I’ve almost never been without a dog in my adult life (and those few months were pretty grim).
Dogs are easily my favorite kind of non-humans.
This is perhaps not all that surprising: humans have lived in something of a symbiotic relationship with dogs since prehistory, and our two species have been cohabiting and co-evolving, literally for millennia (since the Neolithic).
There’s actually a pretty good case to be made that, without our dogs co-evolving with us to guard us and help us hunt, haul our stuff, and keep our livestock in line, we humans might not be as successful a species as we are. Indeed, from that perspective people who don’t like dogs really seem kind of ungrateful, don’t they?
There’s also a contemporary debate, among humans who DO value dogs, over whether they should be made to work or not.
Some people say that dogs with jobs–even dangerous jobs, such as sniffing out IEDs in Afghanistan–are happier and more fulfilled than dogs whose existence is mostly occupied with eating or sleeping.
No, the natural capabilities of dogs, and their basic nature–combined, I am convinced, with the bonds that develop between individual humans and the individual canines who live with them–led the members of both species to stumble, together, onto the idea of the dogs doing these jobs.
I guess you can tell I place myself into the category that thinks dogs benefit from having a mission in life. And now, if you’ll excuse me, my personal trainer Jake (the tan-and-white IG in the front of the top photo) tells me it’s time for a walk (of course, he’s just doing his job . . . ).
Do you have any “working dog” stories to share? please put them in the “Comments” section below!
IMAGES: Many thanks to my daughter Signy for the photo of me in my favorite recliner with four Italian Greyhounds. Many thanks to National Geographic and cartoonist Tony Hall, for the “campfire moochers” image. Many thanks to the HumorHub Subreddit, for the “Wolves Once” image, to Pete Somers’ Pinterest Board for the “holstered attack dogs,” to Stamp Right Up’s Pinterest Board for the “bored so took up scrapbooking” meme, and to Dog Medicine Info, for the photo of the bored dog. Thank you to Darwin Dogs for the “Shepherd/Sheepdog Conspiracy” image, to Boredom Kicker’s Pinterest Board for the unworried kid with three German Shepherds, and to Payton Phillips’ Pinterest Board for photo of the Gizmo-snuggling terrorist-hunter. It’s been a pleasure finding these images, and I greatly appreciate their creators!