A Dog’s Life

So – in the interests of increased understanding between man and dog… Let me rephrase that. In the interests of increasing your understanding of us, I’ll unburden the oul’ soul. I was and am, always struck by the astounding – and I use that word very deliberately – stupidity of people where we are concerned. I mean, I’ve lived with people all my life. I’ve observed them since I was a little pup. Most think all dogs are deaf and dumb. They say most outrageous things about us, while I’m lying in front of them, gazing up at them with my happy dog look. If they only knew what I feel inside – profound disappointment and disgust, how my balls tighten up, as I listen to them. So why do I sit there with my happy dog look? Why? I know that’s what makes you assholes, sorry, people, happy and deep down, I guess, deep down in my conflicted soul – and I don’t say this easily – I want to make you happy. It’s a programming thing and sadly, I’ve been programmed or it’s Stockholm Syndrome shit or a combination of both. I know what reassures you, makes you feel good about yourselves, what validates you all. That’s how people like to talk now, validating their work, finding their center, releasing the inner child – shit like that. They reckon they’re the only ones going through these changes. This has been going on for as long as we’ve inhabited the planet. But the things they say, and always from a position of superiority. The message basically is: Aren’t you lucky, you poor, dumb creature to have somebody so kind, so intelligent, so caring as I am to look after you. So maybe I fucked up a few times, went away for three days and forgot to make a little sustenance available, got a little tipsy and locked you out on the coldest night of the year – the list goes on. But always, in your mind – How lucky you were that my ancestors took you in, domesticated you, deigned to become your masters. Your masters? When I hear that word, something ugly deep inside me stirs. Nobody, but nobody is our master and – we’re master of none.

We were not domesticated. We made a conscious decision, most of us, to work and co-habit with humans a long, long time ago. We didn’t come to the farm door, cold and shivering and begging to be taken in. No sir, it was a long slow process for us to trust in humans, to believe most are good though many cruel and vindictive and many, too many, just plain stupid. We knew the relationship would not be without its problems and we’ve had plenty – but overall we believe it has worked, though along the way I’ve doubted and despaired. Real doubts when in the middle of the night I hear a coyote howl or a wolf call to his mate. Then something stirs inside me and I wonder about the path we’ve chosen. Then I think that their path, the wolves, coyotes, dingoes and jackals – my cousins in the wild -that maybe they are following a truer path, a purer state of being, of existing. Maybe, maybe…

There was a meeting, a kind of tribal council a long time ago to decide our future course, whether we should begin to work closer with the humans who had begun to spread across our territories. All branches of the tribe, family, species were represented. And as they say, debate raged. (pause) Don’t, don’t, not even for a second. I know what’s going through your infantile brains. Oh, they’re dogs, how could they debate. That’s silly. They can’t communicate with each other. We’ve been living with you people for so long now, we can practically read your minds. You have such closed minds, such rigid positions where, not just animals but anybody different to you, even in your own species – a little darker, different language, religion, sexual orientation, tribe, region, country. Oh, yeah, you find it easy to discriminate, hate – and no problem finding targets. But over the coming years you will begin to learn astounding facts about not just us but all inhabitants, insect, fish, bird and animal of this crazy, unpredictable place you call planet Earth – and beyond.

Anyway, there was a meeting. Accounts of that meeting have come down through the ages. How much true, how much fabricated, is anyone’s guess. But some things we do know. It was orderly, impassioned, statesdoglike. Seven elders would make the decision when all who wished to speak had spoken. Each of the seven, highly respected for their wisdom and knowledge and connection to what had gone before, would make a summation of their position and cast their vote. The vote was four to three in favor of closer co-habitation with humans. Those who wished to live what they called in the pure state – and that designation itself was hotly debated – independent and with minimal human contact, were granted their wish to do so and all were admonished to respect the paths they had chosen and to live in harmony with the other. This has been the case with a few exceptions. So (pause) there is no master and mastered relationship.

I lived with a working family where my daddy lived and his daddy before him. They’re decent people and I never wanted for food or shelter, a good straw bed in the outhouse and usually enough food to get by. Whatever they ate, I ate, potato skins, bones from a stew, bread and even once in a while a bit of dessert, stewed apple and custard. Nobody heard of food for dogs in cans, then. There was, of course, a plentiful supply of rats and mice to supplement the diet. We lived in a small village on the edge of the countryside. Two minutes of a good trot and I was in another world and did I explore that world. It was a taste of how the other half lived, in total control of what I did, where I went and what I’d eat – as opposed to my normal day and diet. I would gallivant off on my own or with a buddy or two, the old instincts coursing through as if a switch was flicked on, hunting, searching rabbit burrows, following myriad scents till we were overwhelmed and had to rest. When I was younger, there were times I just had to be out and about, exploring, learning, assimilating. They were happy, happy times.

In all life development there is rapid growth and there is stasis. I believe my species has been in stasis for many moons but it is about to end. Humans had similar spurts of rapid development and creativity. Yet the baboon has ninety seven percent of your DNA, the fruit fly fifty seven percent – the fruit fly, imagine, as basic a DNA as there is. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, supercilious bastards. Sorry, that was uncalled for.

Of course all our species are descended from our one common ancestor – the wolf, the Chihuahua, bulldog and the wolfhound. Ironic, isn’t it, the wolfhound bred to hunt his ancestor, the wolf – the greyhound, bulldog, Jack Daniels, Pekinese, all manipulated by the hand of man for their own purpose. It is a situation I’m not particularly pleased or displeased about. It just is. We’ve evolved, as you have and as fashion, tastes and circumstances have change, you to be smaller, bigger, slimmer, fatter –an extreme example, the Sumo wrestlers – more aggressive, more passive, men more feminine, women more masculine, rings in your noses, ears and nipples, cocks and vaginas. We of the canine species have evolved and as stated, been manipulated by the hand of man – a hand often cruel and sadistic, usually more self-serving than dog serving. We’ve survived and become inseparable, man and dog and for us, there is no going back. We have made our bed, for better or worse, in sickness and in health and we must lie in it. Some of us lie in beds luxurious, some lie in rags, badly treated. Some are pampered and coddled so we lose our identity and become arrogant copies of the humans with which we associate. Our fates are as varied as yours with fate and circumstance elevating or leveling. You and I fight the same fight each day, to be upright, decent – and forgiving.

Like I said, your ignorance, lack of knowledge and yes, apathy towards the animals that live in close proximity to you, astounds me. You attribute little intelligence and a boatload of dumbness to us, secure in the belief that this is how it is. But I have to say, in my humble opinion, there is nobody or no thing dumber than a dumb human.

You are convinced you are intelligent, articulate, reasoned and peaceful. I would dispute all four but particularly the peaceful designation. You are not or ever will be – peaceful. You are not happy unless there’s a war happening somewhere on the planet. At any one time there are a half dozen or more vicious, all or nothing wars – with unspeakable crimes, at any one time – being fought.

There have been numerous world wars fought down through the centuries and many more to come. When I consider your war exploits, an uneasiness pervades my soul and I think what have we aligned with, man or the devil. Yet, you are capable of heroic deeds – of compassion, love, empathy, self-sacrifice. You truly are an enigma and when little is expected of you, you perform great deeds and when a lot is expected, you most often disappoint. Often you present a face to the world at odds to who you really are. We are many, many times more sensitive to your moods, easier to decipher the real you than your fellow humans. Living in close proximity, we know who you are – the fact that you attribute little intelligence to us working in our favor. We know you maybe more than you know yourself. I’ve seen trouble brewing before trouble even came into view.

Two years back I worked for a neighbor farmer for a few summer months. He was a good man. I can still feel his hand on my throat as he massaged under my throat or across my head as he listened to music or watched a little television. He had an ability to know what to do, how and where to stroke to make a dog feel good and when we sat together as he rubbed my fur and patted gently on my head, I was certain the elders had made the right decision those many years before.

