Of Cheeseburgers and Tennis Balls

Yes this is a receipt from an actual ordering/eating experience of mine recently. I’m not proud of it. But it made me think: only humans can be this self-destructive. Horses and some other animals will eat until they bust a gut (literally), if given the opportunity; but that’s only because they’re herbivores who in the wild pretty much needed to eat whenever they could grab a snack. We humans don’t have that excuse.

Although it’s sometimes said that dogs will eat themselves to death, most owners know this isn’t the case. Yes if your pup gets into a pile of steak after only eating dry kibble for five years he’ll probably ¬†gorge himself sick, but that’s purely because of the novelty. I’ve known one dog who was fed ground beef every day and would turn his nose in disgust if you showed it to him before you finished cooking it! What a food snob! (R.I.P. and props to Gaspar, if anyone else in his pack is listening.)

I find dogs to exemplify an amazing mix of pure pleasure-seeking id-satisfaction, on the one hand, and healthy, natural, balanced psychology and behavior on the other. This is my dog Turtle’s version of gluttony:

Turtle’s pot of gold.

Of course some dogs have unhealthy obsessions – over food, beds, bones, toys… I’ve recently been working with a pit-bull obsessed with car tires. (He chews them until his gums bleed.) But in most cases these urges can be channeled in healthy directions. Although dogs are all about doing what’s pleasurable, normal dogs with proper outlets stop playing when they’re tired, stop eating when they’re full, and stop guarding when they feel safe.

Dogs won’t go near coffee or cigarettes. And though I know some who like the foam off a fresh Guinness, none I know of will intentionally drink themselves silly.
A certain amount of hedonism is not only natural and healthy, it’s undeniably at least part of what life’s all about. But most of us would be both healthier AND happier if we could learn to regulate our pleasure-seeking behaviors the way dogs seem to do so naturally (and without paying a shrink).
At least then we wouldn’t end up looking like this:

(courtesy of a very unpleasant iPhone app called “Fat Booth”)


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