A few words of advice to humans, from 'Dogtor Scott'

info@islandpacket.comApril 23, 2012 

Thanks to Dr. Howard Rankin of Hilton Head Island for sharing the story of a dog's intuition.

"Our beloved English setter, Scott, died yesterday at the ripe old age of 13 years, 6 months and 10 days," he wrote.

Howard said that five years ago, Scott started communicating with the family.

"So in commemoration of Scott's passing, I'm sending you the introduction to his book," Howard said.

"How to Grab Life by the Tail"

By Dogtor Scott

I live with a therapist. Personally, I'd rather live with a food distributor. Now, I suppose I should be careful because you humans would naturally assume that means I am unhappy. I am not. My humans are good people, and I have a wonderful life. Actually, I have a better life than they do.

Not only is the alpha male of our pack a therapist, but the alpha female is a writer by profession (but a dog lover by avocation). Words and ideas seem important to my pack mates. They have lots of books all around our house.

Words. We dogs don't need words. We understand many more than you think. Oh, we'll respond to words such as "sit" and "wait" and "roll over" because it's a great -- and easy -- way of getting what we want. That's one of the benefits of being seriously underestimated -- it's very easy to make a good impression and win people over. A few barks and woofs meet all our communication needs. What many people don't seem to realize is that words just articulate feelings. The feelings are there even if there are no words. I have come to realize humans tie themselves up in knots with words. I see that some people hide behind words, and almost everyone overestimates them. Words are trouble.

Of course, I understand words can be a wonderful thing and that many great words have been written. Here's a sample of some of my favorite literature ...

"Large dog treats. Buy one, get one free," on a sign in our local pet store.

Overall, however, words confuse people. My alpha therapist spends many hours a day using words with other people, and I don't think he gets the problem with words. Words are severely overrated, rather like poodles.

I've learned humans make life way too complicated for themselves. They try too hard to become beings they are not and do things they cannot do. I can tell you emphatically that a golden retriever has no desire to be a German shepherd, and a dachshund doesn't want to be a wirehair terrier. This is simply the natural order of things, and none of us dogs challenge nature in this way. Yet I hear many of my alpha's professional colleagues telling people that they can do and be anything they want. In my humble opinion, that's just barking up the wrong tree.

Another thing that really makes me want to scratch is the way you humans totally underestimate the fact that you are social animals. You are far more influenced than you realize by social situations and other social animals -- such as yourselves and yes, we dogs. Humans think independence is the cat's meow, but that's as wrong as a border collie having lamb for breakfast. You just haven't worked out yet that the name of the game isn't independence, it's interdependence. There are some serious implications of this idea, and one of the biggest is that your life is heavily influenced by your pack mates. They influence you, and you influence them. And you both need each other.

I've realized some other important things about humans by keeping my ears and nose to the ground. Human beings are sometimes insecure and competitive. When I pass another dog on the street, let's say a Chihuahua, I don't start wondering whether he is better than me or whether he can do things I can't. I don't need to compare us at all. All that occurs to me is, "you smell good." I'm happy to see him, and he's happy to see me. It's that simple. It seems to me that many humans have a very difficult time dealing with other people who are different. Why does everybody have to be the same as you? And another thing: Humans don't nap nearly as often as they should.

There are other characteristics of humans that I have observed that make no sense. Many people are as stubborn as a Jack Russell with an attitude. All this does is create conflict. It absolutely does not get them what they want. I understand there are times when you must take a stance and be assertive, but a lot of the time this is totally unnecessary and counterproductive.

For goodness sakes, just learn to sit and roll over, and the world will be your oyster-flavored treat. How would you react if, when I had the chance to get a treat and you asked me to "sit," I started to argue with you? Suppose I took the attitude that I didn't want to sit, that I deserved the treat without sitting. Suppose I said -- by my behavior -- that you were being a buffoon by asking me to sit, and I wasn't going to take it anymore.

Suppose I said making me sit for food was a violation of my rights, and I was taking you to the canine court. What would you do? Would you give me treats? Of course not.

Human beings are meant to be smart, but sometimes I wonder about this. It's great to be able to think, but I've observed that many people think too much. If I thought as much as some of you do, I'd be a nervous wreck, too.

I've also observed that some humans remember everything. Dogs have learned it is good to have a short memory. I admit that sometimes backfires, like when we can't remember where we've buried a bone. (I'll let you in on a little secret on that one. A dog never forgets where he put a really good bone.) If two dogs get into a scrap, you'll never hear one turn to the other and say, "You did exactly the same thing 10 years ago when we were on vacation in the Bahamas." No, dogs don't concern themselves with the past because it ruins the present. We bury and forget.

Although my alpha is a good man, I don't think he sees the real problems with humans, and that's probably because he is one. So, it occurred to me that I needed to tell him what he was missing.

We are so much more to you humans than companions. So I made a pact with my alpha, which I thought was fair, and being a member of the sporting breed, fairness is important to me.

So here's the deal: He gives me food and dog treats, and I give him the true story about human beings.

The Island Packet appreciates all written and photographic submissions from readers. All submissions become the copyrighted property of The Island Packet, which may use them for any purpose, including in print and online, without compensation to the submitter.

The Island Packet is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service