This morning before work I had finished walking Bentley and, as our morning routine normally dictates, we ended up lying in the yard together in the sunshine. Bentley is into the whole sunbathing thing, sort of to an extreme. I'm OK with it but I usually just go along for his sake. He normally will not come into the house if it is a sunny day until he's had at least ten minutes or so of sun time. If I force him to come in before he's had a chance to soak up some sun, he'll growl at me or let out a pissed-off bark, etc. So today, I had time before work and I decided 'Alright, I guess we can lay in the sun for a bit'. I laid down and started reading. Bentley found the nearest broken bit of tree branch and promptly started chomping away. Soon he got tired of playing by himself and walked over to me with a mischievous swagger; he had decided that if I was going to be out there, I was going to play with him. I wasn't really in the mood; I had just gotten to the Transcendental Aesthetic chapter of Kant's 'Critique of Pure Reason' and I was trying to sustain some focus so as to fully appreciate the importance of a priori intuitions, but Bentley would not be ignored. He finally shoved his stick onto my open book and gave me a look that said: 'What the hell are you doing staring at this thing? Throw this damn stick across the yard before I bite you in the face.' That's when it occurred to me that Bentley really does not understand literature. In fact when I considered how strange it must seem to him to watch me stare at the pages of a book, I thought 'He really has no idea what is going on here'.
I feel the same way when I watch someone sight read music. They look like a wizard in a trance, just staring intently at some symbols on a piece of paper, magically decoding and translating them into physical action. And Bentley doesn't give a damn about what I'm reading or the fact that I am reading at all; to him I look like a tired, lazy maniac, blankly gazing at the inside of a book. This points to a key realization I've had about dogs: dogs are not constructive by nature. Bentley is amused by one thing alone: tearing shit up. He's not going to play with Lincoln logs in his spare time, or play online poker for amusement, because he PHYSICALLY CAN'T. He's built to destroy, not to create. Basically there are a few ways he can enjoy himself: eating, sunbathing, walking (which includes shitting, pissing, and sniffing), and tearing shit up. He has no use for books and he doesn't understand my fascination with them. Its like when I watch him slowly devour a dog bone, I'm thinking, 'That looks painful and disgusting'; and he's LOVING it. Because that's his thing. That's what he's good at; but its hard to get along in this world when the only thing you are good at is dismantling small, pliable objects. A lesson we can all learn something from.
Friday, October 23, 2009
It's occurred to me that Bentley's obsession with playing rope, or tug of war, is rooted in a deep instinct that dogs and other small carnivores possess. Since little Bentley doesn't have opposable thumbs, it would be very difficult for him to rip apart the bodies of whatever small mammal he might happen to get his paws on in the wild and thus devour their innards. So, dogs work together when they hunt, which not only makes it easier to strategically capture prey but also they can hold carcasses between them in their mouths and rip them apart much faster than if a lone dog were to attempt it. So they can get in, get a meal, and get out before larger predators come around looking for left-overs. Whenever, B and me are 'ropin' it up, he's thinking, 'Oh I wish this was a rabbit between us' and its good practice for him, in case you know he ever needs to rip an animal in half. Oh, Bentley, you and your killer instincts never fail to amuse.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Today I had a daydream that Bentley and I were living in the wild. By 'in the wild' I mean basically in the Appalachian Hills. I had a log cabin and a bow and arrows that I'd carved myself. Every day, Bentley and I would go hunting together. I would hunt and kill, oh I don't know, deer? Bentley would revel in my successes and sympathize with my disappointments as well. He would be the expert Squirrel killer as this is the prime passion of his, the obliteration of the Squirrel race. I decided that in this scenario I would keep the hides of all the Squirrels he killed and mend him a winter coat from the furs of those who'd been made the victims of his lightning agility. We would lord over the land, Bentley and I, and people would tell stories of the Jim-Bentley killer duo that stalked the hills of East Tennessee. Children would be warned about going out at night alone for fear of being hunted like Squirrels by the Jim-Bentley. All missing persons would be attributed to our menacing presence in the area. Then I decided that fate would deem it so that one day, on a hunting trip, Bentley would be struck dead by a poisonous snake while I helplessly watched on unable to intervene because of my extreme phobia regarding snakes. That's when I decided that maybe 'life in the wild' wasn't right for us.