There are some things that we have to do. Feed ourselves. Have a wee. You get the idea. As walking, capable beings, these acts seem second-nature, if not first. Of course, food depends on income stability. It’s something that may easily be taken for granted. My dog makes me think about this often. I use ‘make’ consciously because I have control over my food and her food, and when I am eating–she always wants some. I am aware that she wants some. She gets some bananny when I make smoothies. She gets cheese when I make lunch, even though I cannot eat cheese. She is fed promptly at the same times. She is loved. And, most of all, she loves chicken. She believes all chicken belongs to her. If you’re eating it, it must be some cosmic mistake. She will forgive you, but really, don’t you know better by now?
But these observations are quick to note down in one’s log book. I think the times I am truly awoken from a sort of unconsciousness are when we walk. My dog is especially stubborn. She is a shihtzu, and she doesn’t shed. In the summers, it gets far too hot for her, so we have to carry her home most of the time. Because of this precedent, she has, for years, decided that her compass points in one direction. And, in that direction, we must walk as far as possible at whichever speed she most prefers. I must, therefore, carry her home. I don’t really mind. It only gets difficult when she wriggles in my arms so she can see in the direction we’re walking, rather than over my shoulder. So with this in mind, I’m sure you can imagine I’ve had a lot of time to think…
I’ve wondered about how other dog owners or trainers might view this behaviour. Your dog should obey you. Your dog should walk in the path you prescribe. But, it’s not that easy. She’s small. She has a heart problem. So, when she’s tired. I’ll carry her. She’s also especially nosey. She spies on what people do. She does her business for them, too. You should be flattered. I am not at my most flattering angles whilst cleaning up her mess, but one must. For instance, there is someone in my neighbourhood who never cleans up after their dog. I feel like that’s the most basic of contracts you make with your dog and society. You poop; therefore, I scoop. Additionally, I’m beginning to wonder if another of my neighbours has a small pony they walk. A small flowerbed could be fertilized. I know this borders on the side of a disturbing topic, but I don’t think we should be as taboo about this stuff. Maybe, then, my neighbours would pick up after their doggies. Also, before I begin my next thought, I do not want it to seem contradictory that I am saying poop should be less of a banned topic and also affirming that my neighbours should clean it. It’s basic hygiene guys. Do your do.
Alright. So, I might have mentioned it before, but there is this philosopher, Julia Kristeva, who describes abjection. Kristeva explains that the abject is neither the subject nor the object, but it is the thing that is able to disturb the boundaries between finite positions or cultural constructions. An easy example is a corpse. The corpse disgusts the living being because it reminds us of death. Indeed, our own death. We are confronted by death, and we cannot challenge it. Another example is, what I have been discussing above, poop. In order to live, we must eat, we must defecate; but we are disgusted with our waste. So, we push the corpse into the coffin and our poop out of our minds and toilets. Our cultural consciousnesses is burdened and disturbed by these signifiers of death and filth. The corpse was once a conscious being–a subject. The poop is the evidence of food incorporated into our beings–giving us life.
I used to be really embarrassed about picking up my dog’s poop. I used to think, what would my friend think if they saw me do this? Or, what would my lover do? Leave me forever? Well, I imagine that, now, I would say to anyone that crap begets and is evidence of life. When we are ashamed of the dog’s filth, aren’t we just ashamed of our own filth. My dog’s consciousness is a matter I cannot fully examine. But I know she feels love, anxiety, happiness, boredom, sadness, fear, and calm. And, above all, she likes to poop for others. On our walks, perhaps, poop is less of a goal for her, but she does go. That is not our reason for walking. I always sense a stab of adventure from her as she pulls me in one direction and refuses to walk in another. I laugh at her when she does silly things. I tease her when she farts (it happens rarely). I give her kisses when she has a heart-fit and needs to be reassured of herself. I hold her, despite her unwavering sense of independence. I make trenches in the snow, so she can walk and lead me north or south, east or west.
I think one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learnt walking my dog, it’s that, no matter the weather, no matter the time of day, when I pick her up, I always tell her, look how beautiful the sky is today. Her eyesight might not make those fine distinctions, she may just see darkness or impenetrable light, but she is secure in my arms and, through me, our connection to the universe is infinite.
My week thus far
We’re going for a walk now. Talk soon.
Heaps of love,
Word Play & Misha Xx