What Dogs say about their Human Pets
When I’m in Central Park it’s inevitable to find myself observing the antiques of dogs and their human pets. I’ve observed that there are 5 types of Dog-Human Partnerships. I’ve also noticed that these styles of interacting reveals more about the human than the dog… much more than appears at first glance.
There are humans who take great care of their dogs. They groom and clean them, feed and pamper them and they walk them proudly at their side. They let the world know their pedigree through their dogs. I suspect that they may do the same with their family, friends and possessions. These dogs look great: strong, beautiful and proud. Are they happy? That’s an entirely different manner. What I’ve observed is that they, as their human pets, don’t actually play. They parade.
There are humans who have a genuine conversation and relationship with their dogs. The dog is another member of the family. Perhaps they’ve learned dog language through dog training— but I feel it’s more than that. These humans are receptive to their dog’s needs. They don’t yank the chain to take the dog where they want to go, but instead allow the dog to choose where it wants to go. They understand their dog’s personality, likes and dislikes. They love their dog just as it is and therefore relate to it gracefully, joyfully and naturally. I suspect that these humans do the same with other people. These are genuinely caring, healthy, loving humans who have a healthy dog-human relationship.
There are humans who lay all their needs to control upon their dogs. The poor dogs can’t take two steps without their human pets yanking their chain, screaming at the animal, scolding them or even spanking them because they are not doing exactly what the human wants and how they want it. They are bent on showing the dog how a good dog should be and act. I bet that they treat themselves and others in the same rigid, unloving, judgmental fashion.
There are those humans who indulge their dog and let it run wild, climbing onto bystanders and even biting other people. Their dog can do no harm, as far as they are concerned. I bet their child probably does no harm either, even when he may be bullying others at school. Anything or anyone that is part of these people’s identity is spotless. Others are always to blame. That way they don’t have to look at themselves. These are people who fear taking a stand and exerting their authority or who have not learned to own the consequence of their actions. They are avoiders, deniers and blamers.
Finally, there is a type of dog-human partnership that is difficult to describe because it has two sides. Light and darkness flip through this partnership in complex ways.
There are humans whose dogs are damaged in some sorrowful, deep way. I’m not talking about a lame dog here. I’m talking about dogs that do not play or run; dogs that cannot connect to people or to other dogs. These dogs have been abandoned, maimed or traumatized by previous owners. Their current human pets have adopted them, feeling better for it.
On the light side, this is a compassionate thing to do, and the humans do love these animals and take good care of them.
On the dark side, these humans —often without knowing it— may need this animal to stay sick. They may have chosen the animal because of its state; not necessarily to heal it, but because they need the animal to need them.
In this case, the animal will sense this and comply. It will not heal. It will not thrive. It will stay in its state to comfort their human pets in their own sense of deficiency.
The dogs stay sick and the owners take care of them solicitously, feeling better for loving the animal. But is this love?
From the animal’s part, it is an enabling love for the human. From the human part, their love is tainted with their Caretaking Shadow: the need to control others through caring for them from a place of need. Why would these humans do this?
- As a way not to care for themselves by focusing on others, so that they feel good about themselves and have the excuse that the dog takes all their time and energy, so they can’t do whatever they are avoiding to do or be.
- As a way to avoid focusing on what they need to heal in themselves or
- As a way of alleviating their own sense of deficiency. In this case the dog is a mirror of the Self, but the human takes care of the dog as a way of taking care of the Self without having to face unpleasant truths or do the tough transformation work.
Have you observed any other type of dog-human partnerships that can teach us about the way we live? Please share them in the comments below.