Canine Karma

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is going to have to “drop out of character” for this post. (He thought it “sounded” weird doing it in his normal third person style…)

So, I’ve got a dog. She is a mutt. Part Whippet and part Lab. We got her at the pound. She was six months old, had a bad rash that made some of her fur fall out, and was pretty pathetic overall.

Did I mention that she was also named “Tequila” at the time?

We took her home and changed her name and proceeded to love on her. That was 2001.

She has been one of the best dogs ever. She is smart enough to learn and obey a number of commands. She is dumb enough to remain cute and never give you pause to think that she’s trying to outsmart you in anything. She has survived three kids who have tried to ride her, pull her tail and otherwise molest her. Her temperament is everything one could ever want from a dog.

Two years ago she was running through the woods and got a cut on her right hind leg. We treated it topically and wrapped it up. It seemed to heal pretty well.

Then she started to lick her healing wound.

Before too long it became a large, swollen, infected mess. We took her to the Vet. She got a steroid shot and some antibiotics. Everything cleared up. But after a few months she started licking again and got the leg into a swollen, infected mess. So it was back to the Vet. More steroids. More drugs. Recovery! Then the licking started again… Eventually in addition to drugs and steroids she got “doggie downers.” This cocktail of drugs worked for a while. Eight months or so. But it hasn’t stopped…

Basically… My dog is OCD and licks herself to infection and great pain.

We keep treating her, but my wife and I lament that she is just dumb to keep hurting herself like this. Then again… She’s a dog.

The other day I was sitting in my chair reading and rubbing the dog with my feet. I stopped reading and thought about karma. I am not a Buddhist, or Hindu, or new-agey person so I don’t “believe” (in a religious sense) in karma. Sometimes “believing” in karma makes me feel better about myself or things happening in the outside world.

But I was thinking about my dog’s karma. I thought that if you consider karma and reincarnation together what would explain my dog? If she was a person in a past life, what could she have done wrong to deserve to come back as a dog? Then again, life with my family is a pretty good gig for a dog. She is fed, groomed, loved on and well-treated. That is a pretty good life all in all. Then I considered the leg. Was she being karmically punished for a past life? Had the wheel of fate placed her (even as a dog) in too good a position in life and was karma “fixing” the problem by making her OCD and inflicting suffering on herself where none had to exist?

Then I considered something else. Perhaps it was my karma to inflict suffering in her. Perhaps I am the problem in this equation.

Then I figured that considering this was too much for someone who doesn’t really believe in karma anyway.

So I got up and poured myself a Makers and ginger ale and went back to my book.

Carry on.

Mrs.Peperium said:

Maybe you should get a karma chameleon and call it George.

Mr.Peperium said:

Maker’s and ginger ale, eh? I knew a bar tender once who purveyed something he called a “Santos Special”, possibly because he was named Santos.

You start with your bourbon of choice; back when I knew Santos this was Jim Beam, with an occasional splurge on Wild Turkey. On top of a couple of ounces of that (in a tall glass) you add Vernor’s Ginger Ale–like production lines and 50% illiteracy, a Detroit original. Top this off with the juice of a quarter of a lime, squeezed and dropped in.

There you have it. They sell Vernor’s here, oddly enough. But our budget can only handle the local grocery store chain bourbon in the handy-dandy 1.75 Liter plastic jug. Don’t think for a moment that I’m complaining. It runs $15.99 ($13.99 at Christmas) and is actually, so the liquor manager informs me, Evan Williams under the store label. I’m always enjoyed the distinctive vanilla undercurrent of E. Williams’ product.

So I guess it’s my karma to move to a place where it’s an easy thing to make Santos Specials. And that’s somehow involved in your karma–and, by extension, your dog’s–otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this post.

Heh. Perhaps I should… I would have to make sure it was a girl chameleon though.

Kevin Kim said:

For a second, there, I thought I was going to read that something had recently happened to the dawg. Thank goodness that wasn’t the case, because she’s a great pet.

As for karma, well… there are so many different conceptions of karma, even within Buddhism, that you’d be hard pressed to pick which version appeals to you most. My own preference is the naturalistic interpretation: karma simply refers to action: cause and effect. Pick up a cigarette, and you start yourself down a certain path. Keep on smoking cigarettes, and you confirm and reinforce the strictures of the path you’ve chosen.

As to whether the dawg was a naughty person in a previous life…here, too, Buddhism is ambivalent in its attitude toward animals. On the one hand, there’s literature that denigrates animals because they merely follow their base desires (they live in the kama-dhatu, the desire-realm), which is no way to elevate oneself from the grinding wheel of samsara. On the other hand, plenty of Zen literature praises animals for their no-nonsense suchness: they simply are; they simply do. This is similar to Proverbs 6:6, where we read, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise!”

You’re right, though: if becoming a dog is “punishment” for a previous existence, then your pooch lucked out by ending up with your family. Hope she’s OK.

Mr P. I am sorry that this took forever to put up on the blog. Your comment got stuck in some sort of loop and I never noticed it until today.

I like the Evan Williams product too. When I was in KY last year I was pleased to learn how many different brands of bourbon a particular distillery might produce. Only Makers makes only their own product.

I make my bourbon and ginger with “Northern Neck Ginger Ale.” The Northern Neck is the area here in VA between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers. You can only find NNGA in the Northern Neck. My home is on the extreme western edge of their distribution area.

I should try mine with a splash of lime juice to see how I like it.

I normally reserve my lime juice for the Cuba Libre’s I tend to enjoy in summer. (I make my Cuba Libre with 1 part white rum, 3 parts Coke, splash of lime juice, and a small float of 151 Bacardi on top.)

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