Undeniably, dogs are intelligent creatures and my own is no exception. He may not be as advanced as some of the other pooches in terms of parlor tricks (when comparing his abilities to those on YouTube), but nonetheless even his basic functions intrigue me.
It’s safe to say that “C” and I have had a chequered history. After we returned from living in Malaysia, the family decided to get a dog and after much deliberation and cogitation, we landed on a springer spaniel. I’d never owned a pedigree dog (and I still think don’t think I do), plumping instead for “portmanteau pooches”, more commonly known in the UK as mongrels. As with all puppies, the joy of the spending time with these energetic bundles of fun to some may be impossible to beat, the smell of puppy breath having the same knock-out punch of an attractively lady wearing Chanel No 5 or the aroma of a freshly baked loaf of bread. The cuteness factor of them makes them desirable beasts, for a time. The hard work kicks in after about 6 months when the honeymoon period is over, when my own millennial’s turned their attention back to technology and the dogs energy is transferred from play to destruction.
And so it was with “C”. He ate most beds we bought him, munched through a kitchen worktop and curled more slippers than the Ottoman empire. I was working away in London during the week and typically came back with fatigue and stressed finding it difficult to settle into a challenging role. He was obviously pleased to see me when I returned, but that soon turned sour when it was clear that I had no time for him at the weekends, with my tiredness boiling over to slipper-whacks when he ruined something else. Over the coming months, every time I returned he would approach me at the door, lower his head and ears waiting for me to pet him, which sometimes I never did. Needless to say my treatment of an innocent and lovable canine was shocking and I still feel guilty now looking back (as well I should).
Things came to a head one week when I told the wife I had found a new home for him over a hundred miles away and that he was going at the weekend. At first she reluctantly agreed and I was all set for the trip. The night before I left, we discussed the matter in the living room, both of us in tears. They say a dog is for life and not just for Christmas and how right they are. As he sat there looking up at us from death row (he did have an orange coat but that’s not important right now), we agreed at the eleventh hour a stay of execution and a plan for my wife to properly train him whilst I was away. She bought a book, took some advice and cracked on and within months, he had taken his rightful place at the bottom of the family ziggurath (with the exception of one of my sons who has never really liked him) but at the top of our hearts.
I noticed the change and over the years, our bond has grown from strength to strength and he is by far the best dog I have ever had. I look forward to seeing him every Thursday night when I return from the City, and even at the age of Nine, he always jumps up, wags his tail, lolls his tongue out of his mouth and does a little wee in excitement. The next five minutes are usually spent with me and him of the floor having cuddles and eventually a little play fight before bed (I’m the only one who does – it’s “our thing”).
Whilst away this week, I watched several episodes of “The Ascent of Man” by Jacob Bronowski, the content of which has made me think more about the evolution of all living things, which in turn reminds me of my very first post on Infinity Beckons, Do Amoebas Have Souls and of course my dog.
My wife thinks I think too much and live in the realm of fantasy and she is probably right (wives always are of course!). Whilst I appreciated the output from Dr Bronowski and his thirteen-episode series from 1973, we diverge when it comes to consciousness and the spirit. I knew he was a materialist reductionist before launching into the box set (like his post-modern contemporary Prof Brian Cox is – who’s “Human Universe” series is blatant rip-off of “The Ascent of Man” – which I reminded him one day when I was very drunk and trolling, which was in those days was a “harmless bit of fun”), who believed that consciousness only exists in humans and that it is merely an epiphenomenon of their evolved brain. The venom he used against Eastern philosophy / belief systems and the unexplained (he cites ESP amongst other woo -woo theories) shocked me, it was like Richard Dawkins had written the script (no surprise that Dawkins has written the foreword in a re-released version of the book that accompanied the series recently).
I have read many noetic volumes over the years, studied in part Eastern belief systems and as a part-millennial listened to various podcasts on alternative therories regarding life the universe and everything. Based on examples and data points, I am very open to the idea that there are two forms of consciousness (local [lower] and non-local [higher]). Local consciousness is our present awake state, the state we exist in between birth and death, with non-local consciousness existing beyond that which our senses can perceive (and this site has over the years cited personal examples of why I think that way).
But what has that got to do with my dog. Well…
Using Bronowski’s evolutionary theory (and my next post will be a long read about “The Ascent of Man”), dogs have also evolved over the last few millions of years, originally being nomads themselves, wild animals travelling in packs and hunting to survive. They too found themselves within a domesticated environment (albeit domesticated themselves), living side by side with humans for at least the last twelve thousand years (predating the agricultural revolution in the Middle East / Jericho)
Like early man, they too have a rudimentary communication system (whimper = pain, bark = warning/danger, growl = anger) as well as other metaphysical identifiers (sighs = boredom; tongue out/tail wag = happiness). Something I’ve noticed about my dog though goes beyond canine norms, precognition. It sounds very odd but in the moments before I take him for a walk he is already aware of it. I don’t even have to talk about it, he is there, knowing what is about to happen. I can even be in a different room and when a silent decision is made inside my head, he typically comes in, lolls his tongue and wags his tail in advance of me making my way to the kitchen door to grab the lead.
Dogs reaction times are so much faster than humans, throwing scraps of food easily shows that human time and dog time are not the same. It’s like me throwing him some food on earth with the moons gravity, he has time to watch the flight path and adjust his position to catch the morsel each time (well mostly, he’s getting old now).
So do dogs operate within different space-time, do dogs have a consciousness that is intrinsically somehow linked to our own and is there such thing as a doggy heaven? Maybe, just maybe there is…