I have now been a proud card carrying member of the canine human-mama club for over two years, and it’s completely changed my life.
Asides from the daily exercise, unconditional love and super fun play times – there is an amazing thing that happens when you bring a dog into your life…
Dogs create community.
Once you have entered the world of dog companionship, you will find a strange thing starts occurring. Random people on the street will start talking to you. Or to your dog. You will actually get to know your neighbours. You’ll end make a rag-tag group of new friends, from the regulars at the dog park.
Previously, I would have imagined this level of spontaneous human interaction was something akin to a 1950’s Stepford themed nightmare. But once I got over the initial shock of people actually stopping to talk to me on the street – I actually started to really enjoy it.
You see, us humans, we ‘re supposed to exist in communities. To create rich social lives and dynamic relationships within these groups to nourish our collective souls. And for a very long time we did. It is in our very nature to be social creatures, for that is how we evolved. We don’t have any sharp or pointy things like claws, so we needed to band together as a group for safety. From building shelter, to gathering food and producing resources – being a part of a community was the container that supported our lives.
But since the industrial revolution, modernisation and digitisation of our lives, these communities have started to disappear. We still don’t have claws, but we now have locks, alarm systems and 911 to keep us safe. Food gathering and resource production are all outsourced, and with online delivery we don’t even have to leave the safety of our houses to feed and clothe ourselves. And when we are out, we plug into our headphones and loose ourselves in the digital world.
Lots of positive stuff has come from these advances in technology (I sure do like getting my groceries delivered!) – but it has come at the cost of endangering our local communities.
However – there is hope! With the help of furry doggy gurus, we can get back to these dynamic communities that are containers for a rich and fulfilling life.
How Dogs Create Community
1. Furry Icebreaker – On the whole, people want to make connections and be friends with other people. But it can be pretty hard these days to saunter up to a stranger and strike up a conversation without seeming weird or creepy. Or both. It’s no longer a normal occurrence, and people would rather be glued to their smartphones then risk the rejection of reaching out. However – a dog is a perfect icebreaker for two strangers to connect.
2. Mandatory Outdoor Time – The thing about dogs, is they gotta pee. And exercise. So adopting a dog means you are signing up for at least daily jaunts around your neighbourhood. And while your are out, you will come across people to talk to (see point one). Sure we can talk to people online from our couch, but the best way to create a sense of community is with those who live around you – and you gotta get out of the house to meet them!
3. Fellow Fur Mamas – Asides from just the ‘regular’ people in your neighbourhood, having a dog also exposes you to a whole different breed of person. The fur mama (or papa). They can usually be found at the local dog park or walking the streets before work. These are people that you might normally never interact with due to vastly different ages or interests. But you have one key thing in common – a furry guru – and that is enough to make a new friend out of!
4. Joy Magnets – Lots of people love dogs, and get so much joy out of seeing one in the park or getting to pat one on the street. By getting to be a part of this kind of interaction between your furry guru and a stranger, you are part of a shared experience of joy. And through sharing experiences we create community and connection.
So if you have been feeling a bit isolated, lost and lonely – know that you can use dogs to find that human connection. Even if you don’t have a furry guru of your own, put your phone away and strike up a conversation with the next person you see walking their dog. You never know, you might just make a new best friend (or two!)
Love and community,