In my oldest and happiest dreams, there is a small house swallowed by a gluttonous porch on top of a hill carved like bundt cake. And I'm with a dog.
Those are the consistent elements. Sometimes I'm reading or writing or napping, sometimes I'm laughing. Sometimes there is a man, sometimes we're in love, sometimes there are children, sometimes there's a pony. But there is always a house on a hill with a porch and a dog.
Sometimes it's small and whiskered. Not too small. Maybe more...medium? Knee-high, or a bit taller. A proper mongrel, not a barking rabbit masquerading as a "Pomeranian" or a "Pekingese." Those little monsters are cute and everything, and I will hug them and giggle and say embarrassing things like "why are you the cutest little cuddles? Yes you are. Yes you are! What's that squeaky noise? WHUSSA BUBBA DUBBA SKWEEKY NOSE? Bestest widdow skweeky sounds. You. Yeah, you do. That's right." And then I'll turn to the dog's owner and say, "Oh my stars, your dog is fucking adorable."
And I would mean it. But not the dog for me.
If I have a dog, it's going to be a tangley mess of everything, probably with too much fur or scruff, probably with spots or stripes or patches, and probably way too smart for its own good. Most likely this dog will not be the biggest looker, although I'm sure I'll think it's gorgeous. Not like...the kind of smart where people say, "omg, my dog/child/boyfriend/wife is soooo smart" but they're using that word because they have never met a dog or a child or a person who actually IS smart. I'm talking enigmatically brilliant, loyal, and wonderful.
We attribute human emotions to dogs as if they are human, but we really have no way of knowing how similar the emotions actually are - relief, despair, joy, agitation. I don't even pretend that my best friends, or my family can feel the way I'm feeling sometimes since emotions aren't cut and dry, but when I'm with my dog (more accurately my parents' dog) it's as if he hurts when I hurt, that he's happy when I'm happy.
|Maybe not a mongrel, but Rusty is rad.|
God created man in his image. Or is it the other way around? Humans created gods in their image. Sometimes with too many arms (or do we have too few?) and sometimes with animal characterizations, because humans tend to associate certain behaviors and virtues with different species. Athena has an owl for wisdom. Ganesha has an elephant head for strength and fertility (and because Shiva cut it the other one off). Ravens are vocal and opportunistic little bastards, so Odin has two for Thought and Memory. Bast is symbolized by a cat as a protector of the weak, for motherhood and grace.
Dogs, however, are guardians or helpers, but rarely (and as far as I know off the top of my head, never) the manifestations or companions of a specific god. Wolves and jackals, coyotes...those are gods. But not the dog.
In Zoroastrianism, dogs are not gods, but sacred in their own right. A dog's gaze purifies the soul. Murdering a dog is a crime punished by eternal damnation. Dogs are granted funeral rites and puppies are precious.
The point is this: we didn't create dogs, but we assign them our image, like gods. Dog = god backwards, duh. It's a non-but-way-awesomer-and-better-than-usual palindrome. Dogs are anthropomorph-ized (is that a legit derivation? yes.) the world over. Some people beat them and some people eat them, and some people force them to fight to the death for sport, but societies across the world have partnered with dogs for as long as...like...forever.
But they are still dogs. They're coworkers and friends. They're our counterpart. We assume they feel a range of emotions comparable to humans because we want them to. We study and write books on the language of dogs, we train them to value what we value, we breed them to value what we value. We genetically control their behavior and physical traits, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the tragically worst.
At the same time, the idioms associated with "dog" are rude and terrible. Sick as a dog. Underdog. Dog-eat-dog. Go to the dogs. Work like a dog. Dogs of war. Put your woman on a leash. Get that kid a muzzle. Bitch.
I don't like any of that. We should stop that. As humans we deserve better. Dogs deserve better.
I'm no expert, and I might have gotten some of this wrong. I'm just writing what I know. Maybe this isn't a proper love letter to dogs, or about dogs, because I'm not describing all of the wonderful things about them. I don't really NEED to do that. That's what Buzzfeed is for.
I guess what I'm saying is: hey, dogs! I love you because no matter what we belong to each other. You are the best. You do everything like you mean it, and like you mean it just a little bit more than your human counterparts. You're us. Cubed. Dogs are love.