Waves Like A Small Puppy
by DAN CARVILLE
The idea that animals think like human beings, she said, is more insulting to animals than a credit to them.
I said, “I never stated a dog thought like a human, only that they sometimes act like one.”
She asked me to explain how a dog acted like a human without listing characteristics that are common to every living thing to provide my point.
I said that there was a dog who could identify a bunch of toys by what words its master said.
“What the hell, Dan. You watch 60 Minutes?” she said. She skipped rocks, but unlike anyone I had ever seen before, she went to get the ones she had thrown. I explained that dogs did the same thing.
She said that she did that because of erosion, and dogs did not know what erosion was, so she and Toby could not be thinking the same.
I said, “I think what goes on in his brain is a series of impulses, and his behavior comes from how those impulses bounce off the things he is told to do.” I was waving my hands around a lot as I said this.
“You’re describing yourself,” she said. She did a little dance and boarded the tug boat that takes you to some shopping. A man onboard got seasick and had to be let off at a dock where a dock said, “TAKE THE SEA. LEAVE THE OLD MAN.”
I put my arm around her but it felt odd, given the movement of the boat, so I put Toby in her lap and tried to remain calm.
“I don’t understand why every one thing,” she said, “has to be like something else. Why must a dog be like a man? I don’t want him to be.”
I said that comparing what we do know with what we don’t is a starting point. At this point nausea filled my stomach, like bubbles were pinging against the wall of my insides, trying to make a sound, any sound at all.
I managed, “It appears like you just don’t like people who anthropomorphize their pets. That’s a very strange pet peeve. By the way, I think I am going to be sick.”
She said that I should choose an object in the distance to focus my vision on, and try to keep my gaze level while I looked at it. I nodded. “I also cured the hiccups,” she said.
“No you didn’t,” I said. “How?”
“You only have to replace one involuntary behavior with another. Whenever I get them, I go right to the toilet.”
Back at the marina, I was feeling better. I bought Toby a rawhide bone shaped like a dolphin. He rolled on it.
Dan Carville is the senior contributor to This Recording. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here.
Photographs by the author.
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