Life According to a Labrador

In a July 2011 interview of JMC Online Magazine with Incubus’ Mike Einziger and Brandon Boyd, the interviewer asked the two if they would be willing to write a song from the perspective of an animal. Boyd said that that would be fun; Einziger thought and replied:

“I actually think that there’s so much that animals must know that we don’t know about […] I’m sort of like constantly looking at my dog’s eyes […] ‘Oliver, what do you know that I don’t know? What is the secret nature of life as it’s been revealed to you?’ How can we transfer that information from that brain to this brain. I wanna know.”

Have you wondered about it, too? I have. Whenever I see my dogs looking out into the distance and in a very contemplative mood, I wonder what they could be thinking about. Are they simply looking at all the objects that they’re seeing or could it be possible that they’re also thinking about the bigger things: time, nature, or life in general? Dogs are good observers and I oftentimes catch them observing… me. When they do so, what thoughts could they be formulating about me? Do they merely wonder when I would feed them, or are they aware about the things that are going on with my life and they’re also trying desperately to reach me and offer some advice? Might it also possible that they’re studying me so that they could pass on this information to their progeny?

A couple of months back, I finished reading an interesting book called “The Labrador Pact” written by author Matt Haig. The whole book is seen through the eyes of a black Labrador named Prince, and it narrates the life of his fragile and vulnerable human family. As a Labrador, Prince is bound to the Labrador Pact, a set of guidelines followed by all of his kind that stipulates their “mission” to secure and keep their human owners happy. It is their goal to protect humans from all threats, both outside the home and even within. When they succeed with their mission, they will earn their “Eternal Reward.”

Although the book is not really the perspective of an animal, it still gives the readers a peek of what could possibly be inside a dog’s head as it interacts with other animals, and of course, human beings.

Below are a couple of the philosophical musings “courtesy of Prince.”

               There is something about the human face. Something ridiculous, yes, but also sad, unprotected, even when it smiles. I was noticing this as I lay between Adam and Kate, watching them read their bedtime books. I don’t know, they just seemed so hairless and vulnerable, I wanted to lick them, wash them clean, keep them safe.
                […]
                Right then, although they may have looked vulnerable, they also looked happy. In their own worlds, but also together. Sharing the quiet, animal peace of humans who truly love each other. […]
                […] There may not have been passion in the room – that faded, years ago, along with the carpet – but there was something else. Something as – no, more¬ – important. You could feel it just by entering the room, just by seeing them sitting together, side by side, half-cocooned by duvet. Love. That’s what you felt. Coming from every corner of the room, contained within every object. It sounded sentimental, but it was true. And anyway, I’m a Labrador.
                Sentimental was all I knew.
                 But as any old dog would confirm, nothing stays still. Not permanently. Puppy love matures into dog love, which soon becomes old dog love. It hobbles on for years but then love itself eventually has to be put down. So I couldn’t help thinking that this moment may already have been a memory, and a nostalgic one at that.
                Love, I realized, wasn’t going to be enough.

~ (Chapter) Face, pp 98 – 99

* * *

                 I now realize that there is a fundamental difference between us and humans, and it is a difference which highlights why they need our help. The difference is this: whereas dogs can learn to suppress their instincts, for humans there is no hope.
               They believe that science, technology and culture have placed them on a different plane from the rest of the animal world. They think that all their apparatus has somehow managed to protect them from their natural impulses. That when they cover their hairless bodies with clothes, when they paint their faces with make-up, and when they wash away and disguise their personal scent, they are able to suppress the primal urges which in fact guide their every move.
               Of course, this vulnerability is what helps to make them so lovable. After all, how could we neglect a species which so appeals to our protective instinct? (A question which must, at some future stage, be put to the Springers.)
               But it also leads to a dangerous repetition. As a species they make the same mistakes over and over and over, because of their attempts to detach themselves from the natural world. It doesn’t matter how many times they experience something, the lessons go unlearned. For example, they are unable to come to terms with death, no matter how often they are faced with it.
               The same with sex. The more humans try to rationalize their desire, the more they become its victims.
               This perceived need to control sex and death is most evident in their treatment of us, their dogs. When they send us to an early end, or take away our testicles, they are not (as the Springers propagandists would have us believe) trying to exert their power over us. Rather they are trying to exert power over the twin forces which map their lives. That is to say, in saving us from nature they are, in effect, trying to save themselves.
               But still they remain trapped in a repetitive cycle – forever resisting, but unable to break free.
               And so it was with Adam.
               As far as I could smell, he had spent his entire life in a permanent state of resistance. The desires and impulses he felt were clearly destructive and could do damage to the Family, and he couldn’t understand why he would want to do thing which would hurt those he loved. So he resisted. And he carried on resisting until the desires grew to such an extent they brought with them their own justification. And two days afer the meeting with Simon in the park, he finally lost his will-power.

~ (Chapter) Victims, pp. 197 – 198

 * * *

Can you imagine if dogs actually had these thoughts? Mike Einziger, is this good enough a response for you?

I think that there really must be some knowledge that animals share about life that humans could never access due primarily to the speech barrier. But if they did possess some grains of truth and a deeper understanding of the nature of life, and people found a way to acquire it, could humans be able to handle the said information? Would things be clearer for humans or would it only mess up everything more? What do you think?

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