Friday, July 24, 2009

Free yourself: Be a puppy

The puppy to whom I introduced you briefly a couple of months ago has three times the mass she did on that day, and all of this mass is in her legs. She is a 25-pound bundle of energy on her way to the 70-ish pounds of a typical golden retriever.

Dogs are intelligent creatures, and they can teach us some things about living with limits on freedom. Most of all, especially as pups, they live to test their limits.

She will run at breakneck speed as far as she can across the yard until Sweetie or I calls her name. This is how she learns it is that far, and no farther, before the property line is breached. A cat would not stop at that line: That is why the cats stay indoors 24/7, but we have given the dog the freedom to explore the property with us. (Gotta admire the cats' attitude, though.)

Much is made of dogs' desire to please their masters, but I detect a mischievous streak. All of the sitting and staying and coming when she's called seems to have a purpose — to win back more freedom, to expand the territory she can explore when she's not required to sit or stay or come. In the end, then, the ultimate goal is not to please me but to secure as much liberty as she can.

Of course, keeping me pleased also preserves her regular supply of that tasty and nourishing alternative to munching grass and sticks — I'm her main food source. But the default setting on her soul is freedom — just as it is with humans and every other creature.

Some consider the goal is to "break her spirit." Oh, no. What joy does a being possess or offer whose free spirit has been broken down and suppressed? Better that we reach an agreement where we respect each other's property ("Don't chew that, girl!") and follow our own needs and desires, cooperating when they intersect.

So while I am teaching her to sit and stay and come, she is teaching me something about living as free as possible in an unfree environment: Be a puppy. I pant with giddiness.



Anonymous lewlew said...

If his cheeks were pinchable I'd love to give them a soft squeeze. He's ADORABLE!

Cheers to pup-ish living.

1:46 AM  
Anonymous sunni said...

A refreshing—and to my mind much needed—re-examination of the relationships cats and dogs have with their humans. Thanks yet again.

She is gorgeous ... I'm partial to retrievers and despite the busyness in my life these days, you've gotten me longing for a puppy, too.

1:09 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home