There is a growling at my feet – and it means business.
Scientists have long wondered why man and dogs developed such an intertwined relationship. Each is perfectly capable of living without the other, but for some reason of nature, each is drawn to the other like no others in the animal kingdom.
From a purely logical sense, there is no good reason for humans to invest in relationships with an animal whose original relationship – be it for hunting or protection from other wild animals – long expired. Our food source is rarely further than the nearest shopping center or protection is provided by a deadbolt or security system. We are both capable of surviving on our own.
But nevertheless, we still inexorably need each other.
Somewhere, buried deep in the DNA of each, is a kinship of love, respect, and codependency. Talk to a dog owner and you’ll discover they share an emotional connection with their dog on a level not too far removed for their human family. To most, there are pets and then there are there dogs – the latter viewed emotionally more like family.
We’ve had a four-legged family member running around our home since the before our kids were born. And if you were to ask them, each of our children never had a better friend than of the four-legged variety. Always there for them, whether for the kids to grab onto their coats and learn to walk alongside them or for the dog to lick the tears from their faces after they’d fallen. The love and comfort our children experienced with this special someone at their side could never be measured in dollars and cents.
But we’re not alone. More than once I’ve visited cities only to notice it is not unusual to find a homeless person – someone without a roof over their head or knowing where their next meal is coming from – paired with a dog. Yes, I realize the relationship is based partly on the needs of security or food, but there is still an emotional dependency for each.
Once in Florida I watched as one man, after gather the remains from a red and white chicken box in a nearby trash can, bent over and made sure his dog had a cup of water and food before the man ever took his first bite. To this day, that singular moment still stirs emotions inside of me – the selflessness of one to another.
Which brings me to the growling at my feet. Our dog, a sheepdog, is of the herding family and fiercely protective of his family. Never more than a few steps away or perched in a position so he can keep an eye on us, just the sound of a truck driving by our home for a growl to instinctively originate deep inside of him and eventually burst into the room. Thousands of years after man and dog first came together, the DNA of our special relationship continues to be rooted in a special arrangement of taking care of each other.
So when you hear of someone referring to their dog as a member of their family, understand this statement not supposed to withstand the bright light of scientific logic. But to those of us who’ve lived with such a special arrangement, we’re just following the instincts of our DNA.