How to Make a Sad Dog

I don’t know when people started thinking they could force things to do what they want them to do, but it really needs to stop.

 —

This afternoon I saw a half-grown boy trying to walk a half-grown pit puppy down the street. She didn’t want to walk. In fact, I don’t think she wanted to be with him at all, the way she cowered. But he was determined that she would walk. He yanked on her leash and dragged her along, until finally she curled up in a heap on the sidewalk. He nudged her with his foot. She got up again. He hauled her a few more feet. She sat down and refused to move.

He kicked her rear end as hard as he could.

I yelled at him. Don’t kick that dog.

He looked at me. He tried again to pull on her leash but she wouldn’t move.

I told him to pick her up and take her home if she didn’t want to walk.

He did. He lugged her down the street, her legs splayed inelegantly over his arms. She was frozen.

 —

At the time I was sitting outside with my own dog. He loves to go out front. I keep him tethered to the porch rail with a 20-foot lead, and he’s happy. Or at least I think he’s happy. He may not be wagging his tail, but he wanders around the yard, digging in leaves, sniffing the crepe myrtle, licking the front of the house. I tell him to stay out of the leaves, but he doesn’t listen. He plunges right in, flinging leaves in the air with his feet, and his long curly fur catches half of them. I tell him not to go around the crepe myrtle, but he does, every time, and I have to get up and untangle him. I tell him to stop licking the house, but, well, he likes to lick things.

leaves smThen he sits under the cat tree, a large leaf stuck to his mustache, and watches. I don’t know what he watches, he’s nearly blind. He doesn’t see the neighbor’s dog who trots into our yard and pees on the pile of leaves that my dog recently marked. He doesn’t see the cat running up the driveway. He ignores the squirrel hanging upside down on the cat tree, chattering cuss words at him.

I don’t kick him. He has his own agenda, and as long as no one is in any danger, I let him be. He seems happy.

 —

That puppy is not happy. She didn’t like the boy dragging her by the neck. She didn’t like when he picked her up. But that boy has been taught that you can force things to do what you want them to do, and if they don’t, you beat them and kick them and threaten them. Because why? Because that’s the way his father treats his mother, and the way his mother treats him? I don’t know. I didn’t recognize either the boy or the dog.

But I recognized the behavior.

My heart hurts for that puppy. She’ll likely never know the joy of licking the front of the house while covered in leaves. She probably won’t get to sit out in the front yard and soak up the wintertime sun.

I doubt the boy will ever be happy like that, either. Or his parents. Or, when he grows up, his own family.

Because you can’t force happiness. I don’t care how hard you try. You can spend your life forcing or you can spend your life being happy.

You can’t do both.

 

Author’s note: I know this breaks my planned schedule of postings, but it had to be said.  Sometimes things just have to be.

 

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