I had to differentiate between my human desires and my dog’s life if was going to make a “go” of service dog existence. A blind friend told me that god gave man dominion over all the animals. The very thought made me shudder. Dominion conjures slavery, imprisonment, entitlement—my life and Corky’s were not in a power relation even though she’d been trained to watch for traffic and encouraged to trust her judgment, even though she guided me and I was supposed to set our course, practice daily obedience, sit, down, come—here’s a treat. Even with all this I knew she was her own being and this gave me a great sense of relief. I believed in the dignity of animals. One large part of this was knowing they are our equals. At the guide dog school I was surprised by the number of trainers who thought this rather silly. One has to be alpha dog. Dogs respect their leaders. But while this is so—working animals, whether horses, dogs, or aquarium dolphins will adhere to our requests and insistences, where does the notion that our domestic leadership makes us better come from? Savages vs. the civilized, the oldest narrative of them all…We label all living beings as beasts because they’re not like us. Well of course. Of course. The taxonomies of inequality are profound. I couldn’t imagine being like my blind friend who thought god had put her in charge of her dog.
Thoughts early in the morning. I walked along Central Park West. Stopped. Took in a light rain. Corky turned her face up to the mist. We were happy.
I thought of William Blake: Mutual forgiveness of each vice/such are the gates of Paradise…
To this one could add mutual forgiveness of our respective embodiments and our strangely connected but intangible souls. Man and dog. Street corner.