Although such a relationship is generally accepted as ordinary and typical, there is much intrigue, fascination and…well, head scratching when it comes to the human-canine connection.
People often declare themselves either cat or dog people. After enjoying living with both species I don’t recall ever feeling strongly enough to claim to be one more than the other, and actually lived quite happily for a long while during which time my kids’ aspirations to own a pet of any kind were effectively curtailed.
But now – and I’m sure a psychoanalyst would have a field day with the reasons why – I have become hopelessly ensnared in the dog-person trap. I wonder if the realisation that my 12 and nine-year-old kids no longer required the level of care they once did, may have uncovered a roughly dug hole that our family dog has filled.
Against my husband’s better judgement we got a puppy “for the kids.” It was also against my better judgement, but I was better at ignoring the voice growling “No!” in my head – yet another point for the analyst.
Dingo is our second dog, and I spend an inordinate amount of time appreciating that this second dog, an Australian shepherd, is so very different from our first dog, a Siberian husky.
In fact, life with Dingo is such a walk in the park, I often find myself wondering if she might suffer from some sort of mental impairment that renders her, in comparison to her predecessor, so very agreeable. The husky had a mind of her own that was rarely on the same path – literally or figuratively – as mine, but for the most part, Dingo will happily stay close by, listen well, and remarkably, endure regular brushing and nail clipping…all of which were absolutely out of the question for the husky.
But like most dog-people, I sometimes treat my canine companion as though she has a degree of intelligence not typical of the species.
I speak in, and fully expect her to understand complete sentences, including please and thank you at the appropriate times. But even more ridiculous than wasting words on full sentences, I ask my dog… questions?
I regularly catch myself enquiring of her, “What on Earth are you barking at?” or, “Don’t you think it’s time to come in inside out of the snow storm?”
…which leads me to wonder again about her mental competence as she refuses to come in out of the cold even though she is visibly shivering, there are tiny snow balls adhered to the hair on her belly, and she’s limping because of the snow caked between the pads on her paws. I end up spending a ridiculous amount of time coaxing her inside…and no, it doesn’t escape me that this is actually a training exercise, with little doubt as to who is playing which part.
One of the most humourous aspects of the human-canine relationship is that dog toys are clearly made to be more appealing to humans than to dogs. I suspect our pup is eager to sink her chops into a stuffed, furry hamburger loaded with colourful condiments for reasons other than it “comes with the works.” And, ironically, I have discovered that the chews Dingo goes wild for are those that are least appealing…well, revolting, to me.
Recently as I watched my sweet, cuddly puppy tear apart a beef knuckle with alarming enthusiasm and impressive proficiency, I sighed and thought about how far she’s come in the 11 short months since we got her. It seems like only yesterday she was gnawing on a marrow bone, and before that, macerating a pork tendon.