Sure he was an evil, heartless b*st*rd. But he loved his dog. That must mean something.
Or does it?
What will we forgive if someone loves dogs?
Like most of my thinky, wordy posts, this one began with someone else’s writing. In Sigmund Freud’s Case of Puppy Love, Edie Jarolim explored Freud’s love of dogs later in his life.
A few commenters hinted that their thoughts of Freud were somewhat more positive for knowing he loved dogs. Which got me thinking: Is loving dogs really a sign that you’re a better person than someone who doesn’t like dogs? Are you more compassionate? Does your connection with another living creature make you a better human?
Or are humans so complex that we can do unspeakable evil while loving an animal?
Hitler loved dogs.
Americans have a short historical memory. If you’re in your twenties, live in the U.S., and watch political news, you may think Hitler was an evil person because he wanted everyone in Germany to have health insurance.
But in a century that also saw Pol Pot and Joseph Stalin exterminate millions, Adolph Hitler stands out for his remarkably orderly and purposeful attempt to kill every Jew, homosexual, Jehovah’s witness and others he deemed as threatening the purity of the “master race.”
And yet he adored dogs.
Dogs can only help us be better humans if we listen to them.
One of the things I like about dogs is that they are directed by their own self-interests just like people. It makes them complex. And figuring out what motivates a dog is one of the great joys of living with one.
But I don’t believe dogs are so complex that they are capable of being evil. That takes a level of denial and mental compartmentalization only available to humans.
So I definitely believe that we can be good in one aspect of our lives while being truly horrible in another.
But while I was thinking about this I realized something. Maybe the question isn’t how Hitler could love dogs so much while being ruthless, delusional, and wicked. Perhaps we need to ask not what Hitler thought of his dog. But what did Hitler’s dog think of him?
Once you see this video footage I found, I think you’ll know what I mean.
Hitler’s Dog Didn’t Like Him
The beautiful German Shepherd in the images and film footage was Blondi. By all accounts, Hitler adored her.
But what do you think Blondi thought of Hitler?
I don’t know about you but I saw a pretty unhappy dog.
I’ve seen dogs behave like Blondi. You probably have too. Sometimes they’re rescued dogs. Other times they’re fearful for other reasons.
How do you respond when you see a dog cower? If I know my readers, and I think I do, I’m going to guess you take a step back and try to figure out what’s going on.
You evaluate what’s making the dog scared. You slow down. You let the dog find a place of comfort.
You don’t keep pressing forward, petting and hugging a dog that just wants to go away.
As a dog lover, a real dog lover, you listen to the dog. You enter into an unspoken dialogue where the dog tells you what she needs and you listen and try to respond.
You may not always get the right answer. But the dog is not a possession or an object but a communicating being that you need to learn to understand.
And that’s how liking dogs can make you a good person.
It’s not liking dogs that makes us better human beings. It’s listening to them.