Today was our introduction to Beginners obedience. No dogs; our trainer just went over the concepts/purpose/schedule and gave us our first week’s homework. Along the way, she stated that “dogs don’t love”. In other words, she believes that dogs don’t have human emotions as we see it and that they operate on “what behaviour will get me what I want”.
When I was in the sixth grade, I had a teacher who insisted that dogs were stupid and that if he fed and was kind to my dog, Buddy, that Buddy would follow him around just like me. When I disagreed, he sneered “Don’t be naive!” By the way, Mr. Prentice, it’s been nineteen years and I hope you are or will be in a nursing home somewhere, being indifferently cared for by light-fingered nurses.
For me, the idea that dogs can’t love like humans is rather painful but makes sense. Kind of like my attitude towards higher powers, an afterlife and the supernatural – it would be really cool if it did exist and I really wish it did, but I really don’t have any evidence that it does. Then I get depressed, wondering why I keep a dog, especially a Shiba, who probably wouldn’t fake giving a shit even if he could.
One issue is that people need for things in their lives to have meaning. We can’t just accept the fact that a dog may not care about us the way we care about him/her. We have to have some perceived return on the investment that we make in loving our dogs. Which, for a Shiba owner, can be very, very difficult when the dog is throwing a full-scale temper tantrum at the mere hint of attaching a leash to his collar. Or ignoring you after you walk in the door without a slab of beefsteak in one hand.
I have come to the conclusion that Shassi and Tierce probably don’t remotely give a shit about me like I do about them. They would happily go on with their lives as long as they ate, got walked, slept (Shassi) and occasionally (Tierce) had a toy to chew on.
Should it matter whether a dog loves you? It is a human choice to bring in another animal to the family circle and it has to be a human realization that the animal won’t value what humans do. I believe that you can (and should) teach your Shiba to respect the things you wish them to respect, but expecting them to value you like you value them is unreasonable.
But it would be nice if it was true.