“I aspire to be the person my dog thinks I am.”
I don’t recall when I first heard this expression, and no one seems to know where it originated, but it’s spreading like kudzu through the dog world. Lately, I can’t seem to go a day without seeing it. Granted, I may be spending too much time browsing dog blogs and sites like Life with Dogs. But after coming across the expression for the umpteenth time yesterday, I stopped to think about what it really means. What kind of person does my dog think I am, and should his opinion guide my life goals?
If you ask Eddie, he might describe as a benign dictator. I am, variously: the person who feeds him (the same dry meal every day); the person who walks him (and urges him to “hurry up” when he lingers too long sniffing a single blade of grass); the person who won’t let him bring sticks and bits of mulch into the house (but who can be conned into giving him a treat in exchange); and the person who sometimes presents him with a juicy marrow bone after dinner (but who other times ignores his persistent begging for same). He would also want you to know that I’m the person who makes him take a bath when he’s muddy and who scratches his ears when he cuddles up next to me on the sofa (no pain, no gain). In Eddie’s very small universe, I may be the sun, moon and stars, but, let’s face it: I am not perfect, even in my dog’s adoring eyes.
Fortunately, our dogs don’t demand perfection. Even when we aren’t our best selves, we can always count on them to reward us with the unconditional love we crave. Did Mitt Romney’s dog think any worse of him after riding to Canada on the roof of the family station wagon? Probably not. Did Martha Stewart’s dogs love her any less when she was convicted of insider trading? I doubt it. If Bernie Madoff had a dog, do you think she would have shunned her master when his massive Ponzi scheme was revealed? Highly unlikely.
See where I’m headed with this? Our dogs couldn’t care less what kind of people we are. They forgive us all manner of sins, gladly giving us second (even third, fourth, fifth and more) chances we don’t deserve. To please our dogs we don’t have to aspire to be perfect, just good enough.
So, if our dogs will love us no matter what, isn’t this ubiquitous expression setting the aspirational bar too low? Instead, how about we aspire to be as good to each other as our dogs are to us?
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