Sunday, July 11, 2010

All I Really Need to Know I Learned From Dogs





I have decided that dogs are very smart and are willing to impart their wisdom to us if we will only listen, watch and learn.

---Do your duty, even if it's self imposed.

When our girls were in grade school we had cousins, along with the attendant adults, visit for a long weekend. We shared our home with Buster, an English Springer Spaniel. As indoor sleeping arrangements were somewhat limited we put up the tent in the backyard for a place to sleep for our girls and their cousins. The yard is completely enclosed by a patio wall, and was Buster's domain. The cousins brought a portable VCR complete with monitor that they had used in their van. They took that into the tent and we hooked it up using a long extension cord. After awhile they came in and asked to take the microwave out to the tent so they could make popcorn. We drew the line at that. Buster decided that since they were children and in his domain they obviously needed his protection. All night long he patrolled around the tent and around the backyard, doing his duty to protect the young. He would not go in the tent and by all accounts spent all night on guard. When morning came with light and adults, he relinquished his job, came in the house and slept most of the day. He had done his duty.

---Protect the young.

Me holding Suzie as a pup.

Adult female Boxer. Although not Suzie, she looks very much like Suzie.

My first Boxer was a young female named Suzie. I was about 15 and my brother 6 years old. One day my father and brother were wrestling and my brother squealed. Suzie went over to where they were and started watching intently. Dad noticed this and said to my brother “I'll pretend to hit you and you scream like you've been hurt. Let's see what Suzie will do.” When my brother screamed Suzie clamped her jaws down on my father's forearm without breaking the skin and looked up at him as if to say “That's enough. Knock it off or I'll have to get serious about this.” That ended the wrestling. I said “Try it with me.” We did but Suzie paid no attention to my problem. Obviously I was big enough to take care of myself.

---Show tolerance and patience with idiots but only up to a point.

This dog is a brindle female who looks a lot like Kitty.

The first Boxer I knew was a brindle female named Kitty. Weird name for a big female Boxer dog but that's what it was. Kitty belonged to an aunt and uncle of mine. Their house had a back door that opened onto the driveway. When you opened the back door you could go straight down the stairs to the basement or turn right and go into the kitchen. One day my cousins and I were playing in the driveway with the back door open and Kitty just outside the door keeping an eye on us. A cat came along and started taunting Kitty. The cat paraded back and forth in front of her, swishing her tail, moving toward the door and generally being obnoxious. Eventually Kitty had enough. She took a swipe at the cat with one big front paw, connecting and sending the cat head over heels down the basement stairs. One can and should only tolerate so much.


---Being gorgeous or smart or rich does not guarantee extra privileges.

Buster all gussied up in front of the offended loveseat.
Buster was not allowed on furniture except for one of our daughters' bed and our sons bed. I couldn't even get him to stay on my bed for warmth when I was ill, ala Three Dog Night, because he knew he shouldn't be there. However, one day he had a bath and a hair trim, etc. He was beautiful and he knew it. Now surely he would be allowed on the love seat to properly show off his gorgeousity. Big mistake. His claws caught in the fabric making little pulls of thread pop up. Instead of cover boy for Dog Beautiful Magazine, he instantly became caninis non gratis.

---Don't cut off your nose to spite your face.

Bosco was a big(90#) male Boxer I acquired in medical school. By the time I was an intern I couldn't take care of him so I sent him to my parents. There he had the run of a big back yard and two adults to fuss over him. In the back yard he had a big old cooking pot for water. The birds thought this was a good deal and would come to his pot, sit on the rim, get drinks, etc. This was HIS pot and he resented their using it. He would run over to the pot and “woof” at them to make them move, and then go back to his shady spot and lie down. This went on until Bosco got tired of it, walked over to the pot, deliberately put one paw on the rim and turned it over. That'll show those stinikin' birds who's in charge here! By the time he got into the house again he was plenty thirsty.

Bosco looked very much like the middle dog above.
---If it's too good to be true it probably isn't true.

Bosco was three years old when he came to live with me. He had been loved by a family and been quite well trained. He did not get on the furniture, which was good because I was gone a lot. Or so I thought. I started finding a depression on my bed, with fawn Bosco colored hair in the 90# dog sized hole. I discussed this with him but he denied all knowledge and seemed hurt that I would even think it might be him. Once I picked him up and put him on the bed. He immediately began trembling, jumped off the bed and appeared very upset. A few days later I left for school and forgot something. I had barely gotten to the end of the driveway before I turned around and went back. There was Bosco already on the bed. You have never seen a more embarrassed dog. He leaped off the bed with a horrified expression on his face, all obsequious and begging forgiveness. I swear he said “Boss, I don't know how I got up there! I must have had a seizure or something. You know I would never get on your bed!”Of course it started all over the next day.

I'm sure there are many more stories to illustrate my point. Remember to watch your canine friends and learn some of the best things you need to get through this life relatively intact.

3 comments:

  1. Excellent lessons, beautifully told.

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  2. Puppies!

    Matt was telling me about an article which said that monkeys are overall more intelligent, but that dogs have more empathy and emotional intelligence. For example, if a monkey wants something that it can't get to, when a human goes to get it, the monkey will attack the human because it assumes that the human is trying to get it for himself. If a dog wants something out of reach, when the human goes to get it, the dog assumes that the human is getting it for him and get's excited and grateful. Dogs were suppose to also be better at identifying the moods and emotions of humans.

    They are truly a remarkable animal.

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