7 Things Dogs Can Teach You About Life.

Having a dog is a good reminder of the realities of life, from the good to the bad to the essential, bare-bones of existence, if you can pardon the pun. So here are seven things my dog reminds me of on a daily basis.

1: There’s no such thing as unfair.

If we’re playing tug of war with a rope and I use one hand and she grips with her mouth and uses her paw to loosen my hand, she isn’t cheating. If she shakes her head violently, she isn’t cheating. If I shake the rope and pull it away, I’m not cheating. If I hold it out of her reach with both hands I’m not cheating. There is no such thing as fair or unfair in reality. You can’t explain these concepts to a dog. They’re human ideas designed to keep a human social order, that vary from culture to culture, person to person and day to day. In life, anything that gets you ahead is fair. All anyone can do is stop you getting ahead.

2: Violence is necessary.

Puppies and dogs play by fighting. Their games involve ripping, tearing, pouncing, chasing, crushing, pinning… They learn the pressure points on each other and on you. They learn bite inhibition: how hard they can bite before it hurts. Their entire entertainment package is fight, fight, fight.

Because violence, whilst not completely inevitable, is necessary. You need to be able to vanquish your enemies, kill your prey and scare off your predators. You need to learn to be violent even if you’ll never use it, whether you’re a rabbit, a dog or a human.

3: Prioritize your long-term survival.

The average dog doesn’t think twice about stealing your food when you aren’t in the room. It takes a long time to teach them not to steal because their basic instinct is to eat. You need to teach them that their wellbeing is at risk if they steal. This is because a dog puts its long term survival ahead of anything else. The main drive is to survive as long as possible and whatever gives the best odds of that, wins.

4: Don’t hold grudges.

Whether you “cheated” in a game, punished them for stealing food or unknowingly hurt them, they don’t care. After the act, once the order is re-established, they just want to carry on as normal. If you are repeatedly hurtful, they adapt their behaviour but do not become vindictive. A dog lives in the moment, adapts to change and, as such, does not hold grudges against you, even if you hurt it.

5: Learn as much as possible.

The puppy can’t keep anything out of under her feet, in her mouth and up her nose. Leaves, dirt, dead animals, flowers, bottles, toys, ropes, wires… It takes a long time to chase her away from exploring.

On the flip side, she is always eager to please. It may take 20 or 40 goes, but she will learn that command and enjoy learning it, whether for praise, treats or just the fun of it.

The point is, she’s always ready to learn. The more you know and adapt, the healthier, more efficient and happier you are as an organism. And dogs have this nailed. Learning is a pleasure to them.

6: The pack order is your existence.

Dogs are constantly vigilant for changes in the pack order. They work out who’s in charge very early on and act according to the perceived pack order. Some dogs may decide that the teenage son is clearly running the house and some bitches put themselves before the children after their first season. The pack order dictates every part of their life and it needs to make sense to them.

There is always someone leading and if you refuse to lead they will lead for you.

There is always someone issuing commands and if no commands are issued they will worry.

Every position in the pack is always moveable and if they think someone has dropped out, they are eager to fill in.

And even in human society, if we adopt the same approach we make progress.

7: Enjoy life.

Ultimately, whatever you’re doing with it, strive to have fun. Dogs will turn training into games, enjoy learning new words, practise fighting and role play as different pack members. They will run and jump when there’s free time, grab the best bites of food when they can, cuddle anyone who’ll cuddle them back and try and ensure everyone else is doing the same thing.

After all, whether you’re on this planet for fifteen or eighty years, it’s way too little time to have it all and way too much time to be so serious about it.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

White Knights, Black Knights and Noble Men.

There are two concepts that are thrown around on the internet a lot.

The first is the White Knight, the idea of a man who spends his days, online or offline, gallantly racing into situations, even ones that he wasn’t a part of, to rescue a woman in distress, especially from other men. The archetypical White Knight makes no distinctions between whether the woman is in any actual danger or just making noise, whether she is asking for help or just looks a little bothered, whether the problem is not her fault or entirely her own creation. He will just march in and do her homework for her, punch her boyfriend during an argument and troll and doxx anyone who disagrees with her online. He lives to serve womankind by making sure that women never face any hardship, disagreement, troubles or even inconveniences.

