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Apologies if this has already been discussed, couldn't find anything in the search.

I've been thinking about the way we connect to dogs, recently. The ways their eyes are, when they look at you, and you can't distinguish them from a human's eyes. The way they squirm around with their heads down as you pet them, so alien and unlike us, and sometimes it's hard to remember that this is a living, thinking creature. I have a stuffed bear - I've had her for a long time now. I think of her as a presence, sometimes. Not quite real, but enough so to feel like there's someone there. Sometimes I look at my dogs at can only feel them as much as the bear. And then sometimes I look at them at feel as if they're pretty much like me, regardless of how they think and see.

Border collies are the geniuses of the dog world. Does that make them closest to us as humans? Is it that the higher the intelligence, the more they become like us? Or are they on a whole different scale, and no matter how smart the dog, it will never be a human?


How do you see your dog? As a friend, equal to you, that doesn't speak quite the same way? Or more like a young child, who you know better than and must take care of and teach? What's the connection between you two? Is a dog like a human at all to you? Is it like any other animal, too different to understand? Is the mind fundamentally the same but twisted, blunted, and developed differently here and there? Is the way we see dogs an amalgamation of the way see other things? A halfway point between childhood stuffies and human beings? Do we project our easier-to-understand connections onto our dogs? Or is the relationship with a dog, and the way we see them, entirely different from anything else, created from scratch? Would it be exactly the same had we never known humans or imagination?

Just wondering how it is for all of you, personally.

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I consider my dogs to be dogs. Friends, yes, companions in terms of being part of my life and family. Equals, no. I am responsible to take care of them as I have taken on that responsibility when I got each one. I am responsible to teach them, and they teach me some things, too. They are not like humans, thankfully, although I do believe they share some things in common with humans and with other animals - emotion, instinct, temperament, the ability to learn. Not a toy and not a person but still a member of *my* family as any of my pet animals (and some of our livestock) is. I do project onto my dogs and I shouldn't because it's not right to do so because I think it's a disservice to them.

 

I think people look upon their dogs from their own, often differing, point of view, experience, upbringing, emotional state. Sometimes that's for the good of the dog and sometimes that it not, depending on the person.

 

JMO.

 

PS - Your title tempted me to say, "I open my eyes and there he is, I see him!"

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I don't have a lot of time, so I'll keep this short and sweet. I see my dog as a sentient being with needs, desires, instincts, and emotions that are in some ways separate from those of many other species (and sometimes not) and also individual to them. I don't see them as humans and I don't see them as a soulless presence akin to a stuffed toy.

 

As Sue said, it's my responsibility to care for them, train them, learn to communicate with them, and see to their needs. In return they are my companions and my work partners. They help me when I need help and give me comfort when I need unconditional love. Not human, but in many ways better than human.

 

They are unique, neither higher nor lower than me on some arbitrary human-centric understanding or scale.

 

J.

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They are unique, neither higher nor lower than me on some arbitrary human-centric understanding or scale.

 

This. I love this. I would ask, though, how do you see them in the non "human-centric" way. All of the replies (and some of my examples) involve seeing the dog through our relationship with them, and our responsibilities towards them. How do you see them in isolation from the part you play in their lives?

 

(Sue: You should have! I walked right into that one.)

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hum, shall I tell you what I was taught?

 

That the dog and horse came to help us?

 

Our Partners- other Nations....as it has been said......

 

When I look at my dogs I see other beings. Caught up in this life with me.

 

They have gifts I do not have.

 

I have gifts they do not have.

 

They trust me- put their lives into my hands

 

and we walk together.

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My dogs are family members. They're not human yet they bring a unique completeness to the family. They are individual beings with needs that we are totally responsible for yet they also bring something priceless for us to the family equation. With time and training they become partners in life. I think that is what makes loosing an older dog so painful. We've lost a long time partner and family member who we understand, appreciate and love.

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My dog is my partner, my best buddy, my adventure buddy. I've gone days out in the wilderness without seeing another person, where it's just him and me. He's definitely not a human and obviously can't talk to me but we communicate effectively, I've learned to read him and understand him. And he seems to understand me most of the time.

