Today’s post comes from Trail Baboon’s Living and Loving Correspondent B. Marty Barry. He’s a bottomless well of wellness!
Yes, it’s my life’s work to be there for people when they need to talk.
And once we get past the preliminaries and start to explore hidden areas that are truly and deeply painful, my clients will ask me why their children are not as sociable as their dogs.
There is a great deal of guilt and anguish here, because people just naturally feel responsible for how their kids turn out. They believe that it should be more pleasant to hang out with Timmy or Susie than it is to spend the afternoon sitting by the fire with Sparky.
After all, children have the ability to speak an understandable language and hold conversations. They can tell stories and jokes. They’ve got the higher brain functions to enjoy and create art. There are all sorts of enjoyable pastimes that are family-friendly.
Meanwhile, dogs shed, have bad breath, and poop in the yard.
It should be no contest!
My clients feel terrible about preferring their dogs to their kids. When I ask them to tell me more, I usually hear that the children are sullen and self-absorbed. They barely speak and only interact with their electronic devices. And they almost never make eye contact with another person, especially not their parents.
The dogs, on the other hand, are enthusiastic and playful, unless you’ don’t want to play. If that’s the case, then they’re patient and attentive, but quiet. And eye contact is a canine specialty – they do it constantly, with intensity and love. Unless you’re holding a treat, in which case they watch you with joy and anticipation. But dogs are always totally OK with whatever you want to do.
Once I get them talking along these lines, people eventually realize they are unfairly judging the children because no human can compete with a good dog for sociability.
I always take note of the children’s names. Someday they may need to talk deeply about how they resented Brandy’s easygoing relationship with mom and dad.
And now academia has decided to address dog cognition. Look at these programs!
- Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College,
- Duke Canine Cognition Center
- Canine Cognition Center at Yale
- Illinois Wesleyan University Dog Scientists
- The Department of Developmental and Comparative Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.
What this means is that now those same sullen, uncommunicative children who were less engaging than Fido can someday leave home, go off to school, and run up $300,000 in college debt watching a dog, which is basically the same thing you did, for free, while they were away.
But if this scientific research bears fruit and we are better able to understand the level of awareness of dogs, maybe it will open up a whole new range of opportunities for people like me. Getting dogs to talk would be a world-changer. After all, I can only guess the emotional toll it takes on old Buster to know that he is, and always will be, the favored child.
Who was your parents’ favorite?