Well…when a dog is using it as a toy! The same goes for a roll of toilet-paper, or a door-knob, or a bottle-top, a Dream-Catcher, a feather-duster, or even an empty Evian bottle. Etc.
About 15 years ago a dear friend of mine was studying Buddhism. He happened to be around when my then foster-dog trotted out of the bathroom, holding a very chewed toilet-scrubber between his happy lips, taunting me with dips and play-bows to ‘come-n-get-it.’ I lunged for it, and my happy foster ran away, scrubber joyfully bobbing as he ran to and fro between closets, kitchen, living-room, laundry-room and bedroom. Of course the scrubber ended up in the bed–on my pillow.
“Gross!” I cried. “That’s just too gross for words! He has toys, why does he want to play with a toilet-scrubber! I mean, DisGusTing!”
My serious Buddhist friend said, with the kind of seriousness only a religious student can pull-off, ” To you, it cleans your waste-receptacle. But to him it’s a wonderfully, marvelously shaped toy. It has the right shape and size to mimic a stick, and truly fun filaments on the edges to gnaw on. Plus you left it on the floor, for him to find and play with. And the interesting thing is that you are BOTH right. But you have different perspectives on it.”
Though I hemmed and hawed and sputtered, ( I mean I bought the thing. I paid money for it as a toilet-scrubber) I couldn’t help but see my friend’s point. “Bought’ and ‘money’ didn’t mean anything to my foster dog, and never will to any dog. ‘Buying and money and general finance’ is a human issue. Shape and size and desirability and access meant everything to my foster. Utility meant and will always mean everything to a dog.
Needless to say, many things are kept high in our house now. Especially with a houseful of fosters. Anything at ground level is scanned for ‘dog fun factors’ ( would a dog want to chew it? Pee on it? Play tug with it? Bury it? If so, up it goes!) We humans at the RdC no longer see a toilet scrubber as ONLY a toilet scrubber, or a tennis shoe as only footwear, or a TV remote as a television-operator. Because to a dog, an object does not have the same meaning. Financial and practical terms, in the human sense, make NO sense to a dog.
Is it chewy, interesting, or potentially fun-making? That’s how a dog sees an object. Even a toilet-scrubber. Even a purse that a trendy human will spend ten thousand dollars to buy. ( Chewy! says the dog! Still smells like Crocodile and Cougar! Yum! I’ll hunt that, yesiree!)
The duality of objects never fails to fascinate me. To me, an empty potato chip bag inspires hideous remorse. ( Did I really eat the whole thing? In ten minutes! Oy Vey! I suck! Again!) To our fosters it inspires a good game of game of tug-o-war. ” Look what I got! This toy that crackles and smells really good! Yay! Catch me if you can!”
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