Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

Dog and Man, An Old Story

Walking the dog is a profound experience. It reinforces the notion that man and dog are a lot alike.

One-Man-and-His-Dog1The walk is a chance for man and dog to exercise after a long nap on the couch. It also a chance to snoop on neighbors. Man looks through the windows while dog sniffs the tree trunk. If a neighbor is outside, it is a chance for man to say hello and dog to bark.

Picking up dog poop is an elemental way for man and dog to rekindle their deepest bonds of dependency.

When man or dog misbehave, they wind up in the doghouse.

Even as man and dog seem to differ, they really are the same. When dog encounters his own kind, he sniffs his counterpart’s butt. When man encounters another person, he engages in a subtler form of the same identification process.

Walking the dog reveals differences between the point of view of man and dog. Man stares up at the sky and stars while dog is head down sniffing the grass and fire hydrants.

Dog reveres the walk as a life experience, while man views it as another life chore.

Dog loves to roll in the lawn. Man wishes he could hire somebody to mow the lawn.

pawhandDespite their differences, man and dog have remained best friends for eons. It is one of life’s wonders that dog and man became so intertwined with each other. You have to question whether man domesticated dog or whether it was the other way around.

Yes, dogs have done some heavy lifting for man – pulling sleds, herding sheep and bringing brandy through the snow. But now dogs mostly perform tricks, fetch a few ducks and bark at passersby in between long naps.

Dog sleeps on man’s couch while man is off working – as it were, like a dog.

Man rushes home from a hard day at the office or factory only to face dog pacing impatiently for his dinner.

sunbathing-man-and-dogMan looks for his slippers, but dog has chewed them up and left them in shreds under the porch in the backyard.

Despite a few bones to pick, man and dog are as inseparable as peas in a pod. The history of the world should depict man and dog side-by-ankle. Men and dogs have been known to go great lengths, often at great peril, to rediscover one another.

But the greatest reflection of man’s devotion to dog can be seen in the content of ads. All sorts of products consumed by man feature dogs. The 2015 Super Bowl ad favorite centered on a puppy separated from, but ultimately reunited with his man – with the help of some really big horses. Dogs appear, sometimes randomly, in ads for snacks, costumes, insurance, restaurants and retailers. They even are shown driving cars, which has fed the persistent rumor that dog, not man, is really running the show.

eddie-tv2001411366On shows like Frasier, dogs like Eddie often steal the show. Eddie got more fan mail than Kelsey Grammer. He was so pupular that Eddie wrote his own memoir, titled appropriately, “My Life as a Dog.”

Despite the occasional showboating of a dog like Eddie or those dog-handlers at the Westminster Kennel Club shows, man and dog remain mostly like coffee and cream, made for each and unthinkable without each other.

Man and dog may be the oldest story we know.





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