“I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several weeks”.
The last few weeks have been terribly confusing for yours truly. We all know about the dreadful events which have taken place right around the world. Being quite the philosopher, I often wonder what the humans are doing to our planet. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before they either blow us all up or we all get fried to a crisp.
It’s hard being a bystander. I had hoped things would improve in the New Year but it’s only got worse. But what can I do? I’m only one dog. Yet, I am not any ordinary dog. I have magic powers. Well, that’s what I call being smart and finding solutions to age-old problems. That has to be a sort of magic.
Rewinding the clock, I considered what I could change in the New Year. As we all know, a new year is a clean slate and anything is possible. Of course, like all good dogs, I wanted to put my best paws forward. However, as I’ve had no luck with dieting and I’ve never smoked or taken drugs, I was stumped.
That was until Mum heard about this new idea of choosing a word to define your year. Mum’s word for 2015 is “love”. That sounded very inspirational but being my usual enthusiastic, over-achieving self, I decided to aim a little bit higher. Why settle for just one word when I could achieve so much more with these three words:
Change the World
I know you probably think that I’ve set myself the ultimate in impossible goals. However, quite frankly, it has to be easier than losing weight. These love handles of mine have definitely become permanent fixtures.
It was this quest to change the world which launched my journey into the perplexing field of philosophical research. From there, the Golden Rule certainly seemed to be the best way forward but further analysis confirmed that there is indeed an exception or challenge to every rule. For me, it was cats.
There was also the matter of my canine companion, Lady, who chews up my tennis balls without any consideration about my feelings at all!! This travesty posed yet another challenge to the Golden Rule. As I said, the Golden Rule works well when everybody follows it but when someone bucks the system, where’s the justice then?
Or, do we just hope karma intervenes?
Being somewhat jaded and disillusioned, I briefly turned to the dark side , investigating a different ideology: Do unto others as they would do unto you. While I could see that this approach could result in both good and bad outcomes, I thought it was all too easy to just start living for No. 1. That was definitely NOT where I wanted to end up. After all, while I’m not responsible for the actions of others, I do have to live with myself!
So it seems that my ideological journey went around in a great big circle and I was almost back to the beginning again. Back to the Golden Rule and trying to work out how I could be nice to cats.
Somehow, Odie pulled it off.
This was all well and good in theory but like all of my philosophical theories, difficult to put into practice.
To be nice to a cat, I actually had to get near a cat and even that was impossible. You might be surprised but I’ve never actually met a cat let alone tried to converse or conduct any type of meaningful dialogue with one. The closest I ever came to fraternising with a cat was when I bailed up that wretched thing, I mean, the nice cat from next door. I’d had that cat cornered until Dad suddenly appeared, grabbing me firmly by the collar, allowing my guest to escape before we’d been properly acquainted. Needless to say, she never came back.
Cats aren’t exactly innocent either.
Firstly, let me mention my friend Snoopy and his encounters with the savage cat next door to him. He is an extremely vicious cat who terrorizes Snoopy and Woodstock. Whenever Snoopy mocks the cat from across the yard, the cat slashes and Snoopy’s doghouse or sometimes, him. Charlie Brown usually ends up having to buy another doghouse, as a result.
Then there’s Garfield who constantly berates Odie.
I guess it’s probably due to heated moments like this that humans have decided to keep us separate: dogs here, cats over there. Even when I go to the vet, cats are inside, dogs outside. As I said, we live in divided worlds.
However, how is separation and ignorance building bridges between cats and dogs? Bridging the gap and trying to overcome our differences? It’s not.
The time has come to start bridging the gap uniting cats and dogs through love, understanding and forgiveness to create a better world. To achieve this, we at least need to interact and get to know each other better. After all:
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
The trouble is how do we break the ice and get the ball rolling?
All I do know is that if I want to change the world, it all begins with me. I have to be the change.
Back to the lab… A protocol is definitely required to improve relations between dogs and cats.
