And be a simple kind of man.
Be something you love and understand.
So many religions out there. Varying philosophies. Ways to go about living your life “right”. So many different thoughts about how to be the best person. Rules deciding who isn’t a good person. Who we should emulate, and who we should eradicate. Some are good, some are, uh…gooder. Some are flat out wrong. I can’t always tell them apart. Sometimes they’re good and bad. So many confusing thoughts and ideas out there, it’s how to deduce the best way to live; what philosophy is best. I think maybe a different dogma is in order. Something much simpler.
I’ve long maintained that dogs are very, very simple. Not stupid, just simple.
For example, one of my favorite foods – fresh tomatoes out of the garden, still warm from the sun – is about as simple as it can get. Nothing complex. Nothing weird lurking under all that deliciousness. Probably won’t give me cancer, cellulite, bad hair days or an unsavoury reputation. Just sweet simplicity.
Frequently we assume that simple can’t be good. At least not as good as something more intricate…more complex. The more engineered, the better. Why? I’ve never seen a tomato engineered to adequately replicate a sun-ripened tomato I’ve just picked from my garden.
Dogs are good because they’re simple …or they’re simple because they’re good. You can’t redesign them or re-engineer them to be more simplistically perfect than they already are. Go ahead. Try. I see people do it all the time. It makes my eyeballs itch.
“I make Fido sit every time we stop while on a walk.”
“I don’t let him go swimming because his fur smells funny afterwards.”
“I only stay on the path so his paws don’t get muddy.”
“Fido isn’t allowed on the bed because it’s bad.”
Who came up with these ideas?! Your dog is a dog. Not a machine. Treat them like a dog, and you’ll have 10+ years of an imperfect being in your life, loving you as perfectly as only a dog can. A wonderfully smelly beast full of nasty fur, drooling mouth and sloppy kisses. If you want something pristine, I’d suggest a pet rock.
Dogs love you because you’re simply there. No reason is needed. You exist, and they love you, whether you haven’t showered after your workout yet, or your socks don’t match. They are so accepting of everything about us, they don’t even fetter us with descriptions of “good” and “bad”. Rationalization and categorization are not a strong points with dogs (mercifully). Why are you rationalizing them? Over thinking everything?
Dogs ask simple questions: yes or no are the only answers to these questions. How simple is that? Dogs have simple needs: Piloting, Activity and Work. Give them that, and you can return their love as much as you want. Such a simple way to attain limitless affection! They make it so easy for us, and we still try our best to mess it up.
We create back-stories for our dogs: “He’s afraid of men because he was a rescue, and I’m sure he was abused by a man.” Nope. It’s just who Fido is. Don’t try to pick his brain apart. Just answer his questions!
Should I be afraid of this man?
No, Fido. I’ll protect you.
That’s all he wants to hear – the answer to his question. Simply stated without all kinds of bells and whistles. The same way he would answer it for you.
Even when it comes to commands I teach my dogs, I still keep it very simple. Sit, Stay, Come, No. That’s it. Every single situation we run into can be covered by these simple commands. I never taught my dogs “lie down”. I never found it necessary. Why waste time on something like that when I can train them to do something fun like this? While you’re training your dog to sit at every stop sign or corner, Sparta and I spent a summer doing this!
Keep it simple. I have a favorite phrase that I like to use when I find myself over-complicating things: Eschew obfuscation. That’s my dogma. No, Sparta doesn’t sit every time I stop during a walk. But she has learned some pretty amazing tricks that make both of us happy. Orion never learned to lie down, but he’s a lot of fun to do agility with. Our energy is going towards simple, easy goals: companionship. Bonding. Joy. And simply put – love.