Dog Barf

My dog is stupid. He’s constantly getting under foot and tripping me, and in the process getting himself hurt. This happens most frequently in the kitchen. No matter how many times he yelps because he raced in front of me because he couldn’t resist the temptation of some dropped crumb, he’ll most certainly do it again almost immediately if the opportunity arises.

You’d think he’d learn after one, or two, or twenty times. My initial reaction is to want to exact vengeance on him for tripping me. I would consider it justifiable to punish him for allowing his stupidity to cause harm to both himself and/or another party. He usually just gets a verbal scolding that goes something like this.

Dog! (his name is Hercules, but I like to refer to him impersonally as “Dog”) Yelp all you want! I don’t feel sorry for you because its your own fault! Stay out of my way! Why do you do this all the time!? Don’t you realize that you’re really going to hurt me, or yourself, one of these times!? Why are you so stupid!?

At the end of this one-sided exchange I sometimes explain how we’re really buddies and I just don’t want him to get hurt, nor do I want him to hurt somebody else. He might get a pat on the head indicating all is forgiven. Sometimes I’m upset and I don’t give him the gentle lecture, or the pat on the head, because I figure I’m getting back at him somehow by shunning him; like his intelligence is sophisticated enough to understand the insult I’m trying to impart upon him by withholding my affection.

Here’s the thing though. The times I pat him on the head are usually preceded by a thought that follows the question I ask him regarding the quality of his intellect. It briefly causes me to evaluate the quality of my own intellect. How often do I say something or do something that might hurt myself or somebody else? How many times have just my own wife and kids given me a pass on the same sort of chronic offenses? Shouldn’t I be exponentially more in control of myself than this stupid dog? Even more so, in the context of my own worldview, how much more appropriate would it be for a just God to impart a divine justice upon me? As long as I accept the free pass offered to me, this bizarre being withholds justice though. I always get the gentle lecture and the pat on the head. I hope he doesn’t notice this exchange with the dog and change his mind.

Every once in a while this thought passes through my mind and the dog gets his pat on the head. It’s too bad the intelligence gap between the dog and me isn’t as big as I’d like to think, otherwise he’d get his gentle correction and forgiving pat on the head every time.

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3 thoughts on “Dog Barf

  1. I think you missed it. Dogs aren’t stupid (except relative to most humans) they are just selfish. Everyone thinks my dog is really smart (and compared to most dogs she is!) and loving, but really she is selfish to the core and only does what she does to get her way. To follow your model, watching my selfish dog squirm into unsuspecting laps or get scratched or fed reminds me of, well, me. If i’m honest I too am selfish to the core (Don’t tell my dog. She thinks I’m God). The only difference between me and the dog is that I’ve learned to do it a bit more stealthy. Come to think of it my dog is pretty stealthy too. Very few people realize her real selfish motives. Hmm. Perhaps my dog is even smarter than I think.

    • Cy – Thanks for the comment! I think the point I’m making here still stands. It is the intelligence gap between he and I that I’m referring to as the dog’s “stupidity”. Clearly the ant is not stupid, but only in relation to the worm.

      To say the dog is “selfish” seems to impart moral qualities to it. In reality the dog is just following its instinct. We wouldn’t fault an animal for this. In fact, we’d typically blame the dog’s owner for its poor behavior. People, however, seem to be different. We seem to have those same instincts to do whatever we want, yet we also have the ability to recognize those instincts ought not be followed in a lot of cases. Doing so anyway is what ascribes the moral property of “selfishness” to the behavior, and thus renders it as worthy of justice.

      Further, I wouldn’t be inclined to say your dog thinks you’re God, as I don’t think your dog is aware of any such concepts. He just thinks you’re the alpha dog

  2. Yes your point still stands. I was just having fun. That being said, i think calling a dog “selfish” is an apt description. It may in fact be instinctual as you say but selfish describes them to the T. The reason Hercules gets under foot in the kitchen is because his he isn’t thinking of you, he is thinking only of himself. You might respond by saying, in that situation he is incapable of thinking of anyone else, and i wouldn’t argue. No moral failing on the dogs part. And I agree that we humans have many of the same instincts or what I would call manifestations of our selfish and morally corrupt nature. And yes unlike a dog we have the moral ability to over ride those natural yet socially unacceptable responses. By the way, it was you who first imparted a “moral quality” to your dog by saying he was “unable to resist temptation”. I see now that wasn’t your point, it was only to describe his actions from a human perspective. And last and along that line, i certainly agree that my dog is not likely aware of God or other spiritual beings. I was being a little anthropomorphic (like you) there. After all the dog looks to me for all the creature comforts of life and so prays, err begs, when she doesn’t get them. Thanks for the discussion.

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