There was a dog in my lobby today. A golden retriever. Basically the most classic dog you could imagine in your mind’s eye, if someone were to conjure a ‘dog.’
How ‘dog’ is your dog? How ‘fill in the blank’ are you, if you fill in the blank with whatever labels and categories and descriptors seem to apply? How strongly are you just like someone or something else in the world’s mind’s eye? Where in that ever-shortening sprint of ‘oh I know what that person is all about’ are you placed? What do people assume about you? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Do we even know?
The dog in my lobby was playing with a stick. It was lying belly flat on the carpet, nudging and nibbling at the stick, captivated and generally quite enjoying itself.
Attention span. Perseverance. Flow. These are things I fight with technology for every day. When was the last time I paid something or someone such undivided attention with limited understanding of what I would get from it? When have I taken the care to swim in it and forget that I am a terrible swimmer that will need a break soon that the pool has edges and stairs to get out just in case? What was my last dog stick? What will be my next?
I walked by the dog. The concierge walked by the dog. We couldn’t help but love the dog. It was love at first sight. Uncontrollable smiles, crooning noises, (from the concierge not me), general adoration. The dog paid no attention. A flash of jealousy. It’s so dang easy for the dog. However it may seem, the dog is the one who’s got us eating out of his hand. Paw?
Why are dogs so enchanting? Because their energy is boundlessly positive, because they are soft to touch, because at the end of the day we have the power and they are harmless? If we knew that dogs were crafty enough to hold organized crime or pull something akin to Pinky and the Brain, using their irresistible charms for evil or to take over the world, what would change?
If you think about it, some people are born with the benefit of the dog. There are people you meet who you just want to like. There are people you meet who you don’t. Maybe they’re prickly on the outside and it takes perseverance to get to the candy center. Maybe they look sweet on the outside but inside they’re hollow or rank and rotten and covered in mold.
What if we gave everyone the benefit of the dog?