It’s not something that I am proud of and in fact I try very hard not to be. However, in my experience it’s almost impossible to be human and not be a least a little hypocritical.
For instance, I am one of those people who sometimes get upset when people assign human emotions to body language and facial expression in dogs. Here for example, is my stance on anthropomorphizing guilt in response to the Denver the Guilty Dog video that went viral last year. Yet time after time, my articles relate situations that dogs find themselves in where ask my reader to consider how THEY might feel in similar situations; cognitive dissonance positive.
The complexity of our emotions towards an animal coupled with our knowledge of its behavior is often at odds with one other; such is the case with an article I wrote the other day, Dr. Doolittle is a Fictional Character. The article basically dealt with people who ignore instructions on how they should greet a dog and charge right in despite obvious warnings to the contrary. I’ve often held these people in a kind of disdain; perhaps some deserve it, but some do not.
So to relate my feelings on this, I dip into the hypocritical well of anthropomorphizing yet again and talk about humans and hugging.
I for one have never been a fan of the human hug; I’ve been this way since I was little and have never grown out of it. It makes me feel uncomfortable and if you pressed me, I don’t know if I could say exactly why. Perhaps it was because my mom was (and is) a needy hugger. Perhaps it is because I am very protective of my personal space and get belligerent with those who insist on invading it. However, despite my dislike of it, I accept hugging from some simply because I know it’s something THEY NEED on an emotional level. So if that is the case, then why do I condemn it when people do it to dogs?
There is certainly an enormous emotional attachment between people and animals that can equal or even surpass our human to human emotions. Animals can bring out things in us that humans cannot. For some, interacting with dogs causes a chemical reaction in the brain that leads to cathartic behaviors that would not occur without them. So for some that disregard our instructions when greeting our dogs, their reasons may not stem from simple ignorance or bravado.
Of course the dog’s preferences are not taken into account in this situation and obviously I think they should be. But maybe there is a different way to handle it after all; not to mention the possibility of managing the situation so they never meet in the first place.
Perhaps the next time the situation arises I’ll dip into the well and smother my instruction in a thick, anthropomorphizing sauce. Maybe it will make me feel a bit less hypocritical about something that makes me a hypocrite; but even if it doesn’t, I will have done the right thing by both human and dog.
It’s the weekend, do something fun with your dogs.