I really enjoyed this video (the link is at the end of this post) because it reminded me of the German Shepherd/Samoyed mix I grew up with. The video is posted by someone I don’t know, and I don’t own the material.
Theodora was an angel. She could be left alone with food that was within her reach, and she’d just sit there staring at it and salivating (not slobbering on the food, though) until one of her humans returned and shared with her. She did that with appetizers we left on the coffee table when we had company. We never left the food there for long, though, because it seemed mean. Never take advantage of anyone’s finer traits.
Theodora was a gorgeous canine specimen of self-discipline, kindness and everything else we can’t always find in human beings. She was just about perfect, as long as she wasn’t on the leash or in the vet’s office. She bit the vet once, which even the nastiest people rarely do in the doctor’s office. But enough of this negative talk.
Theodora did beg at the table, only because we didn’t forbid that. We didn’t feed her at the table, though. We shared food with her at the kitchen counter and in the livingroom when we entertained, but never at the table. At the table, it was understood that she was free to ask, but she wouldn’t get anything until after the table was cleared and my mother put a little bit of meat — cut into small pieces — on a plate for her.
Theodora stayed off of all furniture except the beds. That’s one thing she did not have in common with the dog in the video. We probably would have known if she got comfy on the couch when she was alone because she left tumbleweeds of dog hair in her wake. The tumbleweeds were on the human beds and the doggie bed and the floor, but the only dog hairs we ever saw on the couch were the stray ones that floated in the air. They’d land anywhere, including on bookshelves and inside closed cabinets.
I remember reading somewhere that dogs lack the mental capacity to lie about their intentions. Here’s my rebuttal:
When Theodora begged for food, she had two separate facial expressions. If the human with the food wasn’t looking at her, her ears would stand straight up and she’d look as if she was tempted to move in for the kill. Of course, a dog who could be trusted to sit unsupervised with food on the coffee table probably wouldn’t steal under any circumstances, but someone who was standing at a distance and watching the dog could see the canine instinct in action.
If the person snacking at the kitchen counter turned and looked at Theodora, her expression changed suddenly. The ears would go back, and she’d look so sincere you couldn’t suspect her of anything. Which brings us to the YouTube video. It’s the same thing, isn’t it?
During the weekend, I reread The Call Of The Wild by Jack London. The central character, an enormous dog named Buck, adapts to changing circumstances because of life experience and natural instinct in his bloodline. Life experience and instinct are not one and the same, but the dog’s will to survive compels him to act on both.
The Call Of The Wild is an astute view of nature, and to a certain degree Buck’s life is a metaphor for anyone’s life. Forget the bionic dog. The first time I read the story I was twelve years old, and the book was required reading in seventh grade. I thought it was about a dog superhero. While The Call Of The Wild is a good, albeit disturbing, read for a child, the real gist of the story is better understood by adults.
But I digress.