OXFORD — People say the world is going to the dogs.
We could do worse.
Dogs are cool about most things; there’s no way they would have created local, state, national and global entanglements that people have. So many problems. So little desire to address them in an open and honest way.
And that’s another thing that can be said about dogs. You know what’s on their minds. No double-dealing. No stealth. In today’s vernacular, dogs are “transparent.”
Their agenda on any given day is direct — eat, sleep, guard and, whenever the opportunity presents itself, make more dogs.
There are two bad things going on in dog world. Well, maybe not as bad as the crisis in Crimea or the Mississippi Legislature’s nonstop struggle to swim against the tide, but at least questionable.
First is the use of dogs as bait.
Maybe the dogs don’t mind, but it is demeaning. Guys (the human variety) going for a jog have for some time realized their chances of meeting girls (the human variety) increase exponentially if preceded by a lab on a leash.
That’s one thing; using dogs in politics is another.
Yes, Nixon started it back in 1952 with that Checkers Speech in which he answered campaign corruption charges by admitting only that a donor had given his daughter a puppy (Checkers) and, by golly, she was going to keep it. But this type of ploy, in today’s vernacular, has “gone viral.”
In recent student elections on the campus where I work, clusters of boosters outside the Student Union were group-texting madly. “If y’all have any cute pets, be sure to bring them,” they advised the next shift. See? Most students are indifferent to campus politics. It’s not easy to get them to accept a candidate’s sticker for their backpacks. They would, however, pause for paws. It’s a rough calculation, but a schnauzer puppy appears to be worth 50 votes; a Doberman about 75.
Another example: Last week I purchased a hoagie, chips and a bottled drink for a roadside derelict whose cardboard sign read, “Hungry. Please Help.”
In the immediate aftermath, I was feeling self-satisfied about my charity, my outreach, in today’s vernacular, to a fellow traveler.
After a while, though, I had to admit it: Four pop-top cans of Alpo were also in my purchase — for the forlorn dog sitting with the forlorn derelict. “Dang,” came the epiphany. “It was that dog that got your attention,” I said to myself, knowing that buying the sandwich was just a tactic to get food to the dog.
I’d been hooked. Reeled in. Not that I minded, really.
The other not-so-good thing going on in dog world is the trend toward buying them clothes.
Ask yourself this: Have you ever seen a dog happy about being dressed in a tutu? Or a sombrero? Or a fuzzy coat?
They’re not. People dress dogs to entertain themselves. Dogs hate it. (Please don’t write me about this or send pictures. Take my word for it. Your dog may endure clothing because it makes you happy, but he or she prefers the coat in which he or she was born.)
Now it’s true there are people who don’t like dogs, who don’t trust dogs, who fear dogs. And there are criminal dogs, dogs that bite recklessly, but I dare say that as a proportion of the total population, there are probably fewer criminal dogs than criminal people.
So, what if dogs ruled?
Well, for one thing there would be a lot more acceptance and a lot less worrying and stress on the planet. Dogs don’t fret, nor do they worry about things they can’t change.
The biggest characteristic on the plus side of the ledger in dog world is loyalty.
When they plight their troth to an individual or a family it is, in the vernacular, “for good.” Unless they have been spoiled (which is entirely possible), dogs spend every moment (save nap time) looking out for their people.
Martin Luther is famous because he ignited Protestantism 600 years ago, but he also knew dogs. He felt their numbers cause us to overlook their value to humanity. “The dog,” he wrote, “is the most faithful of animals and would be much esteemed were it not so common. Our Lord God has made His greatest gifts the commonest.”
And that, in today’s vernacular, sums it up pretty good.