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This. I love this. I would ask, though, how do you see them in the non "human-centric" way. All of the replies (and some of my examples) involve seeing the dog through our relationship with them, and our responsibilities towards them. How do you see them in isolation from the part you play in their lives?

 

(Sue: You should have! I walked right into that one.)

By non-human-centric way I simply mean that I don't see them in a way that compares them to myself (human). Humans have a long history of comparing other species to each other and ourselves, with the human as the "gold standard" on those scales (you know--humans at the top of the evolutionary "scale" with all other species arrayed below us from most humanlike to least). You even mentioned seeing sme sort of "humanity" or "human-ness" in their eyes. All I'm saying is that I see dogs (and other species) as unique in their own right, neither higher nor lower than humans, neither better nor worse, neither smarter nor dumber than humans. They are dogs, and they are different. Yes, we relate to them as the humans we are and we see them through our human eyes, but I try to avoid the mistake of thinking of them as humans in furry bodies or of viewing their behaviors, etc., through the lens of my human-centered experiences.

 

Of course I relate to my dogs as a human (that's what I am, after all), but I try not to let my humanness take away from my perception and acceptance of their "dogness". I hope that makes sense.I'm really not all that weird, lol!

 

J.

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Off subject! Look I have zero warning posts! not like high school....I had a lot back then, before computers...this was because of my older brother.

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I believe our perception of our dogs is up for interpretation from each individual owner. Do I view them as human? No, and that may be what makes them so special to me. There is something in her that is her, my dog - my Cola, and sometimes that is better than being human.

 

My dog has never failed me, even though I know I've failed her on occasion. We don't speak each other's language but there is an understanding there between the two of us. I've taught her behaviors, and likewise she teaches me on occasion. I certainly have never looked at her like a stuffed inanimate object... She's real, she has a personality, desires, emotions and a soul.

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Our dogs have always been our companions and family members. I do not think of my dog as a human because to me she is much better than humans in many ways. She never judges me, she is always happy to see me, and she gives love unconditionally no matter what mood you are in (and seems to know when you need it most). I think us humans could learn a lot from dogs.

 

On the other hand, I do feel she is my responsibility until her life departs, not just during the cute puppy phase but during the digging the yard, chasing the baby bunnies, barking in the middle of the night and eventually getting old and sick phase, NOT to be dumped in a shelter phase just because they got old. All phases are a wonderful part of the dog's and my life.

 

They are dogs, not humans, but somehow together we form a wonderful pack/family where each member seems to know their place and what is needed of them.

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What Julie and Tea said.

 

I do see my dog as an equal, but am aware that the law and the general population don't. Therefore, as the human responsible for her, I must do things, sometimes without her permission - like leash her in a fascinating, scent-filled park - that I would not do to another human. I try not to take unfair advantage as the privileged species in this world. I apologize when I am compelled to take these unfair advantages.

 

I try to see her as she is, and to hear what she has to tell me.

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I've always seen them as aliens. They are communicating with us, an alien life form. Not from outer space but unlike us in anyway. It is them that I think the burden falls on for communication. Yes we teach them what we want them to know but it's them that understands us and our needs. Way more than us understanding them. Rarely do you hear of the dog teaching us...although it happens all the time we don't look upon it as us learning, it's them learning...

Until you start working livestock. Then it becomes obvious how much they can teach us.

 

They are my partners, my buddies, the beings I choose to spend most of my time with. Better than humans in my eyes, as they are way less likely to judge us for our fragilities or our imperfections.

 

Being able to work with the dogs doing what comes so natural to them confirms my beliefs (to me anyways) we are communicating with an alien species. And it is beautiful when you have, or get to feel that connection. I thank them on a regular basis.

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Ok....this is a very scary thread in some cases.

 

I guess I am either a simpleton or simply accept that so many creatures live in this world that are not human and I accept them as others. No less, no more, just different. Part of the puzzle.

