This year, we’ve vowed to have weekly date nights at home. They’re essentially planned episodes of over-indulgence: we eat less-than-healthy food, drink wine, watch Netflix, vow not to do anything work-related, etc. All the other week nights are usually spent eating super clean, drinking water and working on business. So we really look forward to date night.
We all seek pleasure. And we humans are lucky enough to have complete control over our access to the things that we enjoy. At our last date night, I looked across the table and watched Kevin eating pizza, talking about how delicious it was and taking a sip of wine. Dexter was in the living room watching some mindless YouTube channel that we’d conceded to allow so we could have 30 minutes of peace.
Then I looked down at our dogs, Rosa and V.
They were both in down-stays, studying our every move. Dreaming with all their might that the next time I lifted my hand, it would be to give them a tiny scrap of food. That little shred of pleasure, that we humans might be willing to share.
I thought of how the rest of the night would play out — we’d probably find ourselves laying on a comfy couch, drinking more wine, watching Netflix, and maybe even scrolling through Instagram — all at the same time. Pleasure stacking.
And our dogs, ever the optimists, would remain hopeful that, at some point, we’d wield our pleasure power in their favor. I thought about how upset some owners get about their dogs “begging.” How dare they sit there politely, controlling their impulses (against their nature, mind you), fantasizing about the prospect that we’ll share a speck of our over-abundant, over-indulgent, overly-accessible sources of pleasure with them?
Really think about that.
A better question is how dare we.
How dare we exploit the power we wield over them by not only refusing to share the things that we enjoy with them, but by being pissed that they’re hopeful that we will?
So the next time your dog wants something you have, why not give it to him? In fact, why not give him multiple things that he enjoys, all at the same time. And not because he’s so virtuous, or because he’s doing a behavior you like, or because you weren’t going to finish that broccoli any way.
Because he’s into pleasure, just like you. But you’re the only one who can dole it out.