Are Dogs Better than People?

Контент 18+ (лексика, описания насилия)
When I was a kid back in Charleston, West Virgina, when we still played 'Cowboys and Indians'  and thought jokes were funny that would seem stupid now because they weren't all about sex and every other word wasn't "f*uck", dogs running free were part of the landscape. Home from school, the kids went out to play and so did the dogs. The kids had a pecking order and so did the canines. We knew who could beat whose ass, and so did Prince and Duke and Rover. And basically, we all got along fine.

The dogs chased cars and 'shat' (plural of shit) in the fields where we organized our own baseball and football games, depending on the season. Sometimes we stepped in the shit. No big deal as long as we scraped it off our shoes before we went inside our homes. Stomping in a pile of dog manure was part of being a kid, and as far as I remember nobody died of cancer or tuberculosis because of it.

It's different now. I can understand that in crowded cities there must be some restraint, and since I love dogs I am only too happy to see them on leashes. You see, this protects the dog as much as it does the kid. Because any time there is a conflict between a child (or even an adult) and a dog, the dog gets blamed, sometimes with lethal consequences for the animal.

Don't get me wrong — I like children — as long as they are properly cooked. (OK, OK, I am joking of course!)  But I fail to see why, especially in public parks, there has to be this automatic disconnect between animals and children, often based on some crappy, nonsensical 'hygiene' issue. I see that in Moscow many areas which used to be open, speckled with rough wildflowers and virginal paths — places where shepherds and poodles and beagles could romp — are now full of foppish little 'playgrounds' manicured and custom-made to the point of resembling faggy 'theme' parks  — 'playtime' museums like you see outside of MacDonalds.

Knowing Moscow as well as I have come to know Moscow, it would not surprise me if one of the Mayor's 'special' friends or 'consultants' owns a factory that makes a big profit building such playgrounds. And of course we should remember that dogs can't vote, but the namby-pamby parents CAN. There is always something under-handed going on here.
Because these parks are made expressly in order to EXCLUDE dogs. I am sure that the people who endorse this sort of thing somehow convince themselves —  just as smug corporate types always assume that they are high above the common riff-raff —that these bans reflect a higher level of 'sophistication', They admire all the tidy sandboxes and swings and sliding boards — everything as germ-free as if their children were crawling around in incubators or glass bubbles, and they take a deep breath and sigh with pleasure. Maybe these people wash their hands fifty times a day. Well, I have news for you. The children of my youth were in general much healthier than the pale, thin, cyber-space-imprisoned, introverted, absolutely spoiled young nerds you see today. No, we didn't yet have all the vaccines and vitamins, etc. But we were tougher, stronger, better adapted children, and our faces were rosy from the fresh air. And there were PLENTY of dogs.

There is no question in my mind that many people are as afraid of dogshit as they used to be of the secret police. I, personally, am not the least bit disturbed by such a nature-driven essence as shit, although I HAVE noticed that, for some strange reason, human shit smells a lot worse that anything coming out the ass-end of animal. Sometimes you can even say the same for human breath (animals don't smoke and guzzle coffee and booze). Moreover, animals dung is profitable; people pack loads and loads of it into big sacks and sell it as "fertilizer."  Have you ever seen corn grow out of a spot of ground where your Uncle Vanya donated a big, vodka-laced 'jobby'? Let animals roam the fields, however, and I guarantee you the corn-on-the-cob will soon be delicious. As a matter of fact, I love the smell of zoos, but even more, I love the smell of farms and farm animals. I am getting to the point where I would rather look at a natural cow or horse than a woman with false tits and lip implants.

I think it is because animals remain attached to the earth itself in a way that humans try, fruitlessly, to resist. Or deny. I know, for example, that 'civilization' is a facade, a neon canopy strung like an electronic parasol atop an infinite darkness. I don't think it, I know it. What does that mean?
I sometimes ask myself, "What do I know, as opposed to what I think I know?"

Let's see. I don't know much about technology, but I know a lot about sports. I don't understand electronics or auto-mechanicals, but I understand literature. I often cannot get a corporate coffee machine or copying machine to work (they all look like spaceships to me), but I understand dogs. Maybe I was a dog in a former life, or maybe it is just some kind of gift. For example, I have tried to believe in God and so far have mostly failed. In America especially, many people used to try to "sell" God to me, but they never came close to answering my questions. Then one day an old Catholic nun told me that her ability to see (or know) God was a "gift" — the best statement I have ever heard on the subject. I didn't need to question her further. And it really made me think — to reassess what was possibly my own limitations, my own blindness in a certain area. Conflicting interpretation — yes, of course, it is always fair. But dogmatic denial of what is perfectly obvious to another person gifted with insight —defines the fool.