 

My dogs mean the world to me. They are not perfect. Their care and needs ground me. Something that human children or a good partner have not for literally over 80% of my adult life.

 

I see them as a living being with emotions and needs that happens to be joining my path. I do for them. They do for me. Some make sure I never suffer from low blood pressure. Others provide calm in the storm.

 

They inspire me to learn. To question. To widen my horizons. They make me look at my failures and keep me humble.

 

It often is a lovely journey that I every once in a while I strongly perceive as more intriguing, as I get to discover another way of being and thinking and I sometimes think they enjoy these discoveries as well. By the way....I feel the same way about my horses.

 

An acceptance of each other's sometimes not 100% aligned agendas and the agreements reached during that fun, and often not long enough, journey.

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I've always seen them as aliens. They are communicating with us, an alien life form. Not from outer space but unlike us in anyway. It is them that I think the burden falls on for communication. Yes we teach them what we want them to know but it's them that understands us and our needs. Way more than us understanding them. Rarely do you hear of the dog teaching us...although it happens all the time we don't look upon it as us learning, it's them learning...

Until you start working livestock. Then it becomes obvious how much they can teach us.

 

They are my partners, my buddies, the beings I choose to spend most of my time with. Better than humans in my eyes, as they are way less likely to judge us for our fragilities or our imperfections.

 

Being able to work with the dogs doing what comes so natural to them confirms my beliefs (to me anyways) we are communicating with an alien species. And it is beautiful when you have, or get to feel that connection. I thank them on a regular basis.

Wow, I really like this, too, along with what Julie and T said (not to slight anyone because there have been a lot of good, insightful things said).
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^ I agree, that is really beautiful. I love all of these answers, though, because everyone has these incredible connections with their dogs, and each person expresses/views it just a little bit differently. It's the nuances of the connections that are fascinating.

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So many insightful replies! This is an interesting discussion! (Tea, you always break my heart in the very best ways with your words.) :)

I see my dogs as ... hm. How to find words. I see my dogs a bit like Tea describes, a bit like Sue says, a bit like Kristen says, a bit like Julie says ... well, parts of most things everyone has said. :P

My dogs are my partners. We stand together on a very old, well-trodden path laid down by shepherds decades and centuries ago. Personally, I can only make poor mimicry of what those shepherds did - and still do - for I am not a farmer and I have no flock of my own. Perhaps there's a shepherd or farmer somewhere in my family tree who walked the fells with a pair of shaggy sheepdogs at his heels and "whistled through his fist" to bring the sheep down or put them out. But I don't know, and I can't say. My dogs, however ... their heritage is gloriously undiminished.

My dogs carry, undiluted, the blood of canine kings. To some, that ancient, hardscrabble shepherding life may have seemed like one of servitude, but I know, and my dogs tell me, that it's in their blood as sure as song and the sea. So, I see my dogs as furry, dusty, dirty, muddy, hairy, four-legged miracles that have been gifted to me to caretake and enjoy. I am their servant as much as they are mine, for I can't demand their instinct, their talent, their heart. They share that with me without reservation, and it's upon me to be a good custodian of those gifts.

I see my dogs as partners and companions, but in no way human. They are better than human. They still possess what we lost in the Garden long ages ago. Whatever pettiness they may own, it's innocent and like as not our fault. Whatever meanness they may own, it's without guile and again, possibly our fault. I'm glad my dogs aren't human. I'm glad they encourage me to look outside myself, to stop short when things go wrong and ask myself the question, "What can I do better?"

I see my dogs as friends who give me their whole hearts, who devote themselves to loving me as no other thing on earth can or does. But this does not preclude their dog-ness nor does it diminish them to "little furry people." They are Dogs: honorably, faithfully, cleverly, wisely, beautifully, joyfully, wholly Dogs. They are my gifts. They are the axis around which my funny little world revolves. In all things and all deeds, I always come back to their Dogness.

