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Perspective: Dog Philosopher

Richard Brutyo

Once upon a time a dog wandered into a church and sat down in front of the pulpit. The minister stopped his sermon and addressed the dog: "I know you want to know the Gospel, but I know not your language."

Dogs can't talk. But they can communicate. For example, my pup can tell me without ambivalence when she wants to go out, when she wants to play fetch, when she wants to eat, when she thinks there might be danger about, and when she's glad to see me, her friend. We humans are proud of our ability to decline nouns and conjugate verbs. We take pride in fretting about misplaced modifiers and serious misuses of the semicolon., We praise ourselves for having watched every rerun of Mayberry RFD and knowing about hydraulic engineering and being able to renovate the back room. We can talk and listen and read and wield a hammer and saw.

But when dogs communicate, they are doing so about life's basics -- the things that really make life, life. They are play, food, territory, danger, and friendship. They cover all the fundamentals.

The great philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once said, "About that of which we cannot speak, we ought to remain silent."

Ludwig Doggenstein would have said, "Communicate about the basics; otherwise, be quiet."

This is Tom McBride and that's my Perspective. Woof!

Tom McBride is co-author of the annual Beloit College Mindset List. He is a specialist in Shakespeare. For 42 years he taught at Beloit, where he won an award for excellence in teaching. He also coordinated the Mackey Distinguished Writers' Program and the First Year Initiatives Program.