Simple is good. It keeps life uncluttered and easy to navigate. The love of a dog is the ultimate in simplicity with straightforward expectations, no more complicated then food, walk, water or play.
For breakfast Willie, the Border Collie, will stand in the corner where I make his food. He’ll look at me with a question mark and turn his head towards the spot on the counter where his food will sit. This isn’t a glancing look from me to the food. No, Willie first ensures he’s caught my eye, then slowly, as though dragging my eyes with him, he tilts his head and coyly turns it in the direction of the food. It’s a simple need, a simple manipulation. He does the same when he wants a walk or to do some work. he doesn’t mix it up or add extra drama. His expectations aren’t over the top.
Nike, the Shetland Sheepdog, lives for a walk. In the morning, after she’s let out and finishes her business she’ll sit on the front porch, her shadow visible through the glazed window beside the door. Her hearing is impressive, picking up the sound of my slippers hitting the floor before I slip socks on, knowing it’s the last sound before I grab the car keys and leave the house for our walk. The rest of the day she sits no more than three feet from me, quietly following me from room to room, errand to errand, job to job, never asking for more than a periodic pat on the head.
Humans wrap life up with variables, multi dimensional layers and relational complexity. Whole branches of psychology have been created to analyze each aspect of our behavior and still questions remain about motivation and outcomes. And we aren’t always happy with how the results play out. Today, people pay good money to immerse themselves in simplicity, minimizing stimulation, clutter, and acquisition. Our dogs have never had to learn that lesson, aligning themselves instead with beings who excel at creating chaos. Perhaps they gave themselves to us to show us a different way, a better way.
A dog’s life. Something to learn from and live by.