AT THE INTERSECTION OF DOG AND GOD
From warm sleeping companion to hunting partner to fierce protector, this world-renowned judge succinctly sums up our connection to the dog…
Since pre-human (Homo sapiens) days, dog and man have had a symbiotic relationship, varying in expression from sleeping-area warm companion to watch dog/alarm-dog to hunting partner and protector. Even today in cultures antipathetic to dogs, they are seen to have acceptable functions.
In every inhabited continent, I have studied dogs and people’s uses and attitudes. I have judged dog shows in countries where they still eat dogs. I've studied dogs in places where dogs are cherished as if they were their owners’ offspring, and even in regions where icons and statues of canine deities are still revered.
Some people even today have quasi-religious or mystical beliefs that deal with nebulous connections to “positive energy” or similar feelings when interacting with dogs. There is no doubt that emotional responses are common in humans when we get physically close to certain animals, but that varies more than readers of this publication might suspect.
Most of those perusing these paragraphs are likely to have “Western” cultures; i.e., have been brought up with daily communication or observation of domestic animals, whether Fifi on the couch or Bessie in the barnyard. Familiarity doesn’t breed contempt as the old saw goes. With dogs it imore often engenders love and similar emotions. However (as I have observed in travels on every continent while judging or in the study of dogs, there are cultural exceptions.
In some remote parts of China and neighboring lands, dogs are mostly considered to be food. More commonly, in semi-civilized and less-westernized regions, the canine is the free-ranging garbage-disposing creature in the same category as rats and maggots. In some places, "dogs" are the seldom-seen and truly undomesticated or “wild” variety.
Readers of these thoughts share a love and appreciation of dogs but interpreting those feelings can vary greatly among us. “The calm that we get when stroking a pet” leads many to think there is some sort of magnetism or “positive-energy-field” or spiritual connection that is generated by the act or the object.
However, it is my conviction that this emotion wells up from our own psyches and life experiences rather than coming from anything external.
Similarly, when people touch things such as relatives’ tombstones, prehistoric scratches in rocks, statues and icons it is easy enough to imagine that the soul-stirring is generated by those objects rather than from within.
I observed people feeling the same kind of “energy” at Machu Picchu when I was on lecture/judging tour in Peru one year, I climbed to the top of Huayna Picchu, which looks down on Machu Picchu. The mountain is seldom climbed by tourists, as parts are (or were) accessible only by pulling oneself up by ropes fastened to the vertical walls while trying to stick toes into small crevices. It would take a lot more time and puffing now!
BTW... the altitude is so extreme at the top of Huayna Picchu, that there and in Cuzco, almost everyone needs to drink Coca Tea (very mild dose of cocaine in those leaves) in order to keep from fainting... passing out... "Altitude sickness" is a very real thing.
I also remember when I visited the land of my Frisian ancestors and laid my hand on the dike that held the ocean back from Dutch farmland, I was surprised by the emotion I felt. I could have interpreted that as energy coming from the ocean beyond the berm, or the earth’s memories of blood and bone there from centuries past but my scientific and religious studies and life experience inhibit leaning in such a direction.
I have a very heightened and intense sympathetic connection with dogs stemming largely from a childhood in a “broken home” that led me into an intense avocation and a part-time vocation dealing with dogs.
Those of us who have some degree of emotional bond with our dogs may ascribe it to some mystical cause or reason but all of us can rejoice in our canine connections.
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