May 24, 2005

This is why you take the dog camping

Because she'll get out of the car, and with joyous enthusiasm and glee bound into a mud puddle, and proceed to wriggle around in it until she is covered in the happy mess.

Sometimes I envy the dog. I mean, I am always hoping to embrace my opportunities for joy, bizarre or illogical as they might be with the same such enthusiasm.

And I am always hoping they will be equally cathartic:

Now, let me explain something about Lucy, the D-O-G in question. She's kinda...moody.
I mean, don't get me wrong, I adore Lucy. Just ask her propper owner. If given the chance I'll gaze at her in adoration for longer than is natural and give her a cookie for every single cute or obedient or charming thing she does. I mean, I have more pictures of lucy than I do of any of my friends and she is NOT EVEN MY DOG.
But lucy has some personalities ...quirks, shall we say.
She whines incessantly, and seemingly without cause. She yanks and pulls on the leash with all her might and is difficult to walk, but needs to be kept on the leash, because, frankly, she isn't always the friendliest of doggies. I mean, don't misunderstand: like most dogs of her breed she is very very social. Almost overwhelmed by the desire to sniff and play with pooches. But quite often she snarls and barks and she has almost dethroated another dog I know.
So yes, she's needy, unpredictable and even kind of violent.

And I had always assumed that this was just the way she was. So it was to my infinite surprise that she became calm, quite and almost docile after a weekend camping. I was more than impressed that the night after we returned she simply scampered happily to her bed and slept all night instead of whining at the door to be near me. When I took her on a walk she stopped at every corner with very little prompting.

So, following a hunch the next day I took her on a very very long walk and made sure the D-O-G had F-U-N. Catch, lots of smell time with the plants, treats. And then I took her to the Lucky Lab, a place just packed with other dogs. Not a snarl, not a bark, not a hair on end for an hour. Lucy, basically, acted like every other happy pooch in the lot, like a mentally well adjusted little pup.

Now, I realize I am anthropomorphizing more than is healthy for anyone. But it's hard not think, looking back, that it isn't so much that Lucy is kinda nuts, as that she is trying to express some very real needs: to get out and work off some energy and have some fun. She just wants some attention and some recreation. Exercise and love.

And I don't mean this post as any reflection on whether lucy normally gets the love and recreation she needs. I know her master adores her and has looked after her over several continents and in a myriad of situation and she still gazes at him, with, well, her loving puppy dog stare.

I only mean to ruminate a bit of the nature of dog and what might be learned:
Dogs are these very emotional and physical creatures. They want and need, and much like babies, can only cry and scream and squirm to communicate their desires. And sadly, often, they get the opposite of what they need when they express such yearning.
I know it wasn't my instinct to spend MORE time around Lucy when she whined and to take her to public places when she snapped and snarled.

I suspect we humans are much the same, and that much of our acting out, our personality issues take root in the base of unmet needs and trying to find a way to get them met.
And sometimes we express these needs in the most counterproductive way.
Even worse, we are apt to deny ourselves the very things we need at the times we need it most, further compounding the issue and delaying the necessary catharsis.

I mean, I'm pretty sure Lucy would never voluntarily hold in her urine, or play hard to get when she wanted to be pet, or leave her doggie bowl full when she was thirsty or put off a walk when she needed excercise.

So in the same way I envy the dog for her ability to fully embody her needs and as such, immediately enjoy all the mud puddles and doggie snacks life hands her. As much as I wish my catharses could be so complete, albeit temporary, I also have to be really really happy that I am not a puppy. Because I CAN ask for what I need in a clear and concise way when I need it. And theoretically I am more in control of how I express my needs, and of getting my own needs met. I can take myself camping and feed myself treats and roll in mud puddles without waiting for my master to release the leash.

The only trick is to remember to do so. And to make it a point to give myself what I need so I don't snap at my friends, whine at strangers, and always tug and pull in one direction or another, when the whole point is the walk I am already on.


Anonymous said...

More on the human-dog stuff: unsnipped male dogs want to f**k all the time, and I don't know if they know why. Human males want the same thing, and most of the time we don't know why.

Angry Hickeys said...

I'm guilty...I need to spend more quality time with my pooch.

This weekend were going walking...really.

daff0dil said...

shit, no finger pointed intended

and as for doggies and D*Gs

well, lets just say much of the human endeavor has to do with getting our groove on and leave it at that