Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The phlegmatic dog


While I'm not above flipping off dogs as I walk my neighborhood I am not unalterably opposed to dogs either. Indeed as hatred fills my heart while some clannish, uncivilized dog barks and gnashes its teeth at me for having the temerity to walk on a sidewalk within a thousand feet of him I try to remember, it is not the dog I so despise, it is the owner. Dogs need to be scrupulously and obsessively trained, and every annoying bark or suggestion of violence on the part of a dog is the responsibility of the dog's dark overlord, er, I mean owner.

If one wants to get a darling, one of the family pet, who one doesn't have to train, get a cat!

That said there are plenty of dogs I am perfectly delighted with. The indications that a dog falls in this category will be largely in the negative. To start with, if the dog is not screaming at me in violent fury and hatred we are off to a good start. Another indication I might like a dog will be that the dog isn't mindlessly barking. It will not be running at me with teeth gnashing and violent rage in its eyes. It is not growling or taking offense at my presence. It is not hyper or shaking or racing madly about. Such a dog will not consider me as an object of extraordinary interest, threat, edibility, or competition. And too it is a dog that is not even that keen on sucking up to me.

Yes, we have eliminated a lot of dogs, possibly even most dogs.

But I have one left for you: a phlegmatic dog. A dog who eyes me with a curiosity both mild and respectful. This is a cordial dog, with the light of humor and intelligence glinting in its eye. A Buddhist dog, a dog who may or may not have forgotten how to bark, but will probably never let us know either way. This is a dog who is vying against the very odds arrayed against it to be dignified and yet appealingly failing in that quest while never ever giving it up. Yes, there is a dog for you. That is a dog for me. I saw one on my walk today. We looked at each other, a fence between us. We said hello. That's all I'm asking.

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