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Commentary — What I’ve Learned from Dogs

It was one of those nights last night when you're mind gets going and it occured to me that I've never really blogged about what...

Joy  |  Aug 6th 2006


What Dogs Teach Humans

It was one of those nights last night when you’re mind gets going and it occured to me that I’ve never really blogged about what I’ve learned from dogs, mine and others. So I’m going to start a short weekly (or so) post about that topic. It’s funny considering Haint, (the novel mentioned at the bottom on the right). The title character is Haint, named after a dog in my past. So you would think I would have done this sooner. But oh well…

Look at the REAL, not the illusion.

Dogs don’t have the greatest vision (nothing like ours and definitely not as good as your average hawk). We depend so much on sight but they don’t. They can’t. They use their other senses and spirits to look past the illusion, the outside, the REAL underneath.

So what has that taught me? It’s taught me to look below the surface to what lies below. It could be another human, a dog, a situation, whatever, but dogs don’t glance at someone and say to themselves, “That person has on nice khaki pants and a nice watch. I can trust them to be a good person.” Nope, dogs look beneath all that to the person below the $50 pants and the $30 haircut. They know its all window-dressing. What they want to know is who is this person?

Maybe it takes closing my eyes and just listening to the person’s voice or watching how they interact with the rest of the world (yes, I know that’s a seeing thing but it’s actually looking for clues, not just a surface scan of appearances.). Maybe it’s listening for a laugh at the right time. Whatever it takes to push myself past the sight level, that’s what the dogs have taught me.

Let me give you an example. A long time ago when I was much younger, I dated a guy who seemed nice enough. Polite, fairly attractive and intelligent. Oh and he bore a passing resemblance to the actor who played the original Luke Skywalker, Mark Hamill. Like every other straight female of my generation, that was one of the hallmarks of good looking. Everybody liked this guy, except Sam.

Sam was an amazing Weimaraner who my mother had rescued, sort of. He had been an alpha with a human family of oh, omegas, and had started running their house. To shorten the story, my mother took him and their bond was such that I doubt she ever felt the same way about another dog.

Sam met this guy I’m telling you about and he never threatened him (that would not have been allowed) but Sam made a point of sitting between me and the guy every chance he got. Any time he could, Sam tried to let me know how he felt. And he was right!

Later, the guy proved to be a total cad and Sam proved to be a great judge of character. But he didn’t see it on the surface. He looked below to see the REAL person and didn’t like what he saw. And by learning from Sam and the other dogs in my life, I hope I’ve become better at that kind of SEEING.

Thank you Sam!

Next week, another lesson I’ve learned from dogs.