog pack the other morning I was congratulating a rescue on how much weight he had lost and I thought to myself how great it would be to be a dog.

It's not the first time I've had that thought, and of course, it would only be great to be one of the dogs such as those who hang out at my place -- pampered and loved. And I'm sure if I woke up one morning and was a dog it might not be all I imagine, like a shock collar if I couldn't keep my mouth shut (although there are times that might also be a good thing).

So I spent a little time imagining how great it would be to be a dog. Here's a few of the things that a tired, hungry dog walker came up with. I'll start where Bruce's weight loss got me going.

1. If you're fat, it's not your fault. You're genetically programmed to be a lean hunter, to skip meals, eat healthy and get lots of exercise. Then your human buys you crappy food, or bribes you with yummy stuff because they are worried that you're not eating. Or they simply won't take you for the walks you crave. Whatever it is, if you go to the vet and they say you've gained weight, they aren't going to scold you. And anyone who knows dogs won't look at you and go, "Gee, you really should walk away from the food bowl and get some exercise." Nope, it's entirely on your person.

A downside to that is if the fat makes you feel bad, there isn't much you can do about it. A dog's brain doesn't recognize what is causing the weight, so he'll still eat those yummy treats and lie around on the couch. But if he just thinks he should eat, a responsible owner won't be serving up an extra helping of kibble.

2. Along those same lines, you never have to stop and think about what you're going to eat and whether or not it's a good choice. If you have an owner who buys good food and doesn't overfeed you, then all you do is walk to the bowl when you're hungry or it is meal time. Even if they do put out more than you need, you don't have to eat it. There's also no midnight munchies unless you've saved some of your dinner. So if your owner realizes you've gained weight, dieting is out of your hands. (That seems an especially attractive option at about 9 p.m. some evenings.)

3. You really like to exercise and a good owner will know that and make sure you get the opportunity. There's nothing better than a walk with your owner, unless it's a wild running game that may involve other dogs as well. Seriously, getting in the habit of walking is a lot more natural for you than your owner because there aren't so many distractions.

4. Sleep. The expression working like a dog really doesn't apply to a house dog. Nope, while you may go all out on a walk, or practically hyperventilate when the UPS truck pulls in the driveway, in between those spells of intense activity, you can sleep. Oh, to sleep like a dog. You could drop down on the sofa and grab 10 minutes, curl up by the fire for 30, cuddle back into the bed when the alarm clock goes off. When it comes right down to it, if you're not actually, physically doing something, you'll be asleep. That could be the best part.

5. You would not spend time worrying or feel the need to occupy your mind with wasted activities, which is one of the reasons you'd be able to grab that quick cat nap. Food appears when you need it, and if not you go hungry. You aren't worried about it. A few trips to the bowl and eventually someone gets the message, or you skip a meal. Once again, you're not worried. And since you have no concrete concept of time, you know when someone is gone, but with few exceptions you're not going to be a creature that worries about their return. Sure, if you're a dog with separation anxiety, you might, but in general you miss them a bit and then they are back. You darn sure aren't worried about them driving late at night on a snowy road.

6. Although I think dogs recognized death and their mortality at some point when they are old, they don't worry about dying. Death is just going to sleep again and setting aside the pain that life may be at that point. I've been with a lot of my dogs when they breathed their final breath and it seems like the release they've been seeking. Even a dog mortally wounded wouldn't be worried about the fact they were dying, or if not dying, about their recovery time.

7. You're uninhibited. Wouldn't it be great to really feel free to act like you felt? Imagine being able to share the joy your dog feels when you come home with the people you're glad to see. Everyone around knows when a dog is really happy and excited. We bottle up a good portion of it. And although too much excitement at the wrong time might gain you a scolding and the need to put a lid on it, there aren't a lot of expectations on how you manage your emotions. Wag your tail, dance, spin in circles, curl up and sulk, walk away, chew a bone in frustration, just don't bite or do any spiteful marking.

8. Being loved at a really simple, basic level. Just as you would love unconditionally, you'd be loved the same way in return. Good owners love their dogs just for their presence. For the comfort exchanged by sitting side by side, the peace of a good tummy rub, the partnership on the farm or a long hike, just for simply being there at the end of a long day at work. Even if you made a mistake and had an accident, or chewed the wrong thing, you might be scolded, but you'd be forgiven.

9. Never cleaning up after yourself. Face it, a human might scold you for making a mess, but you're never going to get it up. Hair on the furniture, napkin chewed in the floor, poop on the carpet. Yep, it may be an acceptable mess or they may be mad and give you a tongue lashing, but you'll never have to clean it up.

10. You'd be in touch with your senses and instincts in a way people aren't. Yes, you really would hear that car that comes every morning when it turns on your road and your owner thinks you're insane. You wouldn't be wasting time at that clump of grass, you'd be learning about the animals that passed nearby since the last time you were there. That coyote poo in the road would be just as exciting and wild as a visit to the zoo for a human. And when someone came toward you with less than honest intentions, you'd be able to smell it in their breath, sense it in the way they moved. Their lies would not deceive your ears at all.

So there, some days I think it would nice to be a dog. Maybe just for a little while. Until I caught up on sleep. And lost that weight I've allowed myself to gain.

Then again, I think about the things I'd have to give up and I guess I'll just stay a biped.

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