Good for the Dog is Good Enough For Me

dog and person tug of war

The never ending battle.

It’s a War Out There

It’s Me or the Dog.

We can’t both be right.

Survival of the fittest.

And, of course, it’s a dog eat dog world.

I could go on. English is steeped in competitive talk. There are winners and losers.

But what if that’s wrong? Can everyone win? Or will someone always have to lose to someone else’s interests?

And why are you reading this in a dog blog?

Dogs Lose

Some of you have probably been accused of spoiling your dog. I know I have. And in a world where people plan dog weddings followed by a honeymoon in a luxury dog sex motel, Honey is by no means spoiled.

Someone might even have said to you, “So many people are suffering. Why do you work so hard to help dogs?”

As if it’s a competition. We either help people or we help animals. We can’t do both.

I don’t believe it’s one or the other. Not only do I believe we have enough to improve the lives of people and animals, I believe that much of what’s truly good for animals is also good for humans. And vice versa.

Unfortunately, humans spend so much time chasing the mediocre we no longer recognize the truly good. And, if someone threatens our grasp of the mediocre, we start to go a little nuts.

Don’t believe me? Google the phrase “no more twinkies” and see what you get.

Replacing the Puppiness Project

Last week I said goodbye to the feature I’ve been writing for two years: The Puppiness Project. I wrote 90 posts exploring my own neuroses and how I could be so much better a person if I would just be more like Honey, my Golden Retriever.

Ok, I’m neurotic.

Now I want to move forward. I want to live a good life, not just a life. And if the good life harms others, it’s probably not the good life I thought it was.

I’m starting out slow. I’m not going to tackle restoring natural habitats to prevent future devastation in New York and New Orleans. Or whether wolf packs and sheep herders can share the same ranges.

I’m going to keep looking for small examples that animals and people are meant to live together and that we can both win.

I’ll leave you with a little story.

Does a Puppy Belong in a Hurricane Clean Up?

Cute Husky Puppy

Obligatory husky cuteness.

My husband spent the weekend helping Staten Island families clean up after the flood. The needs are so great. And any crew of workers can only do a fraction of work that will be continuing for months.

Walking down a street, Mike saw a roly poly bundle of fur on the end of a leash. A closer look revealed a three-month old husky pup who was dying to meet him.

I know people who think caring for a dog is frivolous when so many people need help.

But I also know that my husband got a lift to his spirits to meet a happy pup, as I’m sure the other volunteers did.

And the puppy was getting great socialization. He was learning that people bring good things and that the world is a happy place. Which, in turn, will help him grow into a content, mature dog less likely to harass or bite people.

If You’re Still Reading

… then I hope you’re intrigued. And you’ll stop back each Monday to see the Puppiness Project transformed into a large life lesson:

Dogs live with humans because it benefits them. Humans live with dogs because it benefits us. 

Thousands of years of co-evolution bind us together. A spitty tennis ball or a little bit of weekend mischief makes it fun.

We Have a Winner

Jackie Bouchard won a copy of The Things You Find on the Appalachian Trail: A Memoir of Discovery, Endurance and a Lazy Dog. Congratulations, Jackie!

Okay, I know that goes against my philosophy of everyone winning.

But I hope you enjoyed meeting Kevin and Rufus in my review and that you’ll be inspired to spend time outdoors with your pup. Even if you don’t want to hike 2000 miles.

Do you think the welfare of humans is linked to the welfare of animals? Or do you think we’ll always have winners and losers and, until animals get opposable thumbs, humans will win?

photo credit: FábioMakesMistakes and TheGiantVermin via photopin cc

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  1. Good luck with your new project. I agree with you that helping animals also helps people and so forth. I also believe that we humans, maybe especially in the US, spend way too much time worrying about Twinkies and how many pair of $500 shoes can clog up anybody’s closet! As for opposable thumbs on animals…it’s unlikely that they could mess up the world any more than we have! LOL

  2. I am greatly intrigued and I do think that the “welfare of humans is linked to the welfare of animals”

    Animals are finally getting a stronger “voice”…there is much more that needs to be done, but this is a start

  3. I’ve never really understood the “it’s them or us” attitude myself. We are all connected. I have heard a number of people sniff in derision at the idea of giving money to animal-related causes, stating they’d prefer to give their money to people as they are more important. I’m not about to suggest the reverse but I also don’t understand why there isn’t room for both. We both live in this world and we both are just as in need.

    I look forward to seeing where to take this.

  4. I agree. We can all win. If we say someone is a winner, it means that someone else is a loser. Words matter.

  5. I agree that we can all win – but then I’m a big dog lover. I guess folks that aren’t dog lovers might think “Why put all that time/money into dogs.” But dogs bring so much joy to our lives. Also there are many ways that our lives overlap. Even giving to canine cancer research I feel helps humans ultimately – especially since we are often striken by the same diseases and doctors/vets often offer the same drugs/treatment options.

