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We humans honor our animal friends.

I had a wonderful time this morning, because our UU fellowship meeting included our animal friends. I always have a good time at this venue, and visitors are always given an individual welcome, which this time included several dogs, cats and my vest pocket-sized stuffed cotton alligator – Aallii. Their introduction by the lay speaker included a brief praise for their human companion for caring for them. At the end of the main lecture there was a mirror image of the morning candle lighting ceremony for an individual’s remembrance of a personal event. In this case the candle was lit for a remembered animal.

I light a candle for my long dead best friends.

A line developed for the candle-lighting ceremony, and I hesitated to get into it, but fortunately the line was ten people long and I started thinking about my past good friends, my animal friends long departed. The more I thought about them, the more I realized I absolutely had to light a candle for their contributions to making my life better and making me into the moral person that I am today. Yes, moral person (such as I am) is the right concept, because my animal friends were so good at embodying the living responses of honesty, loyalty and enthusiasm. Not that my human friends were dishonest, disloyal or wet blankets but it is difficult to come up with examples where they actually demonstrated those positive attributes as clearly as did my animal companions.

We learn a higher morality from Dogs not gods.

It makes me wonder if ordinary men who have grown up without a dog are fully developed moral human beings. This is a legitimate worry, because if we learn our morality exclusively from our innate programming and from other humans we can rarely develop our morality deeper than those human companions, but those refined responses we can easily learn, from our other innate ability, that of imitation, from dogs. Cesar Millan’s dog Daddy is a perfect example of a dog teaching other dogs, and humans too, how to behave in a responsible way. Watch Daddy in action. It is hard to imagine seeing another human responding so clearly to new and possibly dangerous challenges. It is from being involved in such interactions that we can learn to be better human beings, in fact much better than normal human beings.

A wise dog is a man’s best guru.