Cindy - Column for 3/15
I have this dog. I love him dearly, but he's spoiled and doesn't really listen to me if I'm telling him to do something he doesn't want to do. Actually, sometimes he doesn't listen to me if I'm telling him to do something he wants to do, just because he enjoys the feeling of independence. He's a large purebred and he sleeps on our bed. It's where he belongs.
Now, for the past week, I've also been taking care of my father-in-law's dog. This dog is NOT spoiled. This is a dog who was found abandoned as a puppy beside a roadside motel in Wyoming. While I don't attribute him any grand powers of observation, he's clearly aware of the odds against being left in the middle of rural Wyoming and spontaneously adopted into a comfortable suburban household. He is nothing if not grateful. He's small, he's a mutt, and if you pick him up and put him on our bed he'll jump off instantly. Sleeping on the bed would be above his station.
Each of these dogs are interesting character studies on their own, but I think watching them interact has taught me more about Class warfare than any ten college courses put together.
Things I've noticed:
- If you give each dog a bone out of sight of the other dog, they will happily chew on their bones in peace. But if Big Dog sees Small Dog chewing a bone, he will abandon his own bone to take away the other bone. Then the small dog takes the big dog's abandoned bone, and the process starts over. Peace is only achieved when Big Dog is sitting on Small Dog's bone and chewing on his own. This peace lasts only as long as Big Dog's vigilance.
- Big Dog and Small Dog, separately, aren't big eaters. They'll both leave food in their bowls for later. Together, they eat everything that's put out for them, consuming much more food together than they would separately. Big Dog doesn't want to leave anything for Small Dog, and Small Dog had better eat what it can, while it can.
- Big Dog is more relaxed than Small Dog. To Small Dog, I am a God. When I stand up from my chair, Small Dog is on his feet, ready to follow me into Hell. Big Dog is happy snoozing until I do something that directly concerns him. Thus, for all his selfishness, Big Dog is less annoying than Little Dog, and I don't step on him nearly as often.
- Little Dog is harder to trick than Big Dog. Playing fetch with both dogs, if I pretend to throw a ball in one direction, the Big Dog will lumber away in anticipation. Little Dog doesn't understand my motivation, only my action. He follows where the ball goes, not where it looks like it might.
- Little Dog is faster and more agile than Big Dog. He gets to the thrown ball first, every time. He also gives it up to Big Dog, once Big Dog arrives. Thus, Peace is maintained.
- Most notably of all, the presence of Small Dog makes it easier to manipulate Big Dog. It is tremendously important to Big Dog that Small Dog not leave his sight, nor be allowed to go anywhere Big Dog is not. Usually, when Big Dog is outside, he'll come inside when he damn well feels like it. Calling in Big Dog is to start a game of keep-away. But if I call Small Dog inside, both dogs come running. Give a command to Small Dog, and Big Dog follows suit, lest he be shown up by his inferior. Big Dog's need for independence is trumped by his need to be better than Small Dog.
Somewhere in this last observation is the key to World Domination. I'm sure of it.
Columns by Cindy