Follow Your Dog

Dogs bark insistently, alarmingly, irritatingly and playfully, to name just a few of the many ways in which they bark. Some people argue that all barking is irritating. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the dog's intention, why it barks. Dogs only occasionally bark to be irritating.

Cats, too, can be irritating on purpose. Mine will start sharpening its claws on the sofa even though I am sitting right there. The cat knows it should not do this. The cat knows I will hiss at it to stop, or yell at it, or jump up in anger to show him exactly who is boss. That's just what the cat wants. I always oblige.

In the same way, dogs sometimes want their barking to be irritating. They want everyone to experience their angst. That's what a dog was doing today as I walked in Sherwood Forest. You could tell it was just being irritating. I pitied its neighbors.

But what was it saying exactly? I could not tell. But I knew someone who could tell, my neighbor, Jack, who knows everything. Jack didn't even need to hear the dog to know what it was saying.

"The dog was saying to its master, 'I want to live in the country and so do you. Let's move!' " Jack went on to say that people should follow their dogs.

That, of course, sounded like the basis of a bumper-sticker philosophy: FOLLOW YOUR DOG. If every dog owner followed this advice, their lives would be happier, their dogs would be delighted, and those of us left behind would think better of dog owners everywhere.

In some ways this sounds more practical than the philosophy that says "Follow Your Bliss." People who follow their bliss pursue unrealistic goals and abandon their families to become leather-faced, sun-burnt shells of themselves, mumbling incomprehensible mantras in the middle of some wilderness. Some, God bless them, become writers of essays. Dogs, unlike people, are not so easily misled and do not so easily go astray. They are in touch with their instincts. They can smell things. They know where the bones are buried.

If you have a dog, follow it!

Click here to purchase the above bumper sticker.


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Copyright 2005 Danny N. Schweers