Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Dog People

I'm not sure what it is that makes someone a dog person, but we all know the signs. We're drawn to them like moths to flames. Not just our own dogs, but all dogs. Ok, most dogs (for me, Mini-Cujo excepted). When I'm walking down the street and see interesting dogs trotting by or sticking their heads out car windows, I am mesmerized. I'm drawn to them. I want to meet them, greet them, scratch behind their ears. Most of the dog people in the neighborhood know each other's dogs better than they know each other. Every morning it's "Hi, how's Sparky today?" Not "Hi Dorothy, how are the children?"

Dogs have the most wonderful combination of wisdom and innocence. And I think the same is true for dog people. We have learned things about the world from our dogs. We've become more perceptive (I can't tell you how many rabbits and quail and lizards in the grass I would have missed had Baxter not pointed them out to me). We have connected with something more primal, more direct and infinitely more playful than ourselves. And, at the same time, I think we like to believe a lot of things about our dogs, some of which are true and some of which probably aren't.

I recently finished reading The Truth About Dogs by Stephen Budiansky. I found it to be a fascinating read because it challenged a lot of my assumptions about what's going on in my dog's head. The author's interesting perspectives on dogdom are based on some of the latest scientific discoveries, from archeology to animal intelligence studies, and he writes with wit and a respect that can only come from being a dog person himself. If you begin reading this book, I ask that you be patient. I initially bristled at some of the comments on why dogs do what they do (you mean it's not just because they're loyal?), but as I read on, I developed an even deeper appreciation for the amazing creature we share our lives with. I'll share more on this at another time, but if you have read the book, or are reading the book, I'd love to see your comments.

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