I think the only reason dogs have survived as our pets is because they are cute. Forget loyalty, forget that “man's best friend” nonsense. When you walk into the living room and it looks like a flock of geese exploded because the puppy discovered the wonders of disemboweling a feather pillow, when you discover your once very nice set of leather furniture has been relieved of much of its leathery parts, when you go downstairs to the kitchen in the morning for a cup of coffee only to find three days worth of trash have been flung about the room in a joyous frenzy, it is then you realize that the dog is neither man nor woman's best friend, but quite the contrary. One would never put up with a roommate who behaves in this manner. So, the obvious question is: why do we let them live with us not only rent free, but with food and medical and emotional needs all tended to as well. What does one do when one's “ward” behaves in such an unseemly (and oftentimes costly) way?
Well, this is what I do. I stare in disbelief, then shout “HEY! Did you do this?” to Maya the puppy. I have several degrees and can quote Shakespeare, but this is all that comes to my mind at the time.
Maya says nothing. She just looks at me wagging her tail. She has very pretty brown eyes I notice, but I'm not giving in. I need to assert my alpha dog position and make it clear how very bad she has been.
I try to get my point across again. “BAD DOG!!” I say most forcefully. I point at the trash, couch, feathers, (insert sin of choice), glaring into those soft beautiful brown eyes, then point at her.
Maya responds by dropping to the floor and showing me her stomach.
Dammit! I will not give in and rub her stomach. Not this time. This is an egregious act on her part. I ignore her her kowtowing and continue to glare my alpha laser beams into her eyes. As a more intelligent and superior species, surely I will get through to her.
Maya stays on her back and proceeds to wag her tail while upside down. Somehow, she also manages to wag her body in the process.
Here is where my thinking, clearly mastered by thousands of years of Darwinian dog adaptation, causes me to say the following to myself: “Damn dog, she's so cute, damn dog, that was an expensive couch! Look at this mess! God, she is so cute, look at those eyes. NO! Don't look at her eyes! She is very bad. Damn she's cute! What pretty brown eyes.
And so the belly gets rubbed.
Survival of the cutest. I swear. They've got us figured out.