FROM DOGS TO ITCHES

“America shudders at anything alien, and when it wants to shut its mind against any man’s ideas it calls him a foreigner.” Max Lerner, Actions and Passions, 1949

Given the state of our country these days I thought I might send out a draft I wrote a few years ago that might be appropriate for the times.

Is it possible we may be hard-wired to bond profoundly with strangers of another species? While listening to a favorite Bluegrass song and feeling good driving home through my neighborhood I spotted a young dog sitting by the curb checking out every passing vehicle. I wasn’t sure what he was looking for but I smiled and waved vigorously at him. He wagged his tail, and I swear he seemed to have grinned. Can hounds do that? Then he jumped off the curb and began chasing my car. True story! When I turned into my driveway after a mile or so and stopped he jumped up on my car door panting but jubilant and licked my face. Now that has to be an innate trait don’t you think? We were complete strangers; he was young and probably didn’t know any better or possibly his guardians hadn’t warned him against bonding with unfamiliar motorists.

I took him home and turned him over to his owner. The mutt actually appeared sad. Maybe I just wanted him to feel sorrowful. I doubt if he will try to catch me driving by again because he would likely be too embarrassed after having exposed his true feelings with total abandon. But I’ll bet after a time he couldn’t wait after experiencing our personal moments to pursue another single encounter unless of course his owners decided to keep him safe by locking him up in the back yard.

What would happen if we unleashed our kids and pets to bond indiscriminately? Would that be just plain nuts? If we are built to love that way and it’s mostly instinctual then we shouldn’t be preventing our offspring and pooches from connecting deeply with outsiders. We will have to find a way to set free their unconditional compassion for the good of the order and we’ve obviously not done a good job in doing so. We have to be cautious but perhaps we have overplayed the stranger/danger warnings.

What about running deep with a unique species that hangs around Washington D.C? After coming across an article on how polarized and angry our congressional members have become I began to imagine a bunch of them suddenly making fools of themselves by chasing their adversaries out the Capitol doors after a heated session while smiling, wagging their tails and managing to lick their counterparts faces. They might button-hole a political foe on the front steps, invite her or him to lunch where both parties risk running deep by divulging their private and personal fears, anger, pains, compassion, dreams and sexual…well, maybe they should stop there, and finally promise to never meet again. It remains a two-hour bond, one-and-only private personal encapsulated treat! The following week they may be itching to sniff out another colleague and make it a point to continue to escape from their own backyards whenever possible.

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