What Dogs Have to Teach Us

“Hmmm. Smells like poop. I think I’ll roll in it. ”

“Oh. I love fresh toilet bowl water. ”

“I think I’ll chew up this shoe. Even though master seems mad when I do this, I bet this time it’s ok. ”

Do dogs have anything to teach us, these friendly, slobbering fur balls of energy?

I actually think that they do. Dogs have complete humility. They also have unconditional love, uncontrollable joy and no seeming filter. But I think it is their humility that we humans could learn the most from. A dog will cock its head and raise its ears as if to say “hey, I have no idea what’s about to happen if I pounce on this frog but I’m gonna find out”.

You see, we humans are arrogant. We think we’ve got things figured out, even though we seem to keep learning or relearning life’s lessons. Obviously, if we had everything figured out, we would never have the quiet embarrassment of realizing that we had just figured something out, often after years of seeing it another way. Einstein’s definition of insanity was a commentary on human behavior. We keep trying to do things the same way expecting different results.

Dogs are crazy but they are not insane. They may learn their lessons only after repeated efforts but they are not hindered by their insistence that they must have things figured out and that they have to be a certain way.

Have you ever observed a dog trying to figure something out? Breaking out of a kennel, perhaps? The dog will try a lot of different things. Many attempts are foolish in nature but when the dog realizes that something won’t work, it tries another tactic. Dogs don’t insist that they know what they’re doing. They just try something else. “Well, hey, if I jump up at this latch and hit it right, this door will open. Beats trying to dig through concrete”.

Humans are different. We are prone to arrogance rather than humility. The Internet is full of folks stridently reporting their same wisdom in the comments section. We are sure we are right. If I just post the same comment again or try another discussion board, surely someone will eventually agree with me, thus validating my poorly conceived view point that is based on pure fact-less conjecture in the first place. After all, I just know I’m right!

We prattle on about presidential birth certificates and gas price fixing with the certainty of zealots. We just know that those referees are blind and probably biased because my kid couldn’t possibly have traveled with the basketball. We are sure that our angst and anger are justified over the smallest of perceived slights. We know who the quarterback of our favorite football team ought to be even though we are not professional coaches, we’ve looked at no film and have attended no practices. We have democrats and republicans and they both have the answers as far as they know.

Some are convinced that the State will wither away when the workers control the means of their production. Terrorists are convinced that yet another suicide bombing attempt will cause the Great Satan to remove the prostitutes from the holy temple while promising unlimited virgin availability in the great beyond. I am convinced that I know how to grow apples.

Dogs are convinced of nothing because they don’t feel the need to be right about anything. This doesn’t mean a dog doesn’t have ideas. It just means that a dog attaches no pride to its ideas. If a better solution presents itself, the dog will gladly follow that path. It doesn’t matter to the dog who came up with the idea.

That’s why dogs can be trained quite easily and humans can’t, in spite of the dog having a smaller brain. Yes, humans can learn but we can’t be easily trained. Our arrogance won’t allow for that. A little dose of humility would solve the whole problem.

Copyright 2013 Daniel Blake


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