Human-Dog Bond

What’s This? What’s This?

By Aubrey Beardsley

Have you ever noticed that humans seem to have absolutely no clue about most of the everyday objects around them?

They have to keep asking us, “What’s this? What’s this?”

I see it all the time. People holding the most ordinary of objects, or sometimes even nothing at all, and asking their dogs, “What’s this? What’s this?”

Sometimes it is a ball, or a lead, or nothing at all. Sometimes they are just waving their hands at nothing and saying, “What’s this? What’s this?”

Do you suppose they really want us to answer? Or are they being rhetorical?

Well, I’m not sure. I cannot decide whether it is laziness, confusion, or a flat out “object refusal” to admit that they know very well what it is, or isn’t, and they are just trying to make out that it is far more interesting than it really is.

A lot of humans really do underestimate the intellect of dogs, don’t they? And don’t they realise that the more times they ask, “What’s this? What’s this?”, and the more times we realise they are usually just holding a ball, a lead, or air, that we are simply going to stop listening?

It’s a bit like a politician. They do make me laugh, or scared. There they are, waving their arms about, jumping up and down, trying to stir up everyone into thinking they are holding something interesting and new, trying to make everyone think they have something of substance. What’s this? What’s this? They know very well they have a fist full of air. Just imagine if politicians tried that one on in the dog park!

Or maybe it is more profound than that. Maybe humans are genuinely seeking our opinions on what things are. Maybe they genuinely want a dog’s perspective. Yes, we may call it a ball, but what is a ball? What’s this? What’s this? Maybe humans are actually trying to embark on the Socratic method of dog communication?

Or maybe they are just full of hot air.

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