Guest post by Alison Dormaar, Pegasus resident and author
Ever since moving away from the main hustle and bustle of the city, I’ve been noticing the local dogs more. It’s funny how much we take them for granted in our busy city lives, but the other week with several centimetres of snow piled up on the lawn outside, to watch them ecstatically lolloping around in the white stuff with apparent ease was a real pleasure, and it made me sit back and think.
Dogs make me happy. I like to think I could make them happy. There are many life lessons we can learn from dogs, not least of which is the gift of sheer enjoyment of the simple things such as a snowfall while we of the gens humana live in a constant state of self-dissatisfaction. It is said that we have made dogs honorary humans, and I strongly suspect it is because we see many aspects of dogs that we wish were more apparent in our own somewhat flawed character.
Who among us would not want the life of a dog? Seriously? Most pet dogs in our society live in warm, comfortable homes without worrying about footing the mortgage or the power bill. Unlike the forever starved masses in the Third World (sorry folks, Africa is a bottomless pit of often misappropriated aid), dogs are guaranteed at least one square meal a day and they have learned that if you give the right wistful look at their owners at the right time they can capitalize with tasty snacks in between. You have willing servants on hand to plump up your pillows, buff up your beanbags, walk you, bathe you, brush you and rush about the house fulfilling your every whim without you having to raise a paw. Balls, frisbees, sticks and squeaky toys are laid on for your entertainment while your personal chauffeur whisks you away on numerous trips in the country, windows preferably rolled down. No-one is nagging you to tidy the house, mow the lawns, cook the dinner or go to work, and what’s more everyone you know likes you. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone if you’re a dog. You just have to be…well, a dog!
We humans tend to age not very gracefully. After a certain age we become victims of gravity. Everything on our body starts to sag south and we start to shrivel up and stoop, unsightly blotches appear where we never had them before and the key subject of conversation at social functions is the latest round of medical procedures. We slather ourselves with potions and lotions to restore some semblance of health and youthful looks and ingest other substances to improve our memory and keep ourselves regular.
Compare that with your dog. Okay, Blondie may be getting fat with age, but somehow it just makes her all the more lovable. She may have a few gray hairs around the muzzle, but that thick furry coat remains the same and those liver spots are marks of distinction rather than blemishes. When she trots out for her daily walk she is still the subject of smiles and admiration (how many aging people yearn for a return to that kind of attention!) Yup, in old age your dog remains respected and loved. No old age home for Blondie, no being shut up in a pastel painted dormitory with drooling open mouthed zombies staring mindlessly at television sets while their life savings trickle into someone else’s bank account. Unlike many elderly humans, your dog is guaranteed constant support and does not have to wait until weekends for a possible family visit. And at the end of your life, unlike humans who are often forcibly kept alive by all manner of nauseating drugs and machines in the supposed name of humanity (or is it medical research? No, maybe the retirement home is still owed the balance of the remaining quarter), your dog if need be is allowed to slip away peacefully and painlessly to avoid unnecessary suffering.
If only we treated each other the same way that we treat our family dogs…