So the 'sister' knew God, and I know dogs. I once had a dispute with a guy. He said that dogs only stay with you if you feed them; otherwise, they don't care about you. They have no feelings. No sadness, no happiness, no anxiety, no loneliness or delight. I liked this guy but when. I asked him: "Have you ever had a dog?" — he stammered for a moment and then admitted "No."  The point was not to humiliate or 'defeat' him, but to expose, as gently as possible, his ignorance.

Ok, a dog cannot play a game of chess with you or discuss the weather. My dogs in Varna do not know that they are in Varna, just as they didn't know when they were in Moscow. They don't know it is now 2017. But go out in a forest with your dog some evening and get drunk and get lost in the middle of that forest. Try to find your way home. Three days later you will probably be half-dead or chewing the bark off the trees, while the dog will be sitting on the front porch wondering what the hell happened to you. Or following you around in circles through the forest. Because he loves you. He will not abandon you. If you starve, the dog — once you have won his heart — will starve with you. Many women will abandon you when the money runs out. Many men will drop you as a friend when you lose your job and income. Not the dog.

Bad dogs almost invariably are the product of bad owners. Mean dogs are usually trained to be that way. Lonely, hyper dogs are the ones who get strapped to a gate or fencepost and ignored. People commit atrocities with dogs —you find it on the internet all the time. These people have not an ounce of conscience. They are the REAL shit.
Children, beautiful as they seem at first, soon start to develop adult characteristics. EGO rises up and advances — as it has a way of doing in people as a whole — and gradually the ephemeral love-child fades and a leaner, meaner adolescent replacement moves in and learns to whine, to bully, to manipulate, and to crush what it finds in its wake. Some children, maybe even many  (I won't say most) retain a certain magic and go to develop their faculties in a wonderful way. Dogs remain children.

This above all: dogs do not punish you for loving them.
Recently in Bliznatsi, my friend Dave went swimming out to sea. Unbeknownst to him, his pit bull Bobby started flailing his way out to him. Dave kept going, he had forgotten all about Bobby, but Bobby, with his mighty coiled muscles and utter devotion, was determined to reach his 'master'. I stood and watched, in growing fear, as that little dog implacably swam farther and farther out until Dave, with a look of amazement,  finally saw him. And together they paddled in. Together.

Moments of epiphany!  That pooch showed me something.
Five years ago, on the top floor of the kruschevka where I live, a little dog appeared from out of the blizzard of a winter morning. Why she climbed the stairs and waited for me to come out — on my way to work — I will never know. But I invited her in and we kept her — a new experience for my wife, who only by degrees learned to accept and love this little dog that wanted so much to survive, to live. Her name is Poppendozhka.

Eventually, my 'converted' wife insisted on another dog, a Rhodesian Ridgeback named Casper. He has grown into a fine young man. They are waiting for me in Bulgaria now. Liuba, Poppy, and Cass. More and more, I feel the urge to answer their call to me. Just get up and go, and say the hell with everything. Throw other obligations to the wind. In the midst of this, however, I am confronted with, what to me, is a profound question. What is the level of love involved? I think my wife loves me. I hope she does. I guess she does. Sometimes I am sure she does. But sometimes not. O how I wonder !!

Human dynamics.
With dogs, however, I feel a kind of certainty. O boy, do I hear the scoffing arguments hurrumphing and snorting against this: "You are afraid of the fact" — my doubters will cry — "that human love is complicated, it is fragile, it is CONDITIONAL !!!  You have to WORK at it !!  The servile dog will cringe if you shout at it (IT) and lick your boots for approval!  Weak man !!! — you are afraid of the CHALLENGE of REAL LOVE !"
Sorry, but no. I have been grappling and fighting (as well as loving and laughing) with the human race for almost 70 years. I know a multitude of people in Moscow, and I enjoy them.
But animals make me happy in a way that people don't and never did. The dogs — my deep blood friends — I see in them an open honesty and trust — it's in their eyes, and they have won MY heart. For those who understand what I am saying, no explanation is needed; for those who don't, none is possible.

And for my wife and I — a marriage not without its share of problems — they hold the bonding power; they offer what I — and maybe Liuba too — have always sought for in places bright or dark: love that will not turn its face away when evil comes. They are our children, and we love them the same way you love yours. Love is love.

===Eric Richard Leroy===

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