by Betty Zubritsky
And there you have it.
People who live with dogs and people who work with dogs are somehow not the same species. People are, and dogs are, but the place where they intersect is somehow not on any grid. This doesn’t mean that either of those people-groups can’t come to an understanding. It means that they can if … IF IF IF … they define a dog.
Defining a dog must explore the dog. He is not a miniturized four legged human thing. He is precisely who he is. He likes the human thing. He relies on the human thing. But he is not the human thing. He can adore you and lay in your lap on the sofa and watch movies and eat chex-mix. He can learn to not pee in the house. He can treat children and cats and birds in your household as if he does not want to eat them, and for as long as you keep giving him food, he will keep pretending. But he will, and he will joyfully, go full out no holds barred pound the ground I have no idea what you’re saying when a squirrel goes a-scamper across his field of vision.
He’s a dog.
Squirrel go a-scamper excites his very soul.
We talk of DNA in the theater of forensic science. It is the tool that describes a perpetrator, without fail. Judges allow it, prosecutors use it, jurors make verdicts on it, and everybody knows it is utterly infallible. What we ignore, what we fail to acknowledge while we are faced with this very provable truth, is the very depth of it. DNA is the essence of who we are.
Not just serial killers. All of us. Dogs too.
There is no way to make a dog be a person. It just plain isn’t in his DNA.
What he is? He is the domesticated version of a predator. THAT is who he is. He  tolerates you, he abides by you, he suffers you, he obeys you …. because there is a reward in so doing. He knows precisely who he is. It is his heritage. It is his very being. He suffers you while he knows who he is. It is forever etched in him, and he accepts what you offer.
Because he is a predator. That defines an opportunist.
He is every minute of the love you have for him. He is your sweetie gooey drippy whobegobby all day long if you know and respect who he is. The very minute you don’t, when you get complacent, when your relationship with him changes … the rules become his own.
Dogs are fantastic. Dogs have it all figured out. Dogs will outlive us, and rightfully so. We care too much about things that don’t matter.
Religion. Dog says pthhhhhththtththtrhththt.
Politics. Dog says Fancy house, big yard, bunnies? This has possibilities. Who’s that guy and why is there so much attention on him when I would like to have a cookie?
Global warming. Dog says Can we buy me a coat please? Yeah, I don’t get it either, but apparently being really cold right now proves the theory.
Dog is entirely his own self. Who is he?
Who is he not?He doesn’t live in a vaccuum. He is as propelled by his daily life as he is by his own history. He is more torn between the two than you will ever be. What he chooses relies on you.
Be what he needs.