10/30/2022 06:21

Ferociously Fearful Doggy Desires

Alek Dog wants to play with other dogs unless there is another dog close. He gets excited to see a dog across the street or down the block. He wags his tail and whines and looks and looks wishing they could be together to play. Unless the other dog actually comes near. In that case Alek will bare his teeth and growl and may even snap or lunge.

I am pretty sure Alek Dog is afraid of what he wants. This is something he developed when entering adulthood. (He went to the dog park and the dog day camp when he was younger and had a good time with other dogs.) It is a puzzle what happened in his brain to bring on this change and I am only partially mollified by the knowledge that other dogs have had the same experience (including one belonging to the owner of the daycare business).

Puzzle though it is I can identify. I woke up just this morning casting about for some human sociality to fill my desire to be with other people: a class at church? a book group at the library? a program from the aging resource center? With every idea that floated into my half awake mind I grew tense with the anticipation of how I would feel in any of those settings. The least fearsome is the class at church provided it is a true study group and not using the study just as a guise for that sociality which I woke up wanting.

Like ALek Dog I really want some social time unless it involves having other people close to me. Alek and I are internally inconsistent. In actual reality everybody is inconsistent. Some are inconsistent politically; they advocate for equality and vote for special interests (usually their own). Or they may support government regulation of my behavior and oppose interference with activities they enjoy. They may drive for miles to join a climate protest. But Alek and I seem to have stumbled on a particularly fundamental sort of inconsistency.

Having a dog who shares this disability is pernicious in another way as well in that it prevents me from socializing vicariously through canine play. Living vicariously enables the denial of many weaknesses and should be made the topic of another essay.