Recently, I've been thinking that I'd really like to be a dog. Some less charitable folk might say I'm already one, or a sarky bitch at any rate, but I don't mean that.
I'm looking at my beautiful Jack Russell Terrier, Widget, reclining in a patch of sun. Her warmer weather coat is shiny and sleek (and yes the remnants of her winter coat continue to be liberally distributed all over my clothes, car seats, duvet and every other surface), her little pink tummy has spotty freckles, and, bar the odd reflex twitch of paw or flick of ear, she's zoned out in peace.
But it's not just the lazing in the sun aspect of her being that I envy. It's the straightforward live for the moment mind think of dogs that is so appealing. To be able to run free, to be able to experience pure joy and delight in the smallest simplest things like sticks and balls. To not worry about what people think or say or one's self image, status, job security and perilous finances or what the future holds. To be able to love, be loyal and trust unconditionally. To be grateful for the essentials of life and not be striving for more materialistic baubles. How liberating is that?
Of course Widget, like all animals, experiences different emotions. She's scared of bull breed dogs and gets extremely cross with other dogs who try to steal her ball. She's fiercely competitive - anything the bigger dogs can do, she wants to do- and gets frustrated when she can't do it. What Widget lacks in size, she makes up for with noise and energy. She can be irrational (why are wheelie bins viewed as such potential threats?), irritating (it's a leaf, you don't need to bark at it) and annoyingly insensitive (no I don't want to play with a squeaky tennis ball at midnight thanks Widget) but her motives and actions are transparent and honest.
At home in the capital, when stuck in a seething snarl of traffic, I seem to be surrounded by angry contorted faces full of rage and hate for anyone attempting to encroach upon 'their' inch of Tarmac. A hideous video of a teenage girl mercilessly beating a peer goes viral on social media with many of it's accompanying comments being as vile as the act itself. Be it a former pop singer banging on that fat people should be made to even more feel uncomfortable about themselves by only being able to buy clothes at specialist shops (presumably called Shame On You Fatty) or Katie Hopkins advocating euthanasia vans, with ice cream van chimes naturally, for the elderly, our society seems to have a constant undercurrent of simplistic condemnation and sheer nastiness. It's seemingly ok for the rich to titter about people who have to use food banks, fair game to vilify the poor/vulnerable/sick/disabled as benefit 'scroungers', fine to launch snipes of hatred about immigrants, or faith groups or seemingly anything or anyone who is vulnerable or stepping outside of a rigid unwritten set of societal norms.
Whatever happened to acceptance and tolerance? Why is personal greed and hatred so publically rampant? It's true that hate, greed and intolerance has run through history like a vein but at the moment it feels like it's an open season for attacking others and that greed, selfishness and spite is very much 'on trend'.
So I'm all for taking the canine approach to life. Live and let