When it comes to love, dogs offer all of the devotion with none of the guile. They won’t sign up for a secret account on Match.com, or see another owner behind your back. And that flirtation with the pet sitter … well, it’s harmless.
As any Italian grandmother will tell you (after she pinches your cheeks until they’re blue), the act of providing a meal is about far more than just calories. It engages every psychologist-beckoning motivation you can think of, from a sense of worthiness to a need to nurture.
When some people set out a meal, they’re not just saying, “I care about you,” but rather, “Here’s exactly how much I care about you …”
I don’t agree with everything that Cesar Millan says or writes, by any stretch, but I do see wisdom in his observation that we anthropomorphize way too much. Dogs are dogs, not humans in fursuits.
Sure, what does it hurt to bake your dog a carob-and-oatmeal birthday cake, or dress her up for Halloween? (Though there are a few Dachshunds I know who would argue, if they could, that those hot-dog costumes officially cross the line.) In fact, many of the rituals we share with our fellow two-leggers aren’t appropriate for dogs.
Dogs are like fuzzy snowflakes – no two are alike. And while the dogs that came before helped shape you into the competent, caring owner that you are today, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that what works for one will work for the other.
We love our dogs so much that there’s a temptation to keep them from anything that might hurt them – to cover them in cotton batting, away from any sharp edges.
But dogs are hard-wired to want to interact with the world – sniffing, poking, running, jumping, dodging and otherwise shaking it up in the biosphere.
If you’re really a “dog person,” then your love for the counter-surfing, Frito-foot-scented mush at home represents something bigger – a love of the species as a whole. Perhaps you are devoted to a particular breed.