First, my sincere thanks to all those who have sent me sympathies about Brandy. I've had both comments on the Blog, and personal e-mails, too many to mention individually (rivalling the number of Spam e-mails I get every day). Some from people who have also had recent canine losses in the family.
That got me to thinking, because there's still a Brandy-shaped hole in the house, I keep on looking for her while blogging, as she used to just quietly lie by my feet, sharing company, and getting the odd pat now and then.
The Mythical 'Man from Mars', observing the human species coolly and dispassionately, might well conclude that Dogs and Humans are Symbiotic. And I think they'd be right. Now humans have lots of Pets - often surrogate children in some respect, creatures we can love and who love us in return, often small bundles of Ferretty Fur who play to our delight. Cats are popular, but Cats are independant : Dogs have Masters, Cats have Staff.
But I think the nature of the relationship between Dogs and Humans is qualititatively different from that of most Pet-PetOwner ones. The love is unconditional. Sure, the Human is the Alpha Partner, the Leader of the Pack. But in the wild, pack members don't treat the leader with the absolute loyalty bordering on worship that Dogs do to humans. It's the result of Evolution, Dogs showing loyalty get that in return, otherwise they're just another meat animal, as Dogs have been treated in many societies.
It's no accident that Humans often hunt alongside, and in co-operation with, a canine pack, or individual dogs. And just as the Canine gets a buzz out of having a stick thrown to them, we get just as much pleasure out of doing the throwing.
Evolution has made us this way, it's a 2-way street. There's a survival advantage in having a Doggy member of the family. Even in modern society, having a dog on the premisses has kept us from being burgled, as many on our street have been over the years. As for the cost - well, one of the things that really upset me today was shopping for meat, and realising with a pang that there's no point getting a T-bone or a leg of lamb any more, there's no-one to enjoy it.
Of course there are plenty of people in the world whose recent loss is even more pronounced. Yet these people often are the readiest to send their condolences to me. There are times when I look at the Big Picture, at Darfur, at Auschwitz, and I dispair. But then someone comes and reminds me of the wellsprings of Good that reside in human hearts, and it restores my soul.