a story circulating the other day about a Swedish extreme sports team doing one of those Iron Man kinds of competitions in the Amazonian rain forest. Just before the final two legs of the grueling, 430-mile race, one of the teammates threw a meatball to a stray dog. And everything changed.
The dog refused to leave them. He shadowed them on a 20-mile trek through mud and rain forest. When he got stuck, the team helped him out. But when it came time for the 36-mile kayak trip, they decided it was too dangerous to take the dog along. But the dog had other ideas. He jumped in the water and paddled alongside them until they felt sorry for him and lifted him up into the boat. At that point, he had officially become one of them and one of the team members made arrangements to bring him back to Sweden.
What struck me about this story is that the dog sensed and knew something about this team way before the team caught wind of it. A stray dog is smart enough to know there are easier ways to get food than trekking 20 miles through the mud. This wasn't about a Swedish meatball (though they are definitely yummy.) The dog recognized his people. He recognized his daddy. And he was determined to not give up until the daddy knew.
I talk about my boy Kizzie from time to time on this blog. He's the one I watch sunsets with. Well, his real name is Kismet. And I named him that because it means "fate". I wasn't involved in choosing him as a pup. My other dog at the time, Passion, was a very alpha girl. Not just any dog would work for us. So I left the decision entirely up to fate, which in this case was a mix of Passion and the shelter folks. In fact, I've had three shelter dogs and the shelter people and my dog at the time picked all of them out for me. The only dog I picked for myself was Mystic and, while we're committed to each other, I often think there might have been a better mommy out there for her. Like one that runs five miles every day.
All that said, I'm not sure any human is in the driver's seat when it comes to dogs. Like I said, Passion played a major role in picking her companion dog and, during the process, she would literally turn her back on certain dogs—she would sit down and refuse to look at them based on nothing more than a passing glance. It was remarkable to see. She wasn't even happy about getting another dog, so it had better be one she could shape and mold like the Svengali she was. So she definitely chose Kizzie. Why would I presume she didn't choose me?
If you believe dogs can communicate with us psychically, (and I do) you'll find they do it primarily by putting thoughts or pictures in your mind. So when you're deep in thoughts about work, for example, and suddenly an image of walking past some poodle's house comes to your mind, it's not just your ADD addled mind. The dog put that picture in your head. He wants a walkie...and a sniff of his beloved. He's just letting you THINK it was your idea.
You've probably heard stories about dogs and cats who know when their owners are close to home. Or animals who anticipate earthquakes and other natural disasters. And then there was that famous cat who lived in a nursing home who always knew who was next to die. There's more going on between those silky ears than we know or can explain.
Which brings me back to contemplating the notion that my dogs chose me. While all my other dogs had some sort of trauma before they met me, Magick Moonbeam did not. She was well cared for by a previous family who fell on hard times. So they dropped her, her baby daddy and her pups off at the shelter and gave some information about her likes and whatnot to the shelter. Only they were wrong about a lot of things. And she didn't seem too broken up about missing her previous mommy.
From day one, I was her one and only. And she remains desperately devoted to me. So I've often wondered if she was just biding her time with them until she met "the one". I adopted her on her first day she was available. I wonder if she knew...if she knew it was me all along and she just had to wait a year and a half before Passion died and I was ready to find her.
So I give dogs a lot of credit when it comes to many things. We already know their ears and noses are far superior to ours, which means they can sense things we cannot. So I'd trust them if there was someplace they refused to go or something they refused to do. But that's just sensory superiority. Can we, as humans, ever get out of our ego enough to consider there's a whole category of intelligence out there that other beings do better than us? Can we consider that what we call choice and free will may actually not even be our choice at all? Is it possible that our visions of superiority and being "the fittest" are all a veil placed upon us by a much more clever being?
I mean, fercryingoutloud, we work our butts off to earn our own meatballs AND theirs. And we're grateful for it! We crave the connection with them. We don't even mind picking up their poo! Maybe the idea of the human being the indentured servant to a superior race of animals is not so "Planet of the Apes" science fiction at all. Maybe we're living it every day in some ways. And because we so value the unconditional love they offer, we never consider overthrowing them, even if we could.
It's worth consideration that we may actually be being used by a superior being for our opposable thumbs and critical thinking skills (rather than the notion we're using them for their gentle demeanors and unconditional love.) This pride we take in being at the top of the evolutionary ladder may not only prove to be untrue, it could very well end up being the fatal flaw that eventually proves our undoing. A little more humility in the face of evolutionary superiority could do us all some good.