The Power of the Dog
Don't bother filling me in, I could care less and don't have the foggiest notion why this is even news. Well, at least not where it concerns Miss Degeneres. Perhaps it's news because it concerns Man's Best Friend.
Folks, we did good when we made dogs.
I said that once to a young lady who replied indignantly, "Steve, God made dogs!"
Nope, God (or evolution or Blind Chance or whatever floats your boat) made wolves. We modified them by selective breeding into the various breeds of dogs. They are mankind's first genetically modified animal species. (Cat's aren't really, they're a feral species that moved in with us and allowed us to stay - on condition of good behavior and keeping the chow coming.)
And what modification! We took wolves and changed them to protect our flocks and herds from the predation of other wolves. We taught them to hunt and retreive and not wolf down the prey before we take our share. We even made them into companions and bodyguards for our children!
But did you ever lie down next to a dog and look in its mouth when it yawned? At that moment, when you look at those teeth, you realize "Oh my, this really is a carnivore."
We are so used to our symbiosis with dogs that we don't even think about it most of the time. I only noticed it when a Chinese couple who had had no contact with dogs in their lives marveled at this.
Sometimes I wonder if mankind learned loyalty from dogs.
Case in point:
I knew a Norwegian woman who had a small dog, not even one of the bigger, more intelligent breeds such as the German Shepard (generally acknowledged to be the smartest.)
One day she was walking her dog down a country road and was hit by a drunk driver, who promptly drove off. She was literally knocked through the air into the wood where she couldn't be seen from the road.
She awoke two weeks later in the hospital, and was told how she came to be there.
Her dog it seems, had planted himself in the middle of the road right in the path of the next car to pass. The driver stopped and couldn't get around the dog. Ultimately he had to get out and try to shoo the dog away from the road. Her dog then bit down on his pant leg and tugged him over to where he could see the unconscious woman.
Of course, this saved her life. (And by the way, the drunken hit-and-run driver was caught. I love a happy ending.)
Case in point 2:
Friends of mine in Oklahoma City had two Dobermans, a big male named Fritz and a much smaller female.
One night when Mike was out of the house, there was a fire. His wife Donna had to jump out of a second floor window to get out, suffered some fairly serious burns and two broken legs.
After seeing to his wife in the hospital, Mike went back to the house, which the firemen had blocked off while making sure the fire was completely out.
Mike pleaded with the senior fireman on site, "Listen, I know my dogs are dead. Please let me in so I can take them out and bury them."
At that point a fireman came out and said, "I may be crazy, but I just saw something moving in there."
Turned out the female was found under the kitchen sink with her nose pressed against a crack in the wall that let her breathe outside air. Fritz had covered her with his body and not moved. Fritz was dead, the female was alive and didn't have a mark on her.
I visited them before going off on a year-long camping trip to Mexico and parts West, but I told them that when I got back I'd recite Rudyard Kipling's "The Power of the Dog" to them and they'd cry.
So when I got back, I did and they did.
There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie-
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart for a dog to tear.
When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet's unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers and loaded guns
Then you will find - it's your own affair-
But... you've given your heart to a dog to tear.
When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!).
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone - wherever it goes - for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart to a dog to tear.
We've sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we've kept 'em, the more do we grieve.
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-time loan is as bad as a long -
So why in - Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?