“We’ve Got to Live Together” – Sly Stone
*points tv remote at Zeke*
“Click! You’re not a dog anymore. You’re a giraffe.”
“You’re a giraffe now.”
“TALL GUY! WHY DID YOU DO THIS? I DON’T WANNA BE A GIRA…moooooooooo….OH NO! IT’S HAPPENING! WHY?”
“I like giraffes.”
“BUT YOU LOVE DOGS!”
“Yeah…I do…but a giraffe could grab the Frisbee when it goes on the roof.”
“I KNOW IT’S TALL, BUT YOU DON’T EVEN PLAY FRISB…..mooooooo…”
“I was thinking of trying it out. I probably won’t be that good at first. The Frisbee will probably go on the roof a lot.”
“I DON’T WANNA BE A GIRAFFE!”
“Click. You’re a dog again.”
“…oh my gosh…what a relief…Tall Guy, why did you do that?”
“You were a Chihuahua before, right?”
“¡¿QUÉ?! ¡Labrador amarillo! ¡Soy una Labrador amarillo, Chico Alto!”
§ § §
Once Zeke figured out that I was pranking him, he thought turning him into a giraffe was pretty funny. He has a great sense of humour, but he’s simpler in his own jokes. He’s gentle. Rated “G”. His favourite comedians are Bob Newhart and Ellen Degeneres. He doesn’t see any reason to curse or be angry or hurtful. That’s possibly his most endearing trait. In an age where outrage, offence, and digital aggression are so common, it’s nice to hang around with someone who just wants everything to be relaxed and fun.
I’ve been fortunate to have teamed up with several dogs in my life, and though I’ve loved them all equally, there’s an extra je ne sais quoi with Zeke. He and I are kindred spirits. We have the most effortless friendship I’ve ever experienced.
A significant part of our friendship revolves around humour. I think he’s hilarious, and I think he finds me funny too. How about that, huh? As humans, we often can’t get along with other humans simply because of where they were born or what colour they are, but we can easily get along with a completely different species.
Once you connect with a dog, your perspective changes. A dog teaches you that nothing’s really as important as the moment you are in. I’m envious that Zeke can so effortlessly live without concern for what has happened or what will happen, while I have to strive to live that way. It takes effort and thought for me, and that spoils the purity of it. As humans, we’re never going to be able to match a dog’s natural state, because we’re “way too smart”. Ironically, that “smartness” is what leads many of us down the path to misery.
I guess the old saying “ignorance is bliss” is truer than any of us would like to admit. Wouldn’t it be nice to just exist? To not hold grudges. To not wonder what fresh hell tomorrow will bring.
§ § §
“Tall Guy, can you get my toy that’s under the couch?”
“Sure….here’s your tennis ball.”
“No. The other toy under the couch.”
“No. The other one.”
“No. The other one.”
“How many dog toys can you shove under the couch?”
“How many toys do I have?”
“About ten, I guess.”
“So then…I can shove about ten toys under couch then, I guess…HA HA HA HA HA!”
§ § §
I doesn’t matter if I don’t think the joke is funny. What I laugh at is how funny Zeke thinks it is and what a good time he’s having. He’s played that “toys under the couch” prank on me more times than I can remember, and he always laughs as though it’s the first time he’s done it.
All friendships take time to bloom. We very quickly get a sense of whether or not we like a person, but the actual breadth and depth of the friendship takes some time to reveal itself. It can take years. However, for some reason that nobody seems to be able to explain, that process takes much less time between humans and dogs than it does between humans and humans. My opinion is that it’s because dogs are so honest and non-judgemental. They don’t insist on small talk or inane social niceties in the same way people do. I believe that a big part of the reason we like dogs so much is that we wish we could be more like them.
I find it astonishing that all we have in common with dogs is that we’re mammals. Being friends with a dog is, in the biological sense, no different than being friends with a bat or a kangaroo or a blue whale. And yet, in reality, it’s very different. Our relationship with dogs has evolved over the last 15,000 or 20,000 years to be so mutually beneficial that it could reasonably be described as being symbiotic.
Aside from whatever physical benefits we bestow on each other (food, protection, shelter, etc.), we also bestow true and deep friendship. Within a very short period of time, we bond with our dogs to the point where we’d do anything for each other. There’s no shortage of stories about people jumping into dangerous – even life-threatening – situations in order to save their dog. There’s also no shortage of stories about dogs doing the same for their humans. I’m not talking about trained avalanche dogs or guide dogs, I’m talking about family pets. Go to Youtube and search “dogs saving people” or vice-versa. It’s perhaps the purest form of friendship one can achieve. Uncluttered. Simple. But in no way unsophisticated.
We never disallow dogs entry into our country because “we have to take care of our own dogs first”. In fact, we actively encourage dogs to come here from bad situations in other countries so we can adopt them. Despite what many people say, we don’t have a shortage of money or food or any other resource. We simply have a distribution problem that’s compounded by a shortage of empathy and an excess of greed. Have you been to Costco lately? We have warehouses full of food and clothes and luxury items stacked 50 feet tall. “Taking care of our own” should be easy.
Dogs are different enough from humans in that they could almost be described as being aliens, but nobody calls them “illegals”. It’s an odd quirk of human nature that most of us will accept that a brown dog will eat its own barf and lick its own sheriff’s badge, but some of us get furious because a brown woman is wearing a scarf on her head. You’d think pigmentation would incite a standard reaction in people regardless of where and how it shows itself, but no. It’s ironic that a white person who doesn’t like brown people would own a black Lab or a German Shepherd. I wonder why white supremacists don’t all own Bichon Frise’s.
§ § §
“YAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYY! I LOVE THE PARK”
“I know. Super fun.”
“Hey look! Stan’s here!”
“Yeah…I’d rather you didn’t hang around with him when his man is here.”
“Why? I like Stan.”
“I like him too, but his man has said some stuff to me about my friend Alice that I don’t like. I just don’t want you to be around him.”
“Well…Alice does kind of smell like peanut butter.”
“She does, but that’s not what I’m talking about.”
“The guy is a racist, Zeke.”
“A raceist? I bet I could beat him. He only has two legs.”
“No…a racist. He doesn’t like some people because of what colour they are.”
“But…he’s here with Stan the black Lab.”
“I know. It’s hard to understand even for me. But he thinks he’s better than people like Alice just because of the colour of her skin.”
“That’s dumb. Maybe if we go over there and remind him that Stan is black?”
“You’ll never change his mind. I’ve tried, and I’m tired of listening to his silly reasons for not liking Alice. Let’s just keep our distance. You can play with Stan when his mum is here.”
“This is very confusing for me. Why can’t he HEY YOU THREW THE BALL I’M GONNA GO GET IT I’LL BE RIGHT BACK!”