A Meditation on Grass Kicking

As many of you know, I find my four-legged friend Bodhi a consistent source of inspiration. My blog is full of stories about dog shit,  leash training, etc.

I also know that many of you are inspired by your pups. My newsfeed is full of dog photos and videos and heartwarming stories of these amazing creatures who regularly outdo us humans in humor, compassion and sometimes intellect.

One of the inspirational dog related memes I see popping up again and again these days is “Kick some grass over that shit, and move on.”

Now I have had a thing or two I have needed to move on from in the last few years, so I ate this recommendation right up. YES Facebook. Click the thumbs up button. Click the little heart button, or, on a particularly resentful day, click Share and add a snarky comment.

Bodhi and I are doing more walking now that spring weather is here, so I’ve had more opportunity to observe his grass kicking behavior. Sometimes it seems half-hearted- an afterthought. Other times, he is so aggressive about it he scratches muddy holes in the grass or throws leaves all over us both.

The one aspect of this kicking ritual that is absolutely consistent is that it is completely ineffectual at covering up his shit.

So that got me thinking, is he just REALLY bad at this?  I mean, I get it. If I’m taking the meme’s advice to heart, I am 100% in his camp on this one. I kick and kick, and everyone in town can still very clearly see the stuff I’m trying to leave behind.

The kicking actually just draws attention to it really.

So, then I started to wonder if there was something else going on in this behavior for us both?

According to animal biologists and behaviorists who actually research such things (rather than just sit around and pontificate about them like I do), dogs are doing more than attempting to cover their shit and walk away when they do all that scratching and kicking. It turns out,  that with every kick and scratch, the dogs are actually marking their territory.

Mind blown.

Dogs have little scent glands in their paws, and when they kick up the grass, they’re not doing it to move on. They’re doing it to tell OTHER dogs that might wander by later when they’re not around to MOVE ON cause that shit right there is theirs.

Hmmm. I wonder. I wonder if a little bit of territory marking is actually what’s going on when I do things like share a meme about moving on or recount my story of all the ways I’ve been wronged and/or all the wrongs I’ve done.

Do I really want to move on?  Or am I paying lip service to covering up my “shit” and moving on while what I’m actually doing is marking my territory, putting my scent all around it so that anyone who even wanders by the people or places where my shit went down will stay away.

If that’s what’s actually at work in me, and I suspect sometimes it is, it’s nothing to be proud of. It’s instinct just as it is for Bodhi. And while instinct is all well and good, it’s certainly not as the meme seems to suggest- that the grass kickers are somehow taking the moral high ground and getting on with their more dignified lives.

It seems to me that  those of us who’ve been through some things and really do want and need to move on would be best served to STOP kicking the grass rather than by kicking it.

So the next time I’m tempted to “like and share” the grass kicking meme, I’ll remember how embarrassing it feels to stand beside Bodhi as passersby watch him throwing grass and leaves all over us both while covering not a single bit of his shit, and I’ll do my level best not to imitate him.

Bless our hearts 😉

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