Simple minded creatures in a complex world
I was watching Brandon Fouche the other day on his youtube channel and he said that "dogs are simple minded beings who are capable of performing complex tasks". After a few weeks of running over this one phrase and attempting to make sense of it on a deeper level, I came up with the following statement. "Dog's are simple minded creatures that are capable of existing in a complex world". Some people would probably get offended at this statement and others would be curious to know why I would say this. Well, I will do my best to explain it to you.
First we must try to understand what "simple minded creatures", means. To me it means that dogs primarily exist in the present moment, and it is in the present moment that they think. Due to the nature of this fact alone, they must be simple minded. Think of a Buddhist monk, who strives to be in the present moment, they are simple minded. Dogs are not very different. They exist in a way that is beyond the reaches of conventional human language. By language I do not mean just the words that we speak to them, I mean everything that we humans typically communicate with.
To a dog; time, money, street signs, warning labels, furniture, skateboards, and even the clothes we wear do not mean anything. This is largely the reason why we love them so much, because they just don't care or seem to notice all of these little things that we as humans must constantly understand. For me at least, I love it that my dog doesn't care what I am wearing or what conversation I had with the neighbor five minutes ago, or how much I spend on dog food everymonth. But what if our dog began to attempt to understand this world? The truth is, they can't.
The dog can only understand the relationship to the world that has been taught to them. They cannot understand it on their own. They will never, like a human be able to take a step back and put all the pieces to the puzzle down on the floor and piece it all together, but they will die trying. When we have a great dog, and we take them everywhere, there is one thing we will notice, they don't notice everything. These dogs that are "perfectly" behaved on and off leash simply don't focus on most of the world. Instead they have very clear things they follow to make the right decisions. It may be the smells on the same walk that they take every day, maybe it is even the smell of the people they meet during their life. They smell the dogs or watch them and decide whether or not they wish to interact with a dog. They even smell us and observe our body language to know what the right thing is to do.
But what if they got overwhelemed and lost their way. What if every sound and every smell and every word spoken by a random stranger walking by was something they focused on. If they thought every word we spoke or every meal we ate or walk we went on or dog we saw or person we passed by was supposed to be focused on, they might go crazy. It sounds crazy to say it, but just think about a dog. It is a simple minded creature, almost like a buddhist monk. It is just struggling to get through the day with all of our electronics and cars and noise and stimulation. It is just doing its best to maintain that inner balance that comes from being at peace in the present moment. Imagine bringing a Buddhist monk with us on our daily routine, would they be able to maintain their inner peace? They might, its true, if we simply let them be themselves. If we simply only bothered them or excited them when it was absolutely necessary.
What if, however, we talked to them incessently or asked them constantly what they thought about things. What if we told them "look over there" and "pay attention to this". If we walked them down the street we introduced them to every stranger we met walking down the street, would they still be at peace? If when they seemed nervous or stressed out we just kept talking to them, would they return to peace? If they were content to eat their simple daily meal and we started sharing with them every flavor we could come across, would they still be content with their old food? What if when we walked we were always in a rush to go somewhere or get something and we never just stopped to exist and breathe, would they still want to hang out with us? I don't think so, and this is why monks live in monastaries, because this world is very complicated and stressful, and intense at times. Now imagine your dog was a monk.
Your dog may not be excited all the time when something happens, and that may be good. Your dog may be happy just to lay around on the floor most of the day in doggie "meditation", and that's ok. Your dog may need the structure of a daily routine and a clear beginning and ending to all the things it does, just like they have at a monastary. Maybe your dog needs time to just "be", and that making this time for your dog may actually help them understand the world more. Its even possible that your dog doesn't need you to talk to it all the time, maybe it is talkig back, but you simply are not listening. When I walk all my dogs down the street they are focused on one thing and one thing only, going on a walk with me. If we see another dog, a person, a garbageman, a fire truck with horns blaring, or even a pile of chicken bones on the ground, they usually pay it no attention. They aren't bored, or "shut down", or "sad", or "afraid" of the world, they are at peace.
They are simple minded creatures, and the world is complicated. It is our job as pet owners to let our dogs remain simple minded. It is our job to show them that the reason we have them is because they don't need to worry about all of this stuff we have to worry about. The reason we walk them is to help us get more into the present moment in a balanced state of mind. Dogs are the best teachers when it comes to living a simple life in this crazy world we live in today. They show us that the people we spend our time with and the memories we share, are the most important thing. So the next time you are hanging out with your dog and finding yourself wondering "what are we going to do today?", remember to keep it simple; your dog will thank you.