On Dogs

Jonathan Safran Foer in the NYT on his dog in the context of the re-consideration of a leash law loophole in NYC that gives dogs some after-hours romp space. He goes on to make some larger points about how having animals in our lives — personally and collectively — is a good thing, if not always convenient.

Yeah, he’s won me over. I could never dislike someone with a dog named George — and he gets it*:

Our various struggles — to communicate, to recognize and accommodate each other’s desires, simply to coexist — force me to interact with something, or rather someone, entirely “other.” George can respond to a handful of words, but our relationship takes place almost entirely outside of language. She seems to have thoughts and emotions, desires and fears. Sometimes I think I understand them; often I don’t. She is a mystery to me. And I must be one to her.

Of course our relationship is not always a struggle. My morning walk with George is very often the highlight of my day — when I have my best thoughts, when I most appreciate both nature and the city, and in a deeper sense, life itself. Our hour together is a bit of compensation for the burdens of civilization: business attire, e-mail, money, etiquette, walls and artificial lighting. It is even a kind of compensation for language. Why does watching a dog be a dog fill one with happiness? And why does it make one feel, in the best sense of the word, human?

*And it’s nice to vicariously experience rowdy dog stories, in which your sweet angel dog (ahem) Emma actually chews relatively few things by comparison. As long as you keep the good stuff out of her reach, anyway.

Scroll to Top