Your dog ain’t all that
If you can’t ignore Facebook like I can’t, you’ve seen list pieces about what dogs can teach us about life.
Dogs are wiser, more self-actualized and more evolved mammals than humans are, we’re told, and certainly more helpful to our personal self-actualization than our therapists. Even if they sniff butts, eat and puke garbage, roll in squirrel poop, jump with their filth into our beds, snore like a chain saw attacking cinder blocks, and peel paint from the walls gassing all night.
I mean the dogs, not the therapists.
A recent Huffington Post piece says dogs can teach us to: Live in the moment … overcome fear with love … avoid holding grudges … play every day … jump for joy when you’re happy … accept yourself … enjoy the journey … drink lots of water … be loyal and dependable … and love unconditionally. Like nobody I’ve ever liked or even respected has ever done.
But what if you don’t have a dog?
Maybe you can’t open your shuttered, icy heart to a loving canine, or maybe the lease on your squalid hovel doesn’t allow one.
To avoid dying alone, or dates or mates thinking you don’t love animals, maybe you chose a different pet. Don’t the other life companions and comfort animals we can take on aircraft to bite, alarm or irritate fellow passengers also have lessons to teach us? Let’s explore.
· Sleep all day until sleeping too much makes you sleepy, so you need to sleep some more.
· Think outside the box but never poop there.
· Lick obsessively to bathe yourself and then vomit unspeakably foul wet hair masses that look like Elton John toupees, do this in secret places, and act like it never happened. (Like, unconfirmed rumor has it, Elton does.)
· Notice, obsess about, and attack things that might not be real. Like a spot on the wall. Or Hillary’s “corruption.”
· Your boredom is someone else’s problem to address. Every major cable, internet and content provider knows this.
· Give just a little bit of love, if and when you feel like it, and make it seem authentic by purring. Even a small, begrudging taste of love makes insecure people crave and come back begging for more. In relationships, withholding is power. Cats know this.
· However horrible your existence, even if you live confined in a bed of cedar chips, always stop and smell the cedar.
· Exercise daily — the hamster wheel is really a NordicTrack you actually use every day, and don’t ignore and eventually put on Craig’s List at 80% discount with all the others there.
· Don’t worry about having a barely discernible personality. A little can go a long way. If you’re adorable, you can give back even less love than cats do.
· Surround yourself with people who love and cherish you because you’re cuddly, waddle when you walk, and nibble on cashews with a hilarious Austin Powers overbite.
· Ignore urban legends.
Tropical fish lessons:
· All you need to succeed in life is to look flashy, ridiculously pretty or exotic like a supermodel (whether male or female; it’s hard to tell with fish and supermodels sometimes and gender shouldn’t matter anyway). Or if you look weird in a frightening yet fascinating way. Also like a supermodel.
· There’s nothing wrong with swimming in your poop and everyone else’s. It’s like being in the fashion industry.
· Like the old joke about the dog that can talk, it’s not what you say or how well you say it; it’s that you can say anything at all. Even if you’re just “parroting” what you’re trained to say and given bits of cracker as a reward. Like Steve Doocy on Fox and Friends.
· In spite of the latest hashtags, it’s still acceptable, even amusing and potentially a success factor, to scream obscenities and even disgusting, abusive sexual innuendo. This seems to work for Billboard’s Top 10 Dirtiest Rappers. If your macaw is named Gucci Mane, he might teach you the right way to say things you should never ever say anywhere, ever, not even with air quotes.
· Living in a comfortable cage is not so bad if there is plenty of food, water and the fake news New York Times lining the cage to read and then crap on. Also like Steve Doocy.
Owners of iguanas, pot-bellied pigs, pythons, tarantulas, ponies, llamas, chickens and other non-dog animal companions might learn their own lessons from their chosen pets.
To each one’s own, as they say.
For me, while I find cats withholding, they’re also oddly compelling.
I’m working with my therapist about what that means for me.
Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer