I was out with my camera the other day when Kite found her favourite toy. I got a few pictures before sunset and bedtime. Watching them now, afterwards, I find myself really amazed by her paws. Not only are they big, but they also seem to be fully controlled. Every toe is carefully placed in the right spot to keep the toy locked in its place. Then it hits me. I live with a full blooded predator.
Most people probably never realizes that we live amongst predators. The pet dog is so adaptable it will be happy with life even if treated like a human being. How many of us really cares about the dog – seen as a dog? We have expectations that we often demands them to live up to. Dogs are filling our empty spaces in relations, giving us self-confidence, safety and competition. They are truly amazing, these creatures..
A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself..
So, imagine your dog has spent his/hers whole life trying to understand you and your expectations. Then let us take a moment and try to understand your dog!
Although the dog once survived from hunting, many of our dogs have learned not to. We limit their instincts to running after balls and chase each other while playing. Most dogs accept this substitute of hunting. Their wish to live next to us actually makes them forsake one of their strongest instincts – just to be loved by us. Now the siberian husky won’t do this. When opportunity is given, she will hunt. Can I blame her? Can I blame her for having a survival instinct stronger than her love for me? My answer is no.
But since I chose to live with her, it’s my responsibility to make sure she can satisfy those instincts in a way that is accepted in the human society. Running after balls, of course. But she would probably prefer running in harness. Or lure on birds and mice during rest days. Or dig, jump, climb. The nature is the best playground for the siberian husky.
I guess most people don’t like dogs growling and/or showing teeth. Me neither. But still, how else would they show their disapproval? Has a dog even got the right to be averse to other dogs – or even to humans? I have been thinking a lot about this. How much is fair to demand from our furred friends? We ask them to live in our human world. They learn to understand our human language better than we understand it ourselves. They learn to live by our human rules. They do it even though these rules actually asks them to set aside their own instincts, languages and natural traits. It is our choice – and our responsibility – to make sure the dog can actually be herself from time to time.
The growling is one of the few very distinct ways for a dog to show disapproval. She asks us to keep our distance, to stay away. She asks other dogs to leave her alone. She even asks people around us to keep out of our properties. The growling can come in handy in our human world. But do we let them use it? This language of theirs? Do we let them communicate their disapproval? Do we let them show their genuine feelings about things?
I probably wouldn’t recommend a relation free from demands. Actually, when I watch my dogs in their relations to each other, I can see how they too have expectations and demands. Some like to be alone. Some wants to play. Other care most for their toys. Their own and precious. They have all different interests and different personalities. My main approach is to let them be individuals, as long as they are polite and don’t harm each other. Just like kids, I guess. And as far as possible, I try to respect a growl.
I feel like I got a little carried away from the topic I started out with. Sometimes my mind can be like that. It flies away, takes new directions. I really enjoy imagining how life looks like through the eyes of dogs. Actually, I believe this to be one of the keys to success with dogs. My ability as a human, to understand the dog and give her the best opportunity to be herself in our human world – without endangering the safety of other citizens. Both humans and furry ones.
That is not a small assignment. Nor easy. But it is probably one of my most important tasks as a dog owner. To keep the balance, the thin line between the dog as a pet and the dog as a predator. I was the one who decided that Kite and her friends will live with me in the human world. Therefor, it has become my responsibility to figure this out.
Aren’t they amazing, these paws? The paws of a predator..