If they could choose, this is what I believe most dogs’ perfect day would look like:
- Roam the bush or park freely, sniffing at everything that takes their fancy with no boundaries.
- Chase the annoying cat from next door and put it in its place for good. No questions asked.
- Hunt down and catch a rabbit and eat it fresh, crunching into the bones and not sharing with anyone.
- Take a wizz on the new flowerbed that the council has just planted, just because they can.
- Enthusiastically greet every human they meet by jumping up and bowling them over so they can be licked repeatedly in the face.
Yet… we expect a lot from our dogs in 2014. They need to guard and keep our homes safe, but not bark when home alone. They need to have personality and be cute, but they may not jump up on people or chase children. They may not be fussy or ungrateful about the food we choose to feed them, but may not scavenge from the kitchen bin or beg at the dining room table.
So many conflicting rules! And then there’s the matter that they neither speak English nor understand the social constructs of the society we live in.
So next time you ask your dog to sit contentedly next to you for an hour at a café while you catch up with friends over a cappuccino, calmly greet visitors at the door or walk on a loose lead while ignoring the multitude of smells that are wafting through their nostrils and other more exciting options for them, think about what they are sacrificing to be your companion animal.
I don’t think we give our dogs enough credit for what they are giving up to be called “good” or “nice”. Or reward them enough when they do.