My dog rolled in something dead. He chewed at it first, then slammed his face into the earth and became eight shades of filthy. He also kissed me immediately afterwards, sharing that terrific death-laced breath. And maybe some secret disease of rot – who can know?
As much as I wish he didn’t get down like that, those moments of pure instinct are gems. Dogs tread the line between the wild and the distinctly human, hard-wired to love man desperately and then dive head-first into some other beast’s filth. I wish I obeyed instincts as easily as I obeyed my rational mind. Dogs are thresholders.
So yes, Icarus had brown streaks across his face and leaned in close with the funk of forty thousand years. But how can I not admire an instinct developed by wolves to disguise their scent from prey? Thousands of years later, no longer with any functional purpose, my domesticated dog still taps into that primal drive. The madness that strikes when Icarus chases a rabbit makes more sense – his breed does that by design, and the fruits of the hunt are real and tangible. It’s instinct, yes, but not removed from the tactics of wolfpacks hunting across the wild. Getting all dressed up in decay, though, that’s persisted across millennia. The wolf comes out. It’s a time-breaker, you know? Dogs are like gateways back through time, wormholes disguised as instinct, cutting across the nonsense of civilization and into something pure.
All that said, if his comprehension of cause-and-effect lasted longer than a few moments, Icarus might realize that the terror of a bath probably outweighs the mad thrill of rolling in the dirt.
Centuries of royalty were not able to breed this trait out of my 8- and 12-lb. pomeranian-type lap dogs, both of whom have a particular penchant for rolling in dead worms.
If only one gets to roll in the dead worm, then the not-covered-in-worm one will just rub her body against the covered-in-worm one to share the coveted stink.
On a sort-of-related note, last night, we were playing youTube videos of wolves howling just to watch them get their minds blown. This is what we do for fun now since you moved to Chicago.
That’s just smart problem-solving. If you can’t get to the dead thing, get to the thing that got to the dead thing.
I wonder if that instinct will stay with him as he gets older. I feel like old dogs get too lazy to be dirty. But I guess that’s what humans do, in a sense. We evolve to be more efficient, i.e more lazy and therefore leave behind our old ways because they make too much of a mess.
I’m about to make much more of a mess as I get older. I’ll get more efficient at ignoring the filth.
I imagine the rolling gets less vigorous with age, but the lab I had growing up kept the habit alive well into old-age and obesity.