I generally try to keep this blog somewhat professional, and other than the weekly entry on food, most entries deal with academic or historical issues in some way. But today is a special day at home, for today is my dog's 7th birthday. While dogs age at different rates — larger dogs age faster than smaller ones — the age of 7 is generally reckoned the beginning of a dog's senior years.
Today's milestone has me thinking back to all the experiences we've shared over the years. My dog has had his fair share of accomplishments in American Kennel Club events, though I'm aware they mean nothing to him. I suspect he views his main accomplishment as taking over the living-room sofa, which for the first two years of his life he was expressly prohibited from lying on.
And while some observers look for the "wolf within" our dogs, I have a different view. Dogs are not wolves, and they don't view us as "substitute" companions when other canines aren't available. Dogs — even those living with other dogs — generally seek out human companionship, for a dog's life isn't complete without it. And so, too, I would argue, dogs aren't "substitute" companions for humans, either. Dogs make us complete humans, and better humans, by their presence in our lives.
One can mention the examples of loyalty and non-judgmental love that dogs show, but just their presence reminds us that we're not alone, and keeps us humans from being too selfish and self-centered. So as my dog enters his senior years, I am grateful for the time we've spent together, and for making me a better human being in the process.
• A special birthday (3 March 2015)
• Intensive summer school in Breton language, culture (1 March 2015)
• Food on Friday: Berry berry pessimistic (27 February 2015)
• Drug use at Wesleyan (26 February 2015)
• Sir Malcolm Rifkind (25 February 2015)