It has been years since I last graced this blog with a post, and I’ve received a host of inquiries about this leave of absence. One curious young lady asked, “Did you die?” Yes, I did. But I’m back to tell you about it. (OK, Mom and Dad have advised me that sarcasm doesn’t become me, but who cares?) Actually, I took a long sabbatical to advance my study of human behavior (or more accurately, misbehavior). I consider myself to have a relatively good sense of humor. That’s a prerequisite to living with my buffoons, er I mean Mom and Dad. But my findings on humans are sufficiently distressing to take the ‘fun’ out of ‘funny’, leaving me only with ‘ny’ which is meaningless, albeit succinct.
I just returned from Iowa, where I observed what is known as caucus. I would have preferred going to Arizona to observe what is known as cactus. Cactus are less injurious than the slings, arrows, barbs and jabs produced by political candidates. I heard personal attacks from everyone, aimed at everyone else on every conceivable issue, all designed to annihilate one candidate or another. it was like being backstage at the AKC Best in Show awards. I was so exhausted this morning, I took three naps instead of my usual two. It was a good lesson in American politics, and a better one in doing what’s expedient to achieve a goal. Lies, exaggerations, aberrant conduct, unimaginable butchering of the english language, blatant insults – I used all of them just to get an upgraded room at my Iowa kennel. But my point is that humans will do and say just about anything if they want something badly enough. They like to believe they are selfless, kind, altruistic and compassionate. But give them an opportunity to win an election (or even a caucus), to advance their position in a line of traffic, to beat someone to a bargain, or to make a rival look ridiculous, and the halo quickly disintegrates. Dogs are so much better.
Having said that, I must be fair. I have also studied other areas of human conduct. I have observed bravery in the face of almost certain death, good deeds where no reciprocation was anticipated, and empathy when turning away would have been easier. I saw firemen rescue a dog who was sinking through cracked ice on a lake, I saw a lady pull an unconscious person from a burning car, and I saw a 12-year old return money to a grocery store clerk after he gave her too much change. These people were heeding their “better angels” and they tend to have a more lasting impact on me than those less noble. And yet, dogs are so much better.
I’m going on 14 years of age…that’s about 350 of your years, according to Stephen Hawking (who is the world’s best theoretical physicist, but lousy with human-dog year conversions). With age has come some degree of wisdom to supplement my vast store of knowledge and experience. I have come to value the attributes that humans sometimes demonstrate. I have been fortunate to be able to impart many of these attributes to Mom and Dad..attributes like honesty, dependability, compassion and humility. Especially humility. And they have done relatively well. And yet, as a dog, I am so much better.