Leashes! …the odd nature of love…
How often do I hear humans – humans who aren’t dog-lovers I should add – talk trash about how stupid we dogs are when we get wildly excited at the sight of a leash. “You see? Dogs are so dumb, they’re happy to see that thing that’s going to tie them up and hold them back. They don’t have real self-respect at all.”
What a bunch of hooey!
Now sure, when we’re young, and first getting trained on leashes, we fight them like crazy. We’ll pull on them till we nearly collapse from choking, we’ll bite and paw at them. And, embarrassing as it is to admit, we’ll have tantrums as bad as any two-year-old human, where we roll around on our backs, screaming as though that leash were torturing and killing us.
Sure we do that. It’s part of growing up. We have to rebel, just like human kids, to test our limits – to see if there’s anything we can get away with. (And just as with human kids, we usually find that there’s a lot we can!)
But once we’ve gotten through that, and especially once we’ve gotten trained well enough that being walked doesn’t mean we’re constantly being yelled at or jerked… leashes become something we absolutely love! Leashes mean walks around the neighborhood, so we can smell all the things we’ve been curious about since we were last there. Or they mean trips to other places, for nature hikes or fun restaurants where we can sit under the table and catch food when you guys clumsily (or kindly on purpose) drop it onto the ground. Or they could mean any other number of things – going to friends’ houses for play dates, going on a real vacation where we drive for days (or fly, though I’ve never done that). Really, they mean two things – Getting Outside of Where We’re Locked In – and Being There With Someone!
Don’t get me wrong, I love hanging out with Handsome in our home. And I love sniffing around by myself. But how much more fun it is if he takes me on a trip – whether to the mountains or the beach, or just a hamburger stand. We pups spend so much time alone at home (and that’s if we’re the lucky kind who live with nice owners, instead of at a shelter or in a lab), so it’s always a treat to get to be out with others. Even a trip to the veterinarian (which makes me shudder) is more interesting than just hanging out next to the couch.
Now this much is absolutely true. But I’m really writing this because of something else those stupid comments from people make me think about. Which is: you aren’t all that different from us! Humans have lots of leashes, and absolutely love them. How many of you wake up in the morning and instantly check your email, or your mobile phone? Sure, you could have a more relaxed, pleasant morning. But you are tied to other people, and want to connect to them – and be at least mentally out from your comfortable home – at once. What happens if you leave the house without that phone? Do you feel “oh good, I’m free,” or do you feel disconnected, nervous, almost naked? “What if someone called and I wasn’t there to answer? What if someone needed me? What if that person I’m really into texted to ask me out for tonight?! AUUGGH!!”
And then there’s that other really obvious kind of leash. The kind that humans put on each other’s finger. The kind that says “I am pledged to this one other person, for the rest of my life.” That’s a huge leash! And one that we dogs, with our innate loyalty, relate to fully!
And this is precisely my point. Why do we get excited about leashes? Because we associate leashes with love. Just the way you get excited when your phone buzzes to tell you a text has come in, or your heart skips when someone you really like walks up and asks you for a favor. And just the way you all get all soppy and teary-eyed when you watch two people exchange rings and promise to be each others’ forever.
We’re not stupid, you see. Leashes are just the visible version of the much stronger ties that bind our hearts to yours, every minute of our lives, and beyond.