“All he asks from me is the food to give him strength, All he ever needs is love and that he knows he’ll get.”
-Cat Stevens, “I Love My Dog”
Humans are lame; they’re confusing, full of drama, and contain the ability to be disloyal, a characteristic one hopes never to experience from friends or family members. It has come to the point where our best friends are of another species, and we treat them like people because they act more human than the self-involved social networkers who congest the bandwidth of society. I guess I could have just said, “People like dogs.”
It’s estimated that 70-80 million dogs reside in 37-47% of United States’ households (ASPCA, 2014). That’s about the same amount of legs all combined humans have in the United States, but we have 316 million more pairs of arms. There’s no time to argue these petty differences between canines and humans, it’s not a competition, and if it was, dogs would have the upper paw on how to treat another person, so it’s best we don’t dig deeper into the subject for the sake of embarrassing our own species. Yet, we find excuses like divorce and size of residence to send them to the pound.
Our family dog, Aussie, didn’t apply to the excuses. I purchased Aussie in the late summer of 2000. He was a three-month-old crossbreed, mostly of Australian Sheppard heritage, and was cute as the cutest off all cuties. Wait, let me get back into guy mode here, “He was pretty cool.” My mom didn’t want him from the start, we had recently put down our other dog, Duke, and everyone had already claimed that another canine was not an option (ever). Of course, being a teenage boy, I didn’t care what anyone had to say about anything, so Aussie and I would go to school gatherings and football practice together until the inevitability of too much responsibility for a high school student to deal with became a factor. So, ultimately, my mom and Aussie became best friends.
He had special meaning in our lives because this was around the time of my parents’ divorce, actually before I even knew about it. Aussie was a distraction for my mom, and when I went to college, he moved to Connecticut with her. Whoa, you’re beginning to learn way too much about me (if you would like to know more, please read Driving: An Unofficial Guide, the link is below). He was her best friend and vice versa; all the jogs and walks, new discoveries, photo ops, and nightly broadcasts of the news were done together. It was clear that even though Aussie was originally my dog and became the family dog, he was always mom’s dog. Every time I visited her house through college and now my annual trips home, Aussie greeted me with a smile, a hug, licks, millions of wags, and energetic chases from room to room. This was the case for the last fourteen-plus years, the case until November 15th, 2014.
Aussie passed away. He was an old dog, even for one his size. It’s tough when your canine companion passes away, and we all know we all care more about dogs than people. If that’s the case, why is it when an animal dies in a movie people freak out and become emotional, but then at the same time they can watch an action movie where hundreds of people meet their maker? Independence Day would have been a lot different if that dog didn’t jump into the safe part of the tunnel before the explosion. I think you need to watch that movie again to know what I’m talking about.
A dog is not just a best friend, they’re loved ones, they’re family members, but they’re more similar to man (oh geez, or woman) than one would initially believe. It only took over 30,000 years, but scientists have discovered that dogs and humans respond the same to emotions in the voice, as well as sharing a related social environment, suggesting that canines and people use similar brain mechanisms to process social information (Spencer, 2014). Man (or woman), I sound smart sometimes repeating what others say and research. Whether it’s proven philosophically or scientifically, Aussie will be missed because he was part of the family and loved us as much as we loved him.
ASPCA (2014).Retrieved from https://www.aspca.org/about-us/faq/pet-statistic on December 1 2014
Spencer, B. (2014) Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2557825/Why-dogs-mans-best-friend-Because-similar-BRAINS-Canines-share-voice-region-helps-tune-emotions.html on December 2 2014