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08/28/2005 Archived Entry: "Attacking government: a dog's point of view"

ATTACKING HUMANS IS TABOO FOR DOGS, just as physically attacking government is taboo for us -- and for the same reasons.

We humans are the power structure. To attack us is likely to mean death for a dog. And at some primal level, they understand that. Still, it's surprising that more dogs don't even want to bite us.

I mean, we take them to the vets where they're poked and proded and objects are thrust up their butts or down their throats. Some of us tie them to trees, kick them, or beat them. Even the kindest of us hurt them in ways they can't comprehend. And yet, the vast majority of dogs don't even think about attacking us. Some may squirm and try to get away from the vet's poking. Some may cower before a rolled-up newspaper or a cruelly aimed boot. Many trustingly and stoically take everything humans dish out to them. Only a tiny minority ever snap or bite at those they perceive to be in charge.

So what makes them so subservient to us? They can't literally know that we humans are likely to kill any dog that shows aggression toward its masters. They obey out of some deep pack-survival instinct: You do not attack your leader unless you're prepared to die horribly.

How much of that attitude is in us? Thousands, maybe millions, of us are desperately frustrated at being unable to stop check-points, violent ninja raids, government citizen-tracking, and the whole general war on freedom. We know the justice system offers no hope. The electoral system offers no hope. The Constitution offers no hope. The horrors just get worse and worse. So we posture and grumble about "shooting the bastards." But only a few -- and those usually more than slightly crazy or desperate -- break that taboo and physically attack government agents.

The rest of us give intellectual reasons for why we don't strike back. But are those reasons our real reasons? Or are we like a dog, instinctively putting up with almost anything rather than breaking the taboo of the pack?

It's a terrible, terrible, serious thing for us to contemplate challenging our masters. We know we're breaking pack discipline. We know we'll get away with it only if we're extremely strong or have sufficient allies. So we stand and growl and raise the hair on the backs of our necks. But we never lunge unless we are in extremis in some way. Then we snap, just as a severely injured or dying dog might snap even at its own owners.

One day, in the wild world, the dog-pack leader gets old ... and then a challenge comes. And the leader may be driven out or killed.

One day, in the human world, the government weakens due to its own excesses ... and then a challenge comes. And a government may be driven out or re-made.

Unfortunately, what nearly always happens is that the new leader is just like the old. So for the rest of the pack, nothing really changes.

So it's no surprise that dogs -- so much more placid and accepting than some of us are -- just say, "Whatever my leader does is fine. No matter how much it hurts. This is my leader. My leader loves me and would do me no harm."

Posted by Claire @ 10:00 AM CST

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