HUMANS ARE FROM EARTH – DOGS ARE FROM . . .
Most of us have heard of the book “Men are from Mars, women are from Venus”, written by relationship specialist Dr. John Gray. This book addresses the differences (and similarities) between men and women, in everything from their communication styles and personality traits to their choice of pastimes. The book stresses ways that each gender can better understand where the other is coming from and what each can learn from the other.
I was thinking the other day about how this concept can relate to our relationships with our canine companions. After all, we spend just as much (if not more) time with our dogs as we do with our human companions. Wouldn’t it be interesting to consider human/canine interactions from the perspective of interspecies (interplanetary?) communication and also to consider what we can learn from each other?
With this in mind, let’s consider that if “Humans are from Earth . . . Dogs are from . . . Where? Well, if I had my guess, and had to assign a planet from which speaks the doggie perspective, I would say it would be the previously unknown (by humans, anyway) planet called ‘Biscuit’. Consider that Planet Biscuit is a place where everyone lives for the moment, just loves to walk everywhere, even to work, and where work consists of throwing (or catching) a ball all day, with lunch – LOTS of lunch – the only interruption to the workday. Additionally, on Planet Biscuit, greetings generally involve a good butt sniff, everyone is honest and loyal and biscuits and other treats are plentiful – maybe they even grow on bushes . . . right at doggie height, of course!
Edward Hoagland once said that, “In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely try to train him to be semi human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog.”
I think he is right. It would behoove us humans to spend some time considering things from the Planet Biscuit perspective. We could learn a lot – not just about our canine companions, but also about ourselves. I also think that there are some things that dogs could learn from Planet Human – if they really want to, that is!
Having said all of the above, let’s consider some common life issues from both perspectives.
- HUMANS – We generally greet each other face to face, usually with a verbal phrase, accompanied by a firm handshake. Humans will say ‘It’s nice to meet you’ or ‘It’s good to see you again’ . . . even if it isn’t!
- DOGS – Dogs usually greet each other face to butt, sometimes accompanied by a hello bark and much tail wagging. If a dog doesn’t like another dog (or human), he will say so – he won’t mess around with being polite for form’s sake. You always know where you stand with a dog.
- PAWS UP – Things might go smoother if dogs could learn to dissemble a little when meeting dogs or humans they don’t like. Also learning that humans prefer an ‘up front’ approach to greeting, rather than a butt sniff, would be beneficial!
- QUOTE – “If your dog doesn’t like someone you probably shouldn’t either.” ~ Unknown
- HUMANS – Some humans ‘eat to live’ while others ‘live to eat’. On whichever side of the equation a human falls, there tends to be a complicated relationship with food. What should I eat? How much? When? Guilt is often involved.
- DOGS – No question, most dogs ‘live to eat’. It’s simple, if the opportunity arises and food is on offer, whether a treat, a biscuit, or anything even remotely edible, they will eat it – all of it, right now! Enjoyment is the name of the game – no guilt involved!
- HANDS DOWN & PAWS UP – Humans could learn to take more joy from eating, rather than always being caught up in whether we should be eating something, or how much, etc. Dogs could learn that not everything that CAN be eaten SHOULD be eaten, and that eating isn’t a timed sport.
- QUOTE – “If you think dogs can’t count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then giving Fido only two of them.” ~ Phil Pastoret
- HUMANS – All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Most of us are so caught up in the everyday grind that we forget to take time out to ‘smell the roses’ or, in this case, ‘catch the ball’.
- DOGS – Dogs tend to make playtime a priority. They are always up for a game of fetch or tug. The concept of not having time to play is foreign to them. Play time for a dog is for getting out all that pent-up energy and for relieving stress. Also, dogs aren’t ‘play prejudiced’: they will play with each other or with humans or even themselves, if no one else is interested, but they will always find time for play.
- HANDS DOWN – Humans could learn to take a page from Planet Biscuit playbook on this one. Remember the saying: “You will make time for the things that are important to you.”
- QUOTE – “I think we are drawn to dogs because they are the uninhibited creatures we might be if we weren’t certain we knew better.” ~ George Bird Evans, “Troubles with Bird Dogs”
- HUMANS – Hearing is one thing, listening is another. We all tend to hear what others say, but do we truly listen? Do we take to heart the words spoken? Do we take action on them?
- DOGS – Dogs always listen. They take our words to heart. If the message requires immediate action on their part, they will generally take it (or an alternative action that they prefer over the action requested). If the message just requires a good listener, they are happy to perform that service, as well.
- HANDS DOWN & PAWS UP – Humans could learn to listen more and listen better. It would help us in our interactions with other humans . . . and with our canine companions! Dogs, for their part, could learn to REMEMBER what they listen to: that what their human tells them about expected behavior applies in all circumstances, at all times. For instance, the phrase “Couches are not to be chewed on, peed on or otherwise defaced” applies to ALL couches ALL the time, not just the particular couch they are involved with at a given moment in time . . .
- QUOTE – “You can say any fool thing to a dog, and the dog will give you this look that says, `My God, you’re RIGHT! I NEVER would’ve thought of that!'” ~ Dave Barry
- HUMANS – Most of us tend to have long memories for real or imagined wrongs. We often dwell on them and let them influence our feelings and reactions for days or weeks . . . and sometimes even longer!
- DOGS – Dogs tend to have short memories about wrongs. They don’t see the point in dwelling on them. ‘Once it’s over, it’s over’ is the best way to sum up the Planet Biscuit philosophy regarding forgiveness.
- HANDS DOWN – Humans would benefit from a more enlightened (and short term) approach to wrongs, whether real or imagined. Dwelling on a harsh word or an action taken or not taken by another often hurts you more than the human responsible for the wrong.
- QUOTE – “To err is human, to forgive, canine.” ~ Unknown
- HUMANS – There is never enough time to fit in all we want to do. We tend to obsess and stress over what we have to do and how much didn’t get done in the time we have allotted.
- DOGS – NOW is always the right time . . . for anything. Dogs don’t worry about what has or hasn’t gotten done; they live completely in the moment.
- HANDS DOWN – Humans would do well to take more of a Planet Biscuit approach to time management. Rather than worrying about the dishes, or the gardening, grab a ball or a leash and go spend time with your dog. Guaranteed, she will feel either is a GREAT use of time!
- QUOTE – “My dog is usually pleased with what I do, because she is not infected with the concept of what I ‘should’ be doing.” ~ Lonzo Idolswine
As you can see, both humans and dogs would benefit from spending a while in each other’s shoes . . . or paws! We each see the world from a unique perspective. There is much for humans to admire about the Planet Biscuit philosophy. There are also some things that dogs could learn from humans . . . such as “No, the TV remote won’t make a good nighttime snack and ‘NOW’ isn’t always going to work for me . . . but I’ll work on that!”
I will leave you with a final quote that about sums it up:
“I used to look at [my dog] Smokey and think, ‘If you were a little smarter you could tell me what you were thinking,’ and he’d look at me like he was saying, ‘If you were a little smarter, I wouldn’t have to.'” ~ Fred Jung Claus