The Boss's Dog

Was it worth it?

By The General

Coming in from the cold I mean – and throwing in our lot with homo sapiens?

This is a question all dogs ask themselves from time to time as they observe the strange behaviours of the two-legged lot.

And the unexamined life is not worth living, Socrates said. The Boss can quote Socrates when he realizes he hasn’t been fishing for a month, or when Queenie nicks off with one of his work boots, or when he runs out of kindling. Anyway, that’s one of his favourites.

Socrates quaffed his hemlock about 2500 years ago but hounds were well settled in by then. I’m told the Egyptian Pharaohs used to work thousands of slaves to death just to build a tomb for their favourite dogs.

We don’t get treated as well these days, which is a question for later - but it partly explains why we took the risk in the first place.

If you think about it, hunting up your tucker every day is hard work – even harder if you’re feeding a litter as well. Particularly in the middle of winter, when everything is hunkered down, hiding and hibernating.

So, life is easier being fed by a human, even if it’s a measly helping of dry pellets out of a packet. I think that’s why the wolf wandered into the camp and sat down with his tail wagging. It looked easier.

But it’s a heavy price to pay. In exchange for a regular feed, a dog has to put up with a lot.

Think of the indignities, for a start. The collar, the leash, the Woolmix wash, getting your nails clipped, having ribbons and hats stuck on you to amuse the kids – and The Boss isn’t past wrapping me in a Tigers’ scarf when they win.

And you’ve all seen dogs get brushed and clipped and shampooed, put on a show bench and dragged around a ring, made to catch a frisbee while doing a somersault over ten bodies on the ground and dancing on their hind legs to make people laugh.

This is done to us by people who think they are smarter than us because they come from a species which is able to reason. Yet they can be pretty unreasonable.

Consider the feller shouting at his dog. Or worse, giving it a belting. Now, dogs can be naughty, mostly when they’re young and playful. But with an older dog, you can be almost certain that the dog isn’t clear on what he’s supposed to do.

That’s because the unreasonable human hasn’t bothered to train the dog properly - through laziness, incompetence or a lack of common sense, or all three. He thinks the dog should know what he thinks but he doesn’t think much at all.

Otherwise he’d stretch both ways first thing in the morning, like a dog does. He’d go to bed when it’s dark and get up when it’s light – instead of going to bed when he should be getting up.

I get these unthinking types along the river, camping. They settle in, light a fire – and turn on some loud music. Instead of listening to the boobook calling over the hushed murmur of the river, they keep me awake all night.

No wonder their dogs are confused. These are the blokes who let their hounds jump up on them when they have their jeans on. Maybe it feels like the dog likes them, when the dog is just doing what he thinks he’s expected to do.

Then they go crook at the dog when they’ve got their best pants on. How is a dog supposed to know?

Or they'll throw balls for the dog and give it a pat when the dog retrieves it. Except when the dog retrieves a ball he sees in the park, that happens to have been thrown by another dog's owner. Then the unreasonable reasoning human shouts at the dog, which is confused, then whacks it because he looks foolish in front of the other owner. He looks like his dog is out of control, when it is he who is out of control.

That’s why we keep asking ourselves: was it worth it? Woof!