My dog Gram Parsons hates being outside. He always wants to be inside with us, lying on rugs, looking out the front windows or watching TV, especially when football is on. And he always, always sleeps inside.
I have a few farmer friends to whom the idea of a dog in a house is abhorrent. Their dogs possess fine quarters — kennels and sheds — and are well looked after but they remain out with the rest of the animals.
But, I have many townie friends who allow their dogs to sleep in their bed with them and wash them in the bath (hopefully not with them in it).
Most dogs get inside. When people initially get a dog, they maintain that it will sleep outside. This rarely happens. The owner’s heart melts when looking at their little puppy gaping in the window with a look that has evolved over centuries to get what it wants. It is a mixture of desperate pleading and unconditional love.
Who can leave a leave a puppy outdoors when she has just been separated from her mother and siblings? Not many. Inside she gets and forever she stays inside.
How has the dog managed this? Would you allow a sheep to wander around your kitchen? Or a pig to sleep on your couch? Or allow a calf to clamber into the shotgun seat of your car and stick her head out the window taking in the streets? No, of course you would not. Your cat just about manages it. But the cat will go places where you do not. The cat will disappear into the night and kill things. Not your dog, she is going wherever you are are going. Forever and ever.
True, the sheep might pooh inside, but why don’t you try to toilet train it? Yes, the pig stinks but why aren’t there any pig groomers? And the calf would look ridiculous riding shotgun, but originally did not the 150 pound obese Old English Sheepdog licking the windscreen look equally ridiculous?
How did this happen? How did the dog become practically human?
The dog was able to adapt a dual identity. Most people will admit, indeed love to admit, that their dog is half human. But perhaps they are not so ready to concede that they are half wolf too. One of the reasons that the grey wolf became the best candidate for domestication was its ability to form social bonds with humans. Grey wolves can socially interact with humans but their sexual preference is (mostly) still it’s own kind. And they are able to breed in man made environments which not all canids can.
Their offspring were easier to tame. They were used to an alien species, humans, from the start. And became less interested in forming relationships with other wolves.
If your dog is anything like my dog, he doesn’t care that much for other dogs, he’d much rather hang with humans. Of course, he gets excited when he meets another dog, but I don’t ever see him hooking up with them for walks or heading with them to their houses. No, he much rathers climbing into the front seat of our car and feeling the breeze in his face as we go to get beer and popcorn for the big match.
The fact they never stop wanting to knock around with their owners, may be a result of their arrested development. Everyone knows that a dog year is equal to seven human years. But did you know that this is derived from a register of emotional maturity?
So, when your dog is 21, he is still acting like a 3 year old — rolling around in muck, crying when hungry and wrecking your furniture.
When your dog is 70, he is acting like a 10 year old — eating everything, being uncontrollable and bossing you.
I’m not kidding, dogs are one of the few animals who play into adulthood. They certainly are the only animal that I am aware of that will catch a tennis ball for eternity.
Perhaps the greatest trick that our dear mutt ever pulled, is that the majority of dogs no longer have to any work to do. There used to be a pay off. The little terrier would get fed generous portions but he would be expected to hunt the odd badger or rabbit. Can you see your little chap taking on a badger for his grub? I thought not.
You ain’t going to want to hear that the chow-chow was bred for eating, as in being ate. Don’t worry your chow chow has cleverly reversed this abhorrence, he now eats you, out of house and home.
Don’t blame your moggie. It is your fault. Wolf cubs knew that other wolves were their parents. When a puppy is born, it knows it’s mother is its mother But then your big head is constantly in the frame. So you become to them Big Daddy. Big Daddy doesn’t put you outside in the rain. Big Daddy doesn’t leave you outside.
Your dog has bonded closer to you than it has to any other dog. Even her own siblings. They can deal with them leaving, but not you, you ain’t going anywhere buddy. They need you more. They relate to you more. So, they want to be with you ALL OF THE TIME. If not, they will howl. They will bark. They will scratch the door. They will break down the door. They will toss your flowerpots. They will eat your thesis. The only copy. (I’m not bitter, I still took him out to the drive-thru that night).
From wolf to best buddy. It is a remarkable transformation. One that, I am sure you will agree that both owner and dog have benefitted immeasurably from. But will the dog stop there? Will he always be content with simply being just a best buddy? I am sure that is has been pointed out to you before, that dog spelt backwards is god?