…funk for the old soul…

Dog Is My Co-Pilot

Posted by crowbiz on May 15, 2009



Rarin' to go

Rarin' to go

You’ve seen the bumper stickers, which do nice double duty expressing one’s love of dogs and skewering sticky-backed religious proclamations all in one (a favorite of mine is “Jesus would use his turn signal”)  However, this post isn’t meant to promote misty-eyed sentiment about all the joys that dog companionship brings;  those who love or have dogs already know this in full measure, and those who don’t like dogs have deeper problems than I care to entertain right now. What I aim to consider is how Dog Maintenance is a useful and potentially dangerous tool for one’s productivity.  In the right measure, it can provide mental lubrication and inspiration, but if employed carelessly, can become a day-long unfolding conduit to procrastinatory guilt.  



Let’s tackle the latter.  Dogs need stuff.  Food, walks, more or less grooming, playtime, toys, cuddling, other dog time, more walks, chances to get into a little trouble, and whatever else you may provide, which is your business.  But don’t let this be your excuse for an unavoidable time-suck when deadlines loom and unpleasant tasks await.  Need to start cleaning the basement?  Well, you could just take the dog out for a little walk first, get that out of the way….  Is there a dreaded phonecall to be made?  You know, you are supposed to check between your dog’s toes for ticks, and even if you don’t live in the country, you’d feel mighty bad if you were negligent here.  By the way, did you remember to put the heartworm pill sticker on the calender from April through November?….  Have a stack of papers to grade (ahem)?  Oh, that’s going to take a long time, so I ought to give the dog some attention now to hold her over for a while….  Don’t kid yourself.  Whenever unenjoyable or daunting work needs to be tackled, it’s never a better time to (choose up to eight):

– organize five years worth of photos

– call your friend who sent those reprints found in the photo pile

– walk the dog

– google that vexing term you keep meaning to get to

– play with the dog

– deadhead flowers

– decide this would be a good time to wash the dog’s bedding

– more menial jobs that could fill 17 more pages….

** Warning!  Cat people, do not try to substitute your cat for this story.  It isn’t intended to apply to cats for various reasons.  No, I’ve got nothing against cats, or not much.  I had cats for approximately 30 years; I like cats; I’m over cats. Anyway, cats and blogs are a toxic mix.  If you don’t want to take my word for it, read a few, but don’t say I didn’t warn you, and don’t come crying back to me.  **

On the other hand, having a dog around is a great way to enjoy companionship during work time without the downsides of humans.  Those of you who work from home, raise your hands.  It’s fine to talk jibberish out loud when with the dog; in fact, he prefers it.  Want to belt out a song at 9:48 am?  Try that in your cubicle. At least at home you have an appreciative audience who would actually like more.  Dog Presence is like having a silent, nonjudgmental coworker around, and you feel slightly accountable to some entity, albeit furry, so you’re likely to get some things accomplished.

Long walks are the clincher for me, and all the more justifiable with a young, high-energy dog.  We both get our exercise and I get to casually inspect people’s yards and houses from an acceptable distance (hint:  pretending to adjust the dog harness is a great way to stop and try to look in people’s houses from the sidewalk.  I won’t name names, but you there on Chapin Parkway, that’s a really ugly lamp in the front window.)  The less obvious but sizable benefit is that this is my mental exercise; many people use their daily workout to think things over, brainstorm, compose, problem solve and all those other cognitive functions we can’t manage when required to pay attention to other tasks of the moment.  Insecurity prevents me from revealing my own dog duty mental miracles, because it would be easy for the outsider to say, “You walk three miles through the city and can’t come up with something better than that?”  But without the walks, I wouldn’t even have that.  Plus, unlike being in the gym, you can still talk jibberish during the walk!  The late, great ZuZu did a fine job getting me on this path 12 years ago.  Stella continues the tradition, and oddly, seems to poop less, which cuts into my mental time less.  Does the dog make me a better person?  That’s too hokey to answer, but I’ll say it helps.

It’s not a one-way street, though.  Sure, there is the occasional squeaky toy pressed insistently into your left buttock, or the rare whine-in-your-face, sometimes accompanied by a Frito-scented paw on your leg, but none of these distractions actually require you to think.  The interruption can usually be cleared with a few human noises and hand gestures to dismiss the dog – if only kids and coworkers responded so quickly and easily.  And the dog still loves your lousy singing.  

Every dog is just a four-legged Carl Rogers, so if you have one, start self-actualizing.


4 Responses to “Dog Is My Co-Pilot”

  1. Mary Ann said

    Great post. I never thought of dogs as a means of procrastination, but you now have me a believer.
    I posted about a dog today too – my childhood pet. I lost a lab after 15 years and miss her every day. (I have cats, but it’s not the same).

    Oh, and I love to look in people’s homes.

  2. dr_wisz said

    I had written this post on Poloroids last summer and I thought you might like to see/read it.

    • crowbiz said

      We have a shoe box of Polaroids from our hip days… must find them.
      And thanks for the reminder – I’d almost forgotten the good times at Ray Flynn’s. Memory can be fickle

  3. jayne said

    Great posting – especially the line about “an occasional squeaky toy being pressed into your left buttock”. And, my 2 dogs, Zoe & Brady, don’t seem to even lift their head when I sing along with the radio, uhh, badly, I must admit.

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