I'm farm-sitting for a friend this weekend. We just got done feeding sheep, horses and chickens and in a little while, I'll bring the ewes and lambs in off the pasture for the night. My dogs are presently napping, content in their dogness, and they'll spring to their feet the moment I stand, alert and ready and cocked to fire. This Dogness of theirs - I wouldn't dream of insulting it with silly anthropomorphizing. They are ever so much more than that.

And that is how I see my dogs. :wub:

~ Gloria

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Or is the relationship with a dog, and the way we see them, entirely different from anything else, created from scratch? Would it be exactly the same had we never known humans or imagination?

 

 

Adding a final thought: imagination is totally what drives the partnership between border collie and man. The ability on the part of the human to ask, "What if we did this?" coupled with the ability of the dog to employ his own instinct in un-instructed and even innovative ways to take care of unexpected scenarios.

 

And yes, entirely different and created from scratch. Some people have the same feeling and partnership with their horses. It's unique and precious beyond words. :)

 

~ Gloria

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Bcnewe2- love your idea of the dog as an alien.

 

One thing I'd really love to know is how the dogs see me- or rather, how they see the world in general. It's obvious that they experience everything rather differently than I do, even if just for lack of language and context for a lot of what they see. So I'd love to see what they think about human activities, individual humans and their personalities.

 

Sometimes I get the impression that the dogs think us humans are less than intelligent. "Come on, there is a bag of food over here! No really, I need to be fed now, it's been moved and you probably don't know where it is. Look, I will lead you to it."

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Where's the "like" button?

So many insightful replies! This is an interesting discussion! (Tea, you always break my heart in the very best ways with your words.) :)

 

I see my dogs as ... hm. How to find words. I see my dogs a bit like Tea describes, a bit like Sue says, a bit like Kristen says, a bit like Julie says ... well, parts of most things everyone has said. :P

 

My dogs are my partners. We stand together on a very old, well-trodden path laid down by shepherds decades and centuries ago. Personally, I can only make poor mimicry of what those shepherds did - and still do - for I am not a farmer and I have no flock of my own. Perhaps there's a shepherd or farmer somewhere in my family tree who walked the fells with a pair of shaggy sheepdogs at his heels and "whistled through his fist" to bring the sheep down or put them out. But I don't know, and I can't say. My dogs, however ... their heritage is gloriously undiminished.

 

My dogs carry, undiluted, the blood of canine kings. To some, that ancient, hardscrabble shepherding life may have seemed like one of servitude, but I know, and my dogs tell me, that it's in their blood as sure as song and the sea. So, I see my dogs as furry, dusty, dirty, muddy, hairy, four-legged miracles that have been gifted to me to caretake and enjoy. I am their servant as much as they are mine, for I can't demand their instinct, their talent, their heart. They share that with me without reservation, and it's upon me to be a good custodian of those gifts.

 

I see my dogs as partners and companions, but in no way human. They are better than human. They still possess what we lost in the Garden long ages ago. Whatever pettiness they may own, it's innocent and like as not our fault. Whatever meanness they may own, it's without guile and again, possibly our fault. I'm glad my dogs aren't human. I'm glad they encourage me to look outside myself, to stop short when things go wrong and ask myself the question, "What can I do better?"

 

I see my dogs as friends who give me their whole hearts, who devote themselves to loving me as no other thing on earth can or does. But this does not preclude their dog-ness nor does it diminish them to "little furry people." They are Dogs: honorably, faithfully, cleverly, wisely, beautifully, joyfully, wholly Dogs. They are my gifts. They are the axis around which my funny little world revolves. In all things and all deeds, I always come back to their Dogness.

 

I'm farm-sitting for a friend this weekend. We just got done feeding sheep, horses and chickens and in a little while, I'll bring the ewes and lambs in off the pasture for the night. My dogs are presently napping, content in their dogness, and they'll spring to their feet the moment I stand, alert and ready and cocked to fire. This Dogness of theirs - I wouldn't dream of insulting it with silly anthropomorphizing. They are ever so much more than that.

 

And that is how I see my dogs. :wub:

 

~ Gloria

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