Dogs don’t believe in accidents
I was stepping over my dog Boomer -- which I have to do several times a day since he likes to plant his furry butt between me and wherever I'm trying to get to in the house -- when he lifted his head and my right foot inadvertently made contact with his head in a manner generally described as being "kicked in the chops." He looked at me with that sad doggie expression generally translated into human terms as, "Why?"
And right there I learned one more thing about dogs that I hadn't noticed before: Dogs -- at least properly domesticated dogs -- usually think that things happen to them for a reason. They have no concept of accidents.
So when I kicked Boomer in the chops, he was wondering why I did it. What bad thing had he done to merit his master, his buddy, his pack leader, kicking him in the head? You could almost see him run through the possibilities. Poop on the rug? No, I was just sitting here. Pee in the bedroom? No. Raid the garbage can? Nope. Hmmmm.
I felt so bad. I bent down and hugged his neck, telling him it was OK. He hadn't done anything wrong. But that just confused him. It made him happy. But it confused him. Will master kick me in the chops all the time now before he hugs me? That sucks.
But one of the major differences between dogs and humans is the ability to differentiate between something that happens accidentally and something that happens on purpose. When humans get kicked in the chops, they immediately try to determine if it was accidental or on purpose. The outcome of that analysis determines what we do next. For instance, if it was not an accident and the person who kicked us in the chops is smaller than we are, we kick them back. If they are bigger, we run. If it was an accident, we make a note to avoid the danger in the future. (Note: Don't sleep in doorways.)
But dogs just assume that there's a reason for everything, and that if pain is inflicted upon them, they did something wrong. So while I hugged Boomer, I explained to him, "Buddy, I know. You think I kicked you in the chops on purpose, to punish you for something you did wrong. You think everything you do is wrong. That's just not true. You're just, well, wrong."
That seemed to make him feel better. Or maybe it's just that dogs have a short short-term memory and he had already moved on to other thoughts, like what body parts he was going to lick next.
I, however, felt hurt. Why would that dog think I would kick him in the chops on purpose? I'm not a dog kicker. Cats, hamsters, gerbils ... maybe. But not dogs. (I'm kidding. You ever try to kick a cat? They're really fast.)
The lesson here is to see the world through your dog's eyes. Understand he doesn't know the difference between karma and clumsiness. To him you are God. And God doesn't kick HIS creatures in the chops without a good reason.
Buy Charles Memminger's hilarious new book, "Hey, Waiter, There's An Umbrella In My Drink!" at island book stores or online
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