“And I never wanted anything from you / except everything you had”

[After trekking out of the wilderness to return a dog that had followed them, though the dog didn’t want to go back to its owner]

“The dog crossed its front paws and dropped its head, ruined, condemned. It burrowed into its own misery and did not follow us as we turned back to our camp.

“Getting rid of the mutt left me with a feeling of relief, but there also came a sense of inexcusable betrayal. I have often felt the case of domestic dogs piteous. They are half-breeds, part wild and part tame. We have bred them into subservience and strange proclivity. The obsession a Lab has for a thrown stick or ball seems perverse. Deliriously high-strung terriers and neurotic, boggle-eyed Chihuahuas are sometimes frightening to witness, as if born from a demented experiment. What on earth have we done? Should any creature be so excited at the sight of a leash? There is a reason humans and dogs came together in the first place, an ancient partnership of mutual protection, a ritual, symbiotic dance created between two species. As I walked away from the ranch house, I thought that dogs at least deserve gentle, receptive masters to care for them. They should belong to houses and yards they can guard with dignity. The cord I tied around the mutt’s neck [for a makeshift leash on the trail] as I dragged it away must have burned terribly.

“Who was I fooling, though? I had no better rank than a dog. I too was once primitive. My kind climbed trees to sleep and threw stones to kill their food. Now we are near-hairless monkeys fitting ourselves into pants and shirts, our feet sweating in leather shoes. I find myself no less confounded than a domestic dog, half of me willing to bow to culture, the other half wanting to return to the wild and fill the rivers of my senses.”

–Craig Childs, The Animal Dialogues

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