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A Conversation with My Dog

Sparky’s been barking a lot this morning, even by his standards.  So I took him aside, got him calmed down, and pet him.   I spoke to him in soothing tones, gently stroking the soft fur on his head.

“Look,” I said, “I know it’s got to be hard not to bark when you have dog-nature.  It’s a dog’s nature to bark.  But do you know what?  You have Buddha-nature, too.  And Buddhas very rarely bark.”

Then he looked me straight in the eye and said, “Woof!”

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No Winning, No Losing

Recently my dog Sparky and I were playing tug-of-war. He loves this game. I wanted him to enjoy himself and not feel that he was losing, so more than half the time I was letting him win. Then I noticed that he kept coming back for another round, win or lose.

That’s when it hit me: he has no concept of “win” or “lose.” Now, this is rare, even for dogs. I’ve lived with ten dogs in my life, including Sparky, and known countless more. Usually, if a dog doesn’t end up with the toy fairly often, he or she will lose interest in playing. Dogs are competitive by nature. Sparky is competitive with our other dog, Little Man, and doesn’t like to “lose” to him. He’s also competitive with our cat Ivy, and can’t stand it if she’s being petted and he isn’t. But when Sparky plays with me, he plays with me, not against me.

Isn’t that interesting…?

Does a dog have Buddha nature? WOOF!

Sparky during quieter times.  He's an American Eskimo Dog.
Sparky during quieter times. He's an American Eskimo Dog.