A slightly more obscure concept is that of the Black Knight. Named as a witty counterpart to the White Knight, Black Knights also aim to be a witty counterpart to White Knights. He will respond dismissively, sarcastically and even rudely to situations where a woman might be in distress. Rather than boost her ego into the stars, he wants to drive the pedestal out from beneath her. He will call her ugly when asked for an opinion, call her out when she lies, support other people in arguments… basically treat her like another man, but more like a man he has no loyalty to than like a best friend. He lives to try and undo the work of White Knights at any cost and make women realize that they too are people.

Few people live up to one archetype. Generally, unless they’re going out of their way to be one way or the other, someone will display White Knight and Black Knight behaviours based on personal preference. With their girlfriend, mother or female friends they may White Knight, with their ex, their coworkers and bar staff they may Black Knight. And these two identities, both on an individual and a societal level, live in a state of tug of war. At the moment White Knights are in the lead, but they are slowly losing ground and Black Knighting may soon become the norm. And this continual see-sawing balance is good, but not necessarily enjoyable by society or likely to inspire productive behaviour in those on the receiving end of White Knighting and Black Knighting.

This is because the balance is normally reactive. A White Knight is reacting to all the “jerks” he sees upsetting women and overcompensates in an attempt to balance. A Black Knight is reacting to all the “simps” he sees pedestalizing women and overcompensates to balance. A normal person White Knights people they like and Black Knights people they dislike. And all this does is create personal preferences. A woman will avoid a man who Black Knights her and only call on White Knights when she wants their assistance because neither of them are pleasant, just or balanced people to be around.

Instead of reacting to other people, the healthy middle ground is the Noble Man, who reacts to situations. The Noble Man doesn’t Black Knight everyone on principle or Black Knight people he dislikes: he Black Knights when someone is getting uppity. If his sister starts insulting and hitting her boyfriend, the Noble Man will restrain and calm her and probably advise the boyfriend to reconsider the relationship. However he also White Knights, or goes to the defense of the weak and needy, when the situation calls for it. If he sees that a rude waitress is groped by a drunk patron, the Noble Man will support her side to get the patron removed. He won’t treat anyone a specific way forever, rather, he will do what is needed to restabilize the situation.

Not that any of this will change many men’s minds. But at least it will give other women some groundwork from which to evaluate our relationships with the men in our lives.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

Men Lead, Women Support.

There are some aspects of human nature that we are reluctant to address. Usually the ones that aren’t set in stone, that have just enough exceptions, that are a pull you can resist rather than a reflex you can’t help. And the pull that men and women feel towards certain roles is one of the most taboo subjects. But we do feel that pull and not only is there good reason for it, but understanding it can still be useful in today’s society, whoever you are.

One fact about humans is that, as social animals, the ways in which we contribute to society, from our tribe to our partners, are skewed by gender.

In their traditional roles across the World, men assume positions of leadership. What positions are available depends on the society, be it CEO, village headman or doctor. And what each position means also depends on the society, as a doctor in some cultures could be less revered or respected than in others. And how much authority you can command will depend on yourself and how well you and your skills fit into society. After all, an introverted master fisherman in a society where introversion and fishing are unappreciated will be doing worse than an extroverted blacksmith. But men have always capitalized their talents and made effort to become respected leaders of the community. And with this respect also come the resources they need to survive, a greater possibility of a good retirement and a wider selection of reproductive choices. By which I mean, men in positions of authority get food, protection, community and sex. The basics for human survival.

However, women’s traditional roles across the World are positions of support. Again, the availability and respect given to these positions depend on the society and how much their support contributes. And how much respect you are given will depend on yourself, your own ability to be supportive and how well your skills match the necessary skills for a more respected support role. A delicate feminine bride may be adored in a culture where her main role of support is to support her husband. But she would be far less respected in a society where women supported the tribe through toiling in the fields. But women have always supported the men and the vulnerable and made effort to ensure that the vulnerable are cared for and the men can continue leading. And when they were good at this, they were more likely to access the resources they need to survive, captivate a man’s attention and the respect of the tribe and have many healthy children. By which I mean, women in support positions get food, protection, community and sex. Again, basic human survival.

