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What's A Dog's Life?

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While staring into the white maw of the refrigerator searching for a glob of sugarless gluten-free low-carb cookie dough that exists only in my mind, I wondered, not for the first time, about the way Waldo experiences life.

In a bit of a digression, let’s go back in time to my 6th grade teacher Mrs. Finch. Talk to anyone who had her and they’ll say “Yeah, she was ‘that one,’ the teacher that made me see the world in exciting new ways.”

Unlike all the other teachers that came before (and mostly after), she didn’t give credence to the notion that intelligence comes in one handy test-taking flavor. I was exactly that flavor, used to being teacher’s pet, and she overlooked me in favor of the freaks and back row skulkers.

She excavated their brilliance and glittering artistry, then reflected it back to them and to us, now-faded stars, unused to eclipse in the realm of achievement. Mrs. Finch understood--and taught--that just because some talents are inevitably valued more in the world doesn’t mean the world’s judgement is inevitably right.

Waldo constantly informs this question of perspective--of how we experience the world. His vision at two years old is what I imagine mine will be at ninety-two, so he sees the world through his nose, which is always in motion. What would it be like to see what he sees, smell what he smells?

It’s easy to believe that dogs and monkeys and dolphins and other animals are less intelligent--and of less value--than homo sapiens because, for example, no animal ever invented the Sausage McMuffin. But until we are able to fully comprehend their experience, the jury’s out. It’ll probably take some time: we’re still working on fully comprehending the experience of our fellow humans.