How to Become Friends with Cats
- I drew a picture of myself being nice to cats and stuck it up inside my kennel. Perhaps, if I could visualise being friends with cats, that could be a start.
- I keep repeating “I love cats” over and over and over again. I’ve even stuck a flag on top of my beloved kennel: “I love cats”. While I still make the occasional slip of the tongue, surely, it must sink in eventually.
- Feed your enemy. As everyone knows, the easiest way to the heart is through the stomach. I retrieved a dead fish from the beach and shoved it under the fence. I had thought about sharing my bones and even throwing my ball to the cat next door but I soon realised that cats don’t value either of these canine pursuits. This is what’s known as the Inverse Golden Rule “Treat others as they would like to be treated”.
- Find a dog who lives happily with a cat and request an introduction. After all, a dog just can’t approach any old cat and say hello. I’d be torn to shreds by their dreaded claws.
- Start small by taking very small steps. Cats and dogs have been fighting since forever. It’s going to take time for things to change:
“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step”- Lao Tzu
6. Learn from the past but make a new beginning.
7. Forgive.“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”Mark Twain
However, while I thought I was a real genius putting this protocol together and was expecting a Nobel Peace Prize for my efforts, a cat appeared in my backyard last night. I don’t know how much you know about dogs. Although we try to be good, we’re actually reactionary by nature. We act first and think later. So despite all my philosophical research and heartfelt desires to be nice, I failed. I still took off after that cat at full speed, barking with the same vicious growl that I usually reserve for the posty. Yet again, I’d fueled the war between cats and dogs despite my best intentions.
Back to the drawing board.
This time I decided to try social media. Suffering from creative block, it took awhile to get the creative juices flowing. However, inspired by Bruce, the Great White Shark in Finding Nemo. I developed my own hash tag:
“# Cats and Dogs are friends”.
Now, I just need to get the word out.
That means Mum has to learn how to twit or was that tweet? I can’t remember but I know it had something to do with those wretched feathered things that keep invading my backyard and tormenting me so much.
Well, she’s always telling me that an old dog can learn new tricks. Now, it’s her turn.
Wish me luck. As always, I need plenty!
For some reason, many humans arrogantly believe they are innately superior to dogs. That they have all the answers and there is nothing at all they could possibly learn from their best friend.
I beg to disagree.
If only humans could only interpret paw prints, they’d know that their canine counterparts also have a significant understanding of matters philosophical and psychological, although like so many of our canine achievements, they have gone unnoticed.
Perhaps, you’re already aware that I am quite the dog philosopher. My particular field of research is how to teach old humans new tricks.
Unfortunately, I’m not having much success.
Although you might think you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, this is all lies. Pure human propaganda!!
Dogs, both young and old, are more than willing to learn new tricks…just as long as we consider them worthwhile. Of course, there has to be a point… a sense of purpose. After all, we’re dogs…not robots!!
I’m sure you’d understand that once you’ve worked hard to reach that all-important 10,000 hours of practice and have finally become a champion, be that a champion ball chaser, stick fetcher or sheep herder, you don’t want to start all over again and lose all those precious skills. You see, whenever, you take on a new skill, there’s that very steep learning curve and you have to put in quite a lot of time and effort to reach the top of the hill. So, if you’re already dedicated to your chosen field, you might not have the capacity to take on something new and master that as well. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn new tricks. It’s a matter of choice. After all:
“Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
Although I’m not all dogs, I’ve been quite willing to try new things and extend my horizons.
In the last two years, I’ve gone from being your garden-variety backyard dog and stepped out into the world of extreme sports. I’ve been sailing, kayaking and hardest of all, I’ve even welcomed another dog into our household. Hence, I’ve had to share the things I value most with my uninvited “guest”: Mum, Dad, the kids and even my precious tennis ball.
To further stretch my patience and my heartstrings, Lady, the new dog in our family, still hasn’t worked out that tennis balls are for retrieving. Instead, she ignorantly runs off with them and parks herself on the grass where she chews them up and even pulls their fur out bit by bit. I might be patient but that’s a lot for The Ball Fetching Champion of the Universe to endure.