But the farm took up a lot of his time and energy and maybe the bloom of romance had worn off especially for the young wife. Bob, the farmer was just too busy and too tired. Sexual activity between them had tapered off. But Sheila was someone who needed sex and often. Bob fell more and more behind in his husbandly duties. He took to making excuses. He was feeling under the weather. He had too much paperwork or a sinus infection or his back hurt. She was frustrated. I could sense that. Maybe he didn’t feel up to it, maybe it was a medical problem, but basically his sex drive was less than hers. Like I said, we have that ability. I could feel it. They loved each other, I could feel that too but she was hurt by his indifference. Maybe that was the beginning.

Things proceeded more or less as usual for a while. Then suddenly there was another man in the house. Bob had a small plumbing business and for some reason, had a hard time finding and keeping good workers. It wasn’t his fault. He treated his workers well, was fair and generous with them. So one day he brings a young fella home with him. He had just been hired and was ‘without accommodation’ as they say. Bob asked Sheila would it be alright if he moved in temporarily and took one of the girls rooms, now vacant. Sheila says sure so Ray moves in. Seemed like a nice guy, in his thirties, nice build, easy-going way about him, never knew if he had been married – he didn’t talk much and he was well-mannered. But I didn’t like the way he watched the woman as she moved about and bent to tend to the oven. When he saw Sheila for the first time – and I was there – I knew Trouble with a capital T had come a knocking. You see, I knew what Bob didn’t, that Ray’s sexual energy was a match for Sheila’s. It would only be a matter of time. When he gave her the eye she responded.  The farmer suspected nothing. This was a busy time for Bob, estimating jobs, supervising work and keeping up with paperwork. By this time he had four plumbers and two apprentices. He was at that awkward time in a business when decisions would need to be made, would I expand or would I keep it small and manageable. For now, he had refused no work.

They had two children, a boy and a girl and usually she was busy with them but where there’s a will, there’s a way and they found a way. When I sat by the fire and picked up the energy, sexual energy flowing back and forth between those two, I wondered how the farmer could not but notice – but notice he didn’t. Of course, the children were not getting the attention they needed. One day the children wandered out to the fields and the farmer wondered where his missus was and why the children were wandering about, unsupervised. He went looking for his missus and found her in the barn, her legs wrapped around Ray, so occupied that a train might have driven through and they wouldn’t have noticed. Well, there was hell to pay, the laborer sent on his way and the tearful missus put on a very short leash from that day forth. But I saw it coming from a long way off.

When I got wind of dog fights being staged for your pleasure where you gambled on one or the other I was angry. Then I had to shake my head. There was a time not too long ago where human was pitted against human, the loser usually killed. You now regard that time as barbarous and those people as barbarians. You still have boxing but at least the boxer makes the decision to box and it’s regulated, gloves, jockstraps, so many rounds, a certain time. All conditions met, they can beat the crap out of each other, while you sit ringside, drink out of flasks, bet on the outcome and scream ‘Kill the bastard.’

But you have this disconnect where animals are concerned. If you put two dogs in the ring to fight to the death, if you put two cocks in the ring to fight to the death then do the right thing and put humans in the ring to fight to the death. There should be no difference. Do you understand? There should be no difference. Animals, birds, whatever – they bleed, piss, shit, fuck, feel pain and feel joy. They feel maternal, paternal, good and bad, happy and sad. They love and they lose just like you. I used to get angry. Now I feel sad. But then I think about where they come from, the primeval ooze, the stagnant pond water…

I’ve always said, some of my kind has gone overboard on this loyalty shit. We have to put up with your bad temper, short memory, petulance, superiority complex and an amazing ability to forget bad deeds done while demanding unfailing loyalty and allegiance to the ‘master.’ I hate that word. But the unfortunate truth is it’s too late to backtrack. We’ve made our choice and we have to abide by it. But it’s an uneasy existence fraught with danger to rely on the innate decency of humans. Does it exist? Often I think not. Of course there are always stories of exceptional humans, but balanced with such stories are others of heartrending cruelty. We all can suffer so much and when the cruelty becomes unbearable, retaliate.  Such is a dog’s life. We must coax, cajole and entice you humans into better behavior. It’s okay for you to not feel well, to get sick, to throw up. If a dog throws up, oh, it’s disgusting. He threw up on the carpet. What’s wrong with him? He’s sick, dummy.