Humans are cursed. We have these amazing, complex brains. And we can’t rely on them to tell us the truth.
Dogs, on the other paw, while very intelligent, rely more on their senses than we do. And they are rarely led astray.
Maybe the most important thing we can learn from dogs is how not to think.
Dog and Human on a Snowy Day
I get up from bed and immediately look out the window. It’s snowing. Oh, crud. Now I’m going to have to drag my groceries home in my cart over the sidewalks my neighbors refuse to shovel.
Honey gets up from bed too. She’s hungry. Time to eat.
I open the back door to let Honey relieve herself outdoors. Are my neighbors up yet? Will they see me out on the porch in my pajamas and bathrobe? And if they do, will they care? Do I care?
At the bottom of the steps, Honey does a little spin. Snow makes her happy.
Her feet slip on the ice hiding under the new snow. She corrects her gait and goes looking for just the right spot.
I’m thinking about the rest of my day. What people think of me. My mood.
Honey is present in her body feeling what she feels.
Is Thinking Bad
If the human brain never advanced to its present state, we wouldn’t have Galileo, Kierkegaard, or Chinua Achebe.
And let’s face it. A world run by dogs wouldn’t have art, music, or poetry. Or at least, good poetry. After all, everything rhymes with woof.
But the human brain plays mischief on us too.
We freak out when an airplane goes down while thinking nothing about getting behind the wheel of a car, the most dangerous thing most people ever do.
When a friend doesn’t answer our call, we make up stories: she hates us, she’s spending time with someone she likes more, we offended her. Instead of considering the simplest explanation: she’s just busy.
Our brains trick us all the time. Mentally ill people have to protect themselves against a brain that might actually try to kill them. I’ve often thought schizophrenia must be like fighting a steel cage death match with your own brain.
Maybe the answer is not to despise our brains. But to learn how to put them in their places. And we can do that by imitating our dogs.
When Dogs Don’t Think
Dogs do think. Quite a bit. They can solve problems. Manipulate us into giving them what they want. Trick each other.
But dogs spend the greatest part of their day feeling. And being present in the moment.
When they’re tired, they sleep. When they’re hungry, they eat (or try to get us to feed them). When they feel good, they wag.
They don’t doubt that what they’re feeling is the right thing to feel. They don’t look forward to wonder how they’re going to feel later. And they don’t judge us for not being better than we are.
Maybe the way we become better humans is by trying to be more like dogs. Stop chasing our brains through the tricky obstacle course it leaves for us. And spend more time being. Just being.
Best City for Pet Travelers
My beloved Cape May, New Jersey was knocked out of the running by Key West, Florida. I guess other pet travelers disagree that we have too many Jimmy Buffett wannabes already. Sigh.
Thank you to everyone who supported our favorite beach town.
But the battle goes on to find the Best City for Pet Travelers.
Two lovely Canadian cities are making a grand showing against the dominance of American beach towns. I’m throwing my support behind Vancouver and Edmonton. At least until the two of them face each other in a future round.
So head over now and vote for your favorite cities for pet travelers.