We run Zora’s guest post each May as a tribute to all those graduating, and their families. Zora’s words are wise.
At this time every year, humans come in looking for graduation gifts. Apparently their puppies, or their sister’s puppies, or the puppies of a friend–humans have such odd kinship systems–are doing something called graduating. It is a time of great consternation for the whole human pack.
It all seems a bit artificial to me. Take that kinship system of who has to buy presents for whom: we canines have instincts for a reason, and we’re not much bothered beyond that. You either smell good or you don’t; you wag your tail and are friendly, or you’re a growler. Blood doesn’t matter, unless it’s about to get spilled.
But then, I’m a dog, so maybe I haven’t had enough of that “schooling” stuff.
Still, the “graduation” ritual strikes me as odd. I understand that the human puppies have done something that took a lot of time and was quite expensive, but we canines know that it takes a whole lifetime to absorb the learning that goes with being alive. In my experience, those that don’t keep learning get run over on the highway. Or left behind in a move. You have to stay ahead of those noises you hear in the distance: Ears up, nose into the wind.
The ritual seems to mark a day when it is acceptable for the pack to tell the human puppies how much they love them. We bitches love our babies all the time; they get licks and snuggles and we sing them lullabies. I know humans love their puppies too, so why wait for special occasions to say so? Every day alive is a special occasion for us. We call it “every dog has his day.”
Perhaps this is related to that weird thing humans do where they run around each other–or run away from each other–looking for love. In my experience, love comes when you’re sitting down minding your own business. Someone scratches you behind the ears, you look into each others’ eyes, and you got a home. Just don’t go messing it up by barking when a little kiss will do the trick.
One last thing. There are no books that will stuff into a pup’s head in one sitting all the things they haven’t got by now. In our world, we say “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” The time to tell ’em what they need to hear is all those years you’ve got ’em around the food bowl – kitchen table, I think y’all call it. Those toss-off evenings that tick by one by one, racing past ’cause you’ve got places to go: THOSE are the nights that count. Once they get old enough to go out on their own, they aren’t gonna listen any more. So get their ears full while they’re still wet behind ’em.
That’s what I’d say if humans could hear me. But y’know, they usually can’t, so never mind. And to all you puppies out there leaving the school, here’s my advice: keep your ears up, scratch when it itches, stick with the love you find, and don’t get run over.