I was walking my German Shepherd down the street yesterday and as we moved along we received the usual barrage taunts and arguments from the neighborhood dogs. My dog sometimes took notice, sometimes seemed to ignore, sometimes sniffed and peed. I, for the most part, tugged her along down the sidewalk.
I am proud of a phrase that I once coined, and which really deserves to be on a bumper sticker: I’d rather live in a world peopled by dogs, than dogged by people.
Humans are not so sophisticated simply because we are adept at making all our sound and fury seem so meaningful. To a large degree we are held captive by our history (societal and personal.) It is only where we consciously re-evaluate the information around us and then consciously adapt the way we live, that we step out of the mundane and reach into the sublime.
Farther down the street, seemingly out of nowhere, a car loaded with guys slowed beside us as it came to a stop sign. One in the passenger seat let out some expletive. “Asshole” or “Pussy” or “Faggot” or something like that.
Normally I would have responded outwardly with some act of defiance ranging from showing him my middle finger to pointing at my dick, along with some inward response: frustration, anger, fear. But instead I just looked at him. He looked back and then slowly be withdrew back into his seat.
Barking humans are nothing more than barking dogs for the most part. We encounter them with as much regularity. Think of the annoying, barking humans that you meet every day. They are set off by some kind of usually unexamined territorial drive. How do we respond when a dog barks at us? We usually don’t dignify it the way we do when a human barks at us. We don’t take it personally because it’s not personal; it’s animal.
We classify the dog into one or another category. Cute and non-threatening, annoying, possibly vicious, truly dangerous. Then we simply respond appropriately. We don’t come home at the end of the day a nervous wreck because some dog barked at us this morning, but our boss can have that effect. We are much better at letting it go because we don’t assign it the value we attach to our human altercations. But, I realized today that there’s very little difference.
Some people, myself included, actually make play out of the challenge of winning over a barking dog. With humans, we tend to take their attacks personally. I did, strangely, until my episode with the barking human in that car. Then, I had a moment’s clarity. What’s wrong, little doggie? Isn’t that the line from… Reservoir Dogs?!