    Having said that “we all win” – I’m glad *I* won the Appalachian Trail book! Whoohoo. I think I will squirrel it away and give it to my hubs for a Christmas present. I’m sure he’ll love it! Thanks!!

    • Such a good point about canine cancer research. Do you mind if I add that to my idea file?

      Congrats on winning the book. I sent an email this morning asking for your mailing address. Can you send it to me at somethingwagging at gmail dot com?

      • Don’t know how I missed that email… I’ll send my address right over.

        Sure, yes, add away to the idea file. Having lost our cancer pup this past January, it’s an idea near and dear to my heart.

  6. Whatever form your new inspiration takes, I look forward to reading it. (As a side note, I hate the competitive snarking that takes place in the not-for-profit sector.)

  7. Can’t wait to read the new feature!

    I think that what benefits one group benefits the other whether it is human or animal. I feel there’s enough room for improvement in the world in so many areas that it shouldn’t matter as long as the world becomes a better place.

  8. I agree that we’ve evolved into mutually beneficial species, and I have to say that I’m glad for that. I love situations where everyone can come out the winner, even though I know that can’t always happen.

  9. I’m in with the “we both can win” crowd. We give to animals because that is what makes us happy. Others give to “human” causes because it’s what makes them happy. I do both and I’m happy. Win-win:)

  10. In an ideal world, we would all help each other, animals included. In the real world it all comes down to value. What something is worth to you or someone else, whether that mean monetarily or personally. And unfortunately that is something that will never die or fade out.

  11. What a wonderful post! I think it’s a message that could go a long way to resolving a lot of the problems that plague the human-animal dynamic to everyone’s benefit, without some of the destructive rhetoric from both sides of every issue. Thank you so much!

  12. Loved your ponderings today Pamela. I have also wondered why some people think that we all can’t do something for someone or something – dogs or people. Those who ask me why I am so passionate about helping dogs when people are suffering should ask themselves what they are doing to help those suffering people too.

    I think it’s human nature to be competitive, but I am a believer that all of us come to this earth with a talent (a gift) and we are meant to use them as they were given. For some, it’s working with and saving dogs or cats, for others it’s the homeless or the elderly. In the end though, I believe we are all linked – humans, animals, planet. How we treat one affects the other. I look forward to your new piece.

    God bless you for helping out in the hurricane struck areas. Did you run into Kim Clune by chance? She was helping to deliver supplies to Coney Island – her 2nd run.

  13. I am glad to see someone bring this up on a dog blog. I have been interested in exploring the real relationship between humans and dogs for several years now. I read everything I can get my hands on, from the science to the anecdotal. But having my own pack of 6 Dachshunds has given me the most insights, which I try to share through humorous stories about my life with them.

    There is a school of thought that dogs actually influenced human brain evolution. When first read this several years ago, it was a revelation to me and I began to secretly watch my dogs in the same way I found they were always watching me. When we put aside the admittedly fun part of dog ownership, which is anthropomorphizing them, and look at them as animals, like us, with their own interior lives, we come away awed by their ability to usually move gracefully between 2 worlds and, more than just survive, benefit both those worlds.

    It is at this point that we begin to learn what it means to be human. And I believe that this is the gift we receive from all animals, but especially those we live close to. To be human is to be a GOOD steward of the earth and it’s inhabitants. Not a taking steward, or a dominating steward, but a co-inhabitant contributing with our great brains what other inhabitants cannot. Animals teach us to respect and take joy in a natural world that we sometimes over-think in our natural tendency to the ever more complex. The keep us grounded. They teach us important lessons about how to behave. They take us back to the simple, the source, where we can rest and renew.

    So yes, I agree that we need to be conscious of the needs of both people and animals. But people come with different gifts to share…and whether it is shared with animals or humans, we all inhabit the same world, so it is all important work.

  14. I agree that it is not one or the other. In my mind, helping animals IS helping humans because animals help people – get out an exercise, be less stressed and generally improve our wellbeing. Sometimes getting people to help animals is the “gateway drug” to getting people to look a their own lives and help themselves. A simple example is your dog’s diet. Often when people start to research and pay attention to what their dog is eating they start to see the bad stuff they eat and clean up their own diets.

  15. First of all, I think if I choose to help animals that’s my business. And if others don’t like that, then let them get off their computers and go help some people. I am a person who makes a living in the helping profession, and I can tell you that helping people is messy work. It’s easy to complain about the efforts of another. It’s difficult to actually try to make a difference. And yet, I refuse to be deterred by the whiners. Let ’em whine sister. Follow your conscience!