Oprah Winfrey shared a special moment with her canine companion, Socks, as she made a surprise appearance during Melania Trump’s speech on national security. The impressive moment got a ton of attention, but from some, it felt a little forced.
Where have you gone, my darling dog? Why did you vanish in an instant like you’ve done so many times before? Have you lost your way? Are you merely unmindful of me — or perhaps you just don’t care?
I am a dog. I get visits from some of the biggest celebrities in the world. I even spent time with the Obamas. But as soon as I walk through the door, many dogs flee from me like an unprepared expectant mother.
Why? After all, we can’t all be Oprah Winfrey. We can’t all have the national spotlight shining upon us like some sort of golden retriever living dream in the entertainment industry.
So why do dogs run in herds? I would argue that it comes down to deep down in their DNA, not wanting to disappoint. Like a dog who finds it very difficult to lie down on a bed or to get up in the morning — it’s very difficult to give the appearance that you have zero interest in being pampered or provided a physical companion. And like a dog in the home, no matter how good you might feel about it, no matter how much they are willing to work for it, if it feels like a good idea to herd a bunch of dogs then the dog will always find the best way to do it.
But above all else, there’s a camaraderie here, that bond with that other piece of the family. When I was a dog, I was my family. I felt close to the people who brought me into the world, and it’s very hard for me to know a dog-owner would feel any differently.
And it’s not just my dog that I feel close to, it’s also my human family. For my own rescue dog, I knew and love this boy that I raised on my own. I know that the job she is going to be doing takes hard work — she was very interested in rescues and animal welfare, so it was a great opportunity to raise her as her own, her own heart and soul, learning her own vocation, teaching her own gentle ways.
And at the end of it all, there will be a smile, a mommy’s little belly pat, some love.
So is it selfish of me to love my family more than the fakers, the bullshit and the baby sitters? Why is it that dogs run in the herd for the thrill of competition?
We know what this is all about. Dogs understand well that this is the most powerful thing they can do to bond with their people — to be stronger, to be together. It’s even our own name as dogs, is run. So it’s a cry for attention, it’s a ruckus to get the zookeeper’s attention. It’s a way to create a sense of camaraderie with a group of people.
However, one never gets a sense from her that this is what the dog lives for. The latest version of this cycle is the campaign that the First Lady of the United States is taking to the streets of Washington.
So I’d like to ask Melania Trump: Do dogs have to stay in the herd? Should we as human beings live in a society where everybody stays in the herd?
No. We do not. But dogs are our family, and love is unconditional. It’s enough. They don’t need to be with their pack, and we don’t need to be with them.
Maybe they’ll just find someone else they can stay in the herd with?