CANIS SAPIENS SAPIENS.
By your pet you will be taught
Recent academic studies in the USA have established without any shadow of doubt that our little Miko, Bonzo or Tuti is a fully grown homo sapiens sapiens and that all our dogs share the same range of emotions and feelings that we have. It bears little thinking to wonder just what they make of us and why they put up with our induced slavery and depravity. Only genuine dog lovers can understand what this means and perhaps secretly smile a little at the bewilderment of all those who look and listen with amusement and perhaps horror as we fuss our little pets with encouragement and love. There is nothing that can replace sheer day to day experience with our dogs and the exciting discovery that they not only have a sense of humour, but feel quite safe in your hands (if treated with affection) because it understands you better than you them. They surrender to the slavery treatment and are willing to go along knowing that those hands are going to tickle, rub or jostle playfully as often as required. In fact what we actually do experienced and not so expert, is to encourage patterns of behavior that would turn any of us into bumbling, grinning overgrown schoolboys quite happy to just stay there, get fed, played with and told to shut up every now and then. But they are not like that at all and take a very balanced and serious view of life with all the anxieties for survival and concern for the future of our children as they do. In fact, once again, they do it so much better. Perhaps fussing and treating them as toys is not the way to do things for them, but then that is what their reactions train US to do. We do what they expect and they expect what we do. There is a middle course and which, of course, is parental discipline which they utilize among themselves and from which we could learn a great deal about how to bring up our children.
The sudden realization that we are dealing with a deep thinking companion who takes everything into account comes without warning as our pet suddenly shows a compassion or concern that we often confuse with mere coincidence. This ability to pick up moods and observe an alarming pattern comes with an instinctive objective observation on the part that no amount of Sufi training would be able to achieve in humans. They see what is there and not what we would expect it to be. Their power of association and retention of moment and detail does the rest. This is reflected in the psychological reaction and behaviour patterns produced by traumas we often subject them to. The awareness of their captivity and the threat to their survival starts when our pets grow up to understand that you not only have a capability of doing them harm, but are likely to cause it. All that sniffing, checking of exit points, height of walls etc. is part of the plan to get out as soon as it becomes possible and as soon as they lull you into a false sense of security. They do a great many things much better than we do and are much faster at working out who is who and where trust or caution is due. Sometimes, an unexpected reaction produces those goose pimples in us that tell us that something extraordinary has happened. Our stupid little pet has suddenly gone and done what you were going to ask it to do. Pet is looking around for something you have not shown him yet. The situations are endless and always stultifying. Fifteen years with a whole pack of otherwise wild Spanish dogs made it quite clear, that I was boss, but only whilst I stuck to the rules. Even then, I was automatically forgiven when upsetting an important course of action, but not without a good dressing down in the form of a sustained barking at not normally present. Leadership and concern for personal safety in the tussle for command is yet another touching and sad experience as they wilt and stare with that terrible look of helplessness, knowing as they do, that their decay is a sign of submission and often grave concern for the attack that could come from the emerging leader. It tells you to take them with you somewhere safe in your own lair perhaps because they know that ultimately you will protect them there away from the others. How many times I have repeatedly cried out for the others to hear “You are captain and the greatest …” listened to with dismay by the pretenders but never failing to produce a march past them with tail up high with that controlled wagging that says “There you are ….. At your peril” Tease them with childish unexpected shoves or grabs and feel those razor sharp teeth instantly brush your hand – but stop short with instant realization that you are exempt – that it is playful banter. Even toddlers with reckless impunity who grab and poke unknowingly, hardly ever suffer from the sort of reaction that could be expected under the circumstances. The realization gap is always there and that means - sapiens, sapiens.
Survival is the most important element in their lives, as it is with us in a way, but food is precious at all times and procreation a matter of that same process of transferring life. Control at those two points often goes overboard no matter what the training may have been. Most other things however can go unnoticed simply because they are happily submissive and answers lovingly to its name whilst the food continues to appear. Take that and water away and the submission becomes a complaint and later – rebellion. But then that is so human anyway…… Bringing a dog up therefore (and by implication any domestic animal) must follow exactly the same pattern as that which we utilize to bring up our own children for that is what they are – an extension of our family. Make mistakes and pay for them later. Encouragement at the right time and determent in others is the most practical way of looking at upbringing, but the delight is in the sharing of moments of equal values and the wonder at their tolerance as we do things stupidly but with a heart that they understand. I found that out when my Belgian Malinois sheepdog started to give birth in the empty kennel she had found for herself. I watched the miracle of birth with astonishment, not having been present at exactly the right time before. They were coming out so fast, or so I though, that she barely had time to take and eat their sacs and cut the umbilical cord so precisely and so close to their little bellies. Just like a pair of pliers – with the side of her mouth and her grinders which helped to seal the cut, I imagine. All that practical knowledge inherited by genes… I could not resist helping her in my stupid way by gently pulling out the next whilst she dealt with the one before. She did not have to say a word. Her wet nose, like a gentle glove pushed my hand aside as skillfully as if I had been led by someone’s hand. Her eyes rose from her task for a brief instant shining into mine with the slight smile that tugged at the corner of her mouth, but telling me graphically, “I wish you wouldn´t...” If I had insisted, she would have let me carry on, but nature knew best and she hoped, without shadow of any other interpretation that I would understand. It was a moment of such closeness that underlined everything I was beginning to see not just about them, but myself and the grotesque creatures that we as clumsy humans, can be.
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