My professional sources inside the dog world tell me it’s no joke that people often resemble their dogs – and vice versa. That includes more than simple appearance, as I noticed the other day.
A woman came walking down the sidewalk connected by a leash to a border collie. Border collies are frequently listed at No. 1 on lists of the smartest dogs. They are to the canine world what geniuses like Einstein, Newt Gingrich and Martha Stewart are to the human world.
True, Einstein is dead, but so are a lot of border collies. In fairness, we mustn’t forget that they used to be smart before they became doggie dust.
There’s more to similarities between border collies and their humans than brains. Those dogs have an almost human personality, They are civilized and sane. That woman walking down the sidewalk the other day was visibly similar to her border collie. She was medium-sized with a square build and a fetching habit of happily wagging her bottom as she walked. Those two were a matched pair mentally and physically.
Contrast that civilized woman and her calm dog with other dogs who, unfortunately, also match their people. Twitchy little dogs often have twitchy owners. Angry dogs are not generally attached to tranquil people. Large dogs that run all over the yard like wild horses breaking trees and picnic tables are often partnered with hyperactive humans.
In fact, people are frequently so much like their pets that you could use that information to judge your daughter’s boyfriends or your son’s girlfriends. If your son’s girlfriend has a hysterical little Chihuahua or your daughter’s boyfriend has a pit bull, you might want to make some subtle suggestions about playing the field.
However, if your kid brings home someone who has a border collie, invite that civilized young person to visit often.
What is it about border collies, beyond raw intelligence, that makes them so desirable? For one thing, they earn their keep. They are born sheep and cattle dogs. They love their jobs and, most admirable of all, they take pride in who they are and what they do for a living.
We could all improve ourselves by conducting our lives in ways that make us proud of what we do, just like a cattle dog.
On the other hand, when I see something done by a dog on the sidewalk – an occasional occurrence along our street, I can be fairly certain that the dog owner has no sense of civic responsibility. Doing nothing when your dog makes a rude residue in somebody else’s front yard is the sign of a selfish person. Not only does the dog owner fail to pick up after his pooch, but he leaves that sordid duty to a home owner who doesn’t even know the dog.
One evening, some years ago, I was walking across the state college campus near our home when I noticed a woman up ahead whipping out a baggie, pulling it inside-out over her hand and then using that method to safely pick up and contain the deposit.
In other words, she is the kind of person who isn’t embarrassed by the task. She would be embarrassed only by not doing her duty as a dog owner.
I was anxious to see who she was. As I approached, I recognized her: it was President Dene Thomas, the head of the college. A college president wasn’t too self-important to pick up after her dog.
I have forgotten what kind of dog she owned, but I’ll never forget what a high-quality person that dog had for an owner.Bill Hall can be contacted at email@example.com or at 1012 Prospect Ave., Lewiston, ID 83501