Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 06/22/2020
Bentley, our German Shepherd, loves to chase anything that moves. I believe the trait is called “predatory drift.” But he never kills anything, even the dumb ducks that always start running too late (our white ducks can’t fly). Most animals elude him or keep a safe distance.
Our prior Shepherd, Koufax, had 16 confirmed kills in six different species, from possums to skunks, geese to frogs. He was the only dog I ever saw that could consistently catch squirrels. After about two years of frustration, he learned to run between the squirrel and the nearest tree, sort of a Wayne Gretzky “skate to where the puck will be” tactic. It worked. Koufax ate nothing that he caught, he was simply engaged in the hunt, that’s how he was teleologically wired.
Bentley will play fetch with anything and anyone, and he has his own stash of sticks he accesses for guests and drops one on their shoes to start the game. Koufax would watch you throw something and wonder who was going to go get it, because it wasn’t going to be him.
There are generic dog traits, such as using scent to track or the ability to be domesticated. There are breed traits, such as Shepherds being “working dogs” which prefer to have routines and which need a lot of exercise. Then there are individual dog traits, which are unique to that animal.
I’ve engaged in these observations to remind you that we all look similar as humans, but we have cultural characteristics and specific characteristics. To label us by generation, or ethnicity, or gender, or race, or physical abilities and, thus, dismiss us as a group is a huge error. It doesn’t make understanding each other easier, it makes it impossible.
That’s why I can love dogs, and even breeds, but I love each dog for who it is. And thus my parable draws to a close.
If the misery of our poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.—Charles Darwin
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