Saturday, April 5, 2014

Not a Pencil

Do we own dogs?

I'm no statistician, but I'm willing to hazard a guess and say that the percentage of people who feel they own their dog numbers in the high 90s. It's the way the relationship has been defined since the first person brought a wolf pup into the cave.

I've always owned the dogs in my life too. Until maybe 15 years ago when I realized I wasn't thinking of it that way anymore. I no longer believe one life can own another life.

I mean, our superior brain-mass-to-body-size gives us dominion over our dogs, so we can make them do whatever we want--like try to survive in the bed of a moving pickup truck, for instance. I just can't bring myself to say the phrase "dog owner" anymore. And it doesn't feel like a radical stance to me; I'm not trying to convince anyone else. In fact, I don't know that I've ever voiced the opinion before. I just know in my cells the rightness of it.

I still say "my dog," just as I would want Gracie to call me "her person" if she had the verbal capacity, because we have a committed relationship. But I don't feel like a dog owner. And I don't feel like Gracie's mom (though I love it when people talk about their dogs that way). I feel like someone who is Gracie's special person. I'm her custodian. A custodian who would take a bullet for her.

Okay. Maybe this does sound kind of radical. I understand if you choose not to read my blog anymore.

But here's how I plan to use this thinking today. Somewhere along the line I stopped feeling like a dog owner and became a dog caretaker. There was a moment in my life, or a transitional month in my life, when I went from hating Brussels sprouts to craving them (roasted in a little olive oil until almost black). How do such dramatic life changes come about? I think I'll make myself a list of ways I've changed over the years and be sure I feel the changes are for the better.


  1. I'd take a bullet for my companion, Shya too. I get it. Just because she is a different species doesn't mean we don't have a family bond. I think that is her doing. She offers me balance, I offer her raw beef necks. and all is right with the world!

  2. I think it is a matter of linguistics as much as attitude. One can be a good, care taking owner or a less responsible one. If someone steals another's dog - ubetcha there was an owner done wrong. But the good news is that the ownership is a two way street - with dogs owning part of their people's hearts a right to a good deal of their time.


Be engaged, but be nice.