This is Bailey, a puppy we adopted just before Christmas, thus naming him George Bailey. He dropped the George because he felt it too cumbersome for such a cute little canine. He was a rescue but truth be told we rescued each other. Two Dark souls who feel like the Universe is against them. The main difference is while Bailey has the youthful energy and exuberance of a child, I have reached a point where energy has been replaced by wisdom. A clever way to describe finally getting it after you’re too old to use it. Either way, it has become my responsibility to raise my puppy as an existentially evolved wolf.
So I have been tasked with teaching this cute little Labee (a term coined by some hipster Millennial with a ManBun describing a mix between a Labrador Retriever and a Beagle) to become an enlightened and existential canine. TBT, he already has a good grasp on some basic existential concepts, such as the importance of the self. He clearly accepts the fact that his self is the center of his universe. Unfortunately he also has a firm grasp on possessions with his sharp teeth and strong jaw. This habit is far more about anarchy than existentialism, but still the insignificance of ownership of material objects is an important facet of understanding existentialism. Like most canines politics are important to the pack mentality. Come to think about it, he views me not as his owner, but more like his Socialist Government who distributes food drink and shelter in return for a modicum of loyalty.
Spending most of his time with his Hippie counter-culture grandpa, a few unusual dog training methods were bound to be instituted. I had to train him to be a canine and also to survive in a humans world. First things being first I had to teach him some basic dog rules. The first rule of the dog world is all about common canine decency. Rule One I had to teach him was never ever, no matter how much undigested food there is in another dogs stool, you don’t eat other dogs shit! His nose sniffs the ground near an opposing canines unpicked up fecal matter like it’s a huge line of cocaine with a bonus at the end. Most trainers offered advice like say “leave it” or “stay away” while tugging gently on his leash. But again, being a Hippie grandpa I choose to use my own commands. I yell “Bong Water” and pull him away. Why? Because if you have ever woken up after an evening of massive bong hits in a mental haze of fog with the driest cotton mouth you’ve ever experienced and accidentally drank the liquid contents in your bong you will understand how ridiculously disgusting “Bong Water” tastes. For me it was one of the most objectionable tastes ever so to say it as my dog is about to partake of something gross it just seemed fitting.
Thing is dogs don’t understand our language, just the words we use. If you constantly say stand when you really want them to sit they won’t stare at you and correct your grammar, they will follow the command according to the words used to train and reinforce the desired result. A sharp loud “Dude” tells Bailey to pay attention to me. The softer “Here Little Dude” lets him know I’m pulling a Milk Bone from my pocket. It’s hard breaking through because Bailey is going through a self awareness crisis, I throw a ball and the Labrador in him chases it while the Beagle in him refuses to give it back. It creates a game of distrust and keep away that perplexes us both. Anyway, time to get back to my Existentialism Canine Training.
It was very difficult to get Bailey to understand the concept of all dogs don’t go to heaven because existentially heaven doesn’t exist for any of us. All the dogs in the neighborhood are counting on this concept but the truth is it’s just a rumor started by a Pitt Bull from down the block. This has made my existential training from the canine philosophical point of view somewhat difficult. To explain his separation from his earthly existence is quite a challenge. His sense of reason seems non existent. I can’t figure out why he does some of the crazy things he does. For instance, he will chew twigs and eat dirt but then stare at me for giving him what he considers to be shit dogfood. And the shit is like mostly chicken, because the first time I bought him food with too much grain in it the young store cashier looked at me like I was a piece of gluten. If eyes could spoil a dinner, I’d have been a meal in the garbage.
So I continue to hope, launching into philosophical dissertations as we walk I express my thoughts about God, existence, and living in a Kafkaesque world. I’m guessing it will take a lot of profound monologues to break down the thousands of years of evolution both our species have experienced aside from having gone through much of it together in a symbiotic relationship. So for now I suppose I’ll just have to be satisfied with repeating quotes from Sartre and Camus, while expressing my deep love of Hermann Hesse works and my affinity for Kierkegaard while we go out on our adventures in the suburban jungle. At least he gives me the courtesy of pretending he gets me…. Live and Love in Peace