Thursday, April 9, 2015
An Open Letter to My Dogs
I know C and I gave you names of nobility and knighthood, even if you do plop down onto our laps and proceed to vigorously clean your genitals as we're trying to share a drink. You are nothing if not noble-looking, though, as you stand perched on our furniture or at the door, muscles tensed and barking instincts ready should an unwelcome intruder (like, say, the UPS deliveryperson or the garbagepeople) dare to grace our stoop with their clearly unwanted presence.
And I haven't even gotten to how you'll eat anything, even if it makes you violently ill, and then happily try to go back for seconds as though you have completely forgotten the experience of emptying your stomach contents onto our kitchen floor.
You're kind of dumb, pooches. I love you dearly, and you have stolen my heart completely, but you're a few kibbles short of a full dinner bowl, if you catch my drift.
Yet you manage to be pretty smart, too. You've gotten me to give you treats for only partly doing when I'm trying to train you to do, be it to sit or to come when called. You've outsmarted one another in the quest for bones, chews, and tummy rubs. And you clearly have the mental and emotional strength to return to happiness and joy in life after what was clearly a traumatizing sojourn for the both of you as strays before being rescued by your shelter.
And that is what I admire the most about you--not how affectionate you are (although I love that about you), or how devoted you are to keeping your butts clean (although I am amused by that too). It's that you clearly have an appetite for life and for loving people even after being left out in the world to die by people who should have done better by you.
Here's a confession to you, though, on behalf of humanity: we didn't just do it to you, or to other dogs...lots of other dogs, in fact. In truth, we do it to one another as well. We do it to ourselves. We hang each other out to dry, we leave them to live off the crumbs of our table, we leave them homeless and exposed to the elements without any of the sort of empathy that both of you doofus-y dogs are clearly capable of showing.
The image of the two of you being forced into living as strays makes my insides churn out of grief, but the knowledge that we force other people to live and die that way too makes my insides churn out of anger.
Maybe it is because you're literally colorblind, but you don't see color in other people. You don't care that I'm Armenian, or that C is a ginger (ew), or that we have neighbors who are African-American, Asian-American, Latino/a, or gay or lesbian. All you care about is if they will give you treats and head scratches.
And, admittedly, that is something we have to work on with you furballs, that idea that everyone in your world exists to give you gifts. But it's still probably better mentality than the one we have constructed for ourselves in which we judge others and deny them services and treat them with higher degrees of suspicion because of their race or sexual orientation.
When you guys display aggression, there's a reason for it. But when we display it towards others--sometimes in ways that kill them in cold blood--honestly, it is so effing senseless. There's just no reason why so many of our black men have to die at the hands of our cops or our gay and lesbian brethren have to be discriminated against at the hands of our Christians. But we do it anyways.
I don't know when all of that will change for us. We've been changing it over time, but in terms of dog years, we're talking about an awful lot of calendars you'd have to flip through. You may not be around to see a changed humanity.
Really, I may well not, either. I want to be, really, really badly. But it might be too long coming.
I hope it isn't, though. Because us humans could stand to be a little bit more like you. Not the chewing through the wires of my massage-cushion-that-was-a-gift-part, but the other part, the part where what you deem to be a threat to you is based on your own physical safety and not on what the person looks like or who the person loves.
I mean, aside from people who try to bathe you. We all know they represent the greatest threat to you and all that you hold dear.
Your human, Eric
(Sir Henry Wiggly is a Jack Russell terrier/chihuahua mix who enjoys begging for table scraps, eviscerating the stuffing out of his toys, and hiding bones. Dame Frida Koala is a poodle/Shih Tzu mix who enjoys stealing Henry's bones, receiving long and extravagant tummy rubs, and chewing on her humans' socks. They are the best dogs in the world. Except for Rowlf from the Muppets, because of his kickass piano playing.)