Be the Person Your Dog Thinks You Are

Scott - Spokane, Washington
Entered on December 7, 2010
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I passed a sign once while riding my bike that said “Be the person your dog thinks you are.” Some may call that tail-wagging love and slobbery affection just a bit misplaced given this modern (excuse the pun) dog-eat-dog-world in which we live, but I believe the Earth would be a better place if this philosophy were taken out for a walk.

If I were really the person my dog thinks I am, I would spread a ruckus of authentic kindness akin to the chain reaction of every neighborhood dog barking in unison. I would say “it is so good to see you,” and actually mean it. To my dog I am constant benevolence, but there are times when I really don’t feel like scratching his head. By ascribing to the dogthink philosophy I commit not only to changing my actions but to changing the way that I am on the inside. When I enact “goodness” it will not be through my teeth and won’t come with any strings attached.

If I were really the person my dog thinks I am, there would be more peace in the world. Really, who in their right mind could ever be mad at a dog? I would feel no vengeance towards my fellow man when by him I am wronged. So what if Lassie excreted over the flower bed, she didn’t know any better. The idea of evening the score has no place in a relationship with a pet. By ascribing to the dogthink philosophy I commit to holding no grudges, to doling out forgiveness like Scooby Snacks, and to living my life in harmony with others.

If there were cause for me to put as much faith in a person as their dog does, I would be more likely to pick up a hitchhiker, more likely to ask for charity from a stranger, more likely to travel, more likely to say “I love you,” and more likely to be genuinely happy. I would experience the world in a completely different way because the people who once seemed threatening to me would transform into my greatest accomplices.

If there were cause for me to put as much faith in a person as their dog does, I would. And if my neighbor saw cause to put as much in me as my dog does, they would. And if my neighbor’s neighbor saw cause, and if my neighbor’s neighbor’s neighbor saw a cause… My point is clear.

Like I said, I may be naïve in proclaiming the enormous upside of the dogthink philosophy. However, I believe in its potential because I have seen the change that it can effect in a life as dark and twisted as mine. It all comes down to authenticity: when I scratch my dog or say hello to my neighbor I try not only to do right, but to be the right way. And somehow I have come to believe in the Me that my dog believes.