However, in the spirit of love and acceptance, which is key to all my philosophical beliefs, we have become friends. Lady has also taught me the power of positive thinking and that it’s good to wag your tail once and awhile.
This is what it means to live in harmony.
On the other hand, my research has shown that humans are very set in their ways and can’t even teach themselves new tricks. Instead, they just keep repeating the same mistakes over and over and over again non-stop.
In my first post, I mentioned that humans seem to have a strange aversion to being “nice” and that indeed there’s quite a lot of “haters” out there. People who would much rather hate than love, accept and encourage. I found this very difficult to understand because most dogs innately try to be good. We want to love and be loved, although there might be a few exceptions. So many humans, on the other hand, seem to be hell bent on being mean, hurtful and just plain nasty.
On the home front, I’ve mentioned how my very own family takes great delight in throwing my ball into the water at Palm Beach, even though they know how much I suffer. Then, adding salt to the wound, Mum takes photos and video footage of me writhing in agony thinking it’s funny…a huge game. That is, instead of saving my ball and helping me out. That really hurts…especially since Mum uses the Golden Rule as her mantra:
The Golden Rule: Treat others as you would like to be treated.
As we move further afield, you just need to turn on your TV.
Last year, we had the shooting down of MH17, the Sydney Siege, the Pakistan Massacre, seven children murdered seemingly by their own mother in Cairns.She also murdered their cousin.
Fast forward to 2015, the United Nations Year of Light, and we have Paris.
Perhaps, I’ve missed something but from where I sit, the humans haven’t learned anything at all.
That’s not entirely true because you can’t judge the many by the few.
Indeed, following the Sydney Siege, the heart of the city was overflowing with genuine grief and floral tributes. There was an overwhelming outpouring of love. One man might have been evil, pure evil, but millions were good. While that couldn’t change what had happened, it did show that the humans do have a capacity for love, compassion and empathy. There was also that campaign #I’ll ride with you that reached out to show love and acceptance to Muslim women in the aftermath of the siege.
This very encouraging development was certainly something new. Perhaps, the humans are learning, after all.
We’ve been on holidays this week so it’s been difficult for me to really process what has happened in Paris with limited TV access. However, I did see people coming together and lighting candles and another hashtag emerged: “#Je suis Charlie”. While I don’t believe all those people loved the magazine itself, they supported free speech and not being shot for your opinion.
While hate tried to tear down these cities, love has triumphed. It really has.
But that doesn’t let us off the hook…humans or dogs.
I don’t have all the answers but if we perhaps start with the Golden Rule and treat others the way we would like to be treated, humans and dogs will both be learning new tricks and helping to spread love throughout our aching world.
“For the world is in a bad state, but everything will become still worse unless each of us does his best.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
However, I’d just like to request one little furry exception to the Golden Rule…
Do I really have to be nice to cats?
This thing between cats and dogs goes way beyond me and that pesky cat next door. It’s in our blood…our genes. As long as there have been cats and dogs on this planet, it’s been war and that isn’t going to change any time soon.
Humph, this Golden Rule is more of a problem than I thought. It’s all very well to treat everyone you like the way you’d like to be treated but it’s quite a different story when it comes to your enemies. However, there can be no exceptions to the Golden Rule. It doesn’t work like that.
Humph. At this point, it’s very tempting to head back to my laboratory and stick to research. There’s such a gaping void between research and practice and I have no idea how to build a bridge. I might be smart and The Ball Fetching Champion of the Universe. However, being the change myself is just too hard.
Perhaps, I’ll have to bring in an expert. I have heard about households where cats and dogs are family but there certainly aren’t any in my particular neck of the woods.
Yes, indeed. This is a great place to launch the next phase of my research.
Who knows, perhaps with a bit of training and some loving support, even I might just be able to love cats after all but I suspect that dogs will be living on the moon long before that happens.
Love & a fairly cautious wag of the tail,