These traditional roles aren’t enforced strategies that every culture forced on its people coincidentally. They developed because of our condition. Firstly before contraception females would bear and breastfeed infants, meaning they would spend more time at home, around the tired hunters and the vulnerable members of society. Secondly, if females were having infants and infants are beneficial to the survival of a group (they are) then female energy would be highly valuable, meaning most energy-expensive activities, such as hunting and wood cutting, would fall to males. Thirdly, when males were taking over most energy-expensive, away-from-home and risky work, then they would not exactly be going to be brimming with energy to clean, tidy, cook, tan skins, weave baskets, feed the vulnerable, etc when they got home. So someone had to do it. These traits probably developed before we became Homo Sapiens Sapiens. As in, when we were still very furry tribes of humanoid primates living on the plains of Africa, these traits were firmly ingrained. So if the pull for men to lead and for women to support is pretty fixed in most humans, but expresses itself culturally, where do we see it today?

Well, everywhere. Firstly, however much people want to pretend otherwise, most relationships still follow the lead-support dynamic. Like in dancing, when you have two people trying to lead you get arguments and injury (at least emotional damage), and when you have two people trying to support not a lot gets done or finished. Unless you are operating as individuals who have no relation to each other, someone ends up taking the lead and someone ends up supporting the leader and the usual pattern is the biological one. Secondly, women are more attracted to support-based jobs, such as teaching, care or secretarial/HR style positions. Men are more attracted to careers and pursue an end goal of climbing the ranks to leadership, be it in banking, religious offices or business ownership. In our personal and professional lives, most men choose to lead and most women choose to support a leader.

Of course, some people will prefer the opposite role, be drawn to it and feel fulfilled in it. And, just as with homosexuality, there is no denying that the pull can be flipped or altered. But what happens when someone can’t fulfill their role, either because of social constraints or inability to fit the position? Then we end up seeing some sort of breakdown in them as human beings.

Men who can’t lead, either because they aren’t skilled enough at their job or because they are being led by everyone against their will, wind up unwell. They become stressed, passive and try and blend into the background. When women can’t support, either because there is no leader or because too many people depend on them, we see the same thing. Women are more stressed by work than men, even doing fewer hours. Men are more stressed by inactivity than women, even when their needs are met. Leading men being led by leading women start to break and can even become suicidal. Supportive women coexisting with supportive men become flighty and insecure. That same thing that creates the pull to begin with reacts negatively to being forced into the wrong role. It realizes it has failed to guard you. You have probably lost social standing, not gained many resources, are not desired by potential partners. So you are weak. So your body gets stressed, encouraging you to either break out of that negative position or just make yourself small and unnoticeable so the tribe doesn’t hurt you.

This is why highly successful women pair up with even more successful men. This is why men are willing to completely reinvent themselves after a few rejections. This is why women suffer more workplace stress in less busy, less physically demanding roles. This is why men in dangerous jobs are often less stressed than men involuntarily on the dole. We can’t change our role any more than we can change our sexual attraction.

But even in today’s society we can make use of this knowledge and use it to our advantage. For example, most women, being supportive and not leading, will prefer to confer or defer decisions than make one on the spot. Most men are more motivated and satisfied by additional status and respect than additional wealth in a job. Most women want to feel like someone is steering the ship when their lives get a little rocky. Most men want to feel like there’s something to fall back on in the same situation.

If you’re one of those who fall into the most common role for your gender, then this knowledge can help you understand yourself and understand thoseĀ  of the opposite gender. You can use it to see what would make you happiest and to properly look after your partner, children, friends and relatives. If you’re not one of those who fall into the common role for your gender,* then this gives you more insight into how others of your gender differ from you and some grounding from which to make your decisions and better integrate into society. All round, there are some truths you can deny. But this is one of those where denying it will cause more harm than good, to yourself and those around you.

*This doesn't mean being gay or masculine/feminine, by the way, plenty of feminine gay men could easily also be drawn to leadership and a tomboyish girl can be the support in her relationships. All these things may be fixed on an individual level, but are pretty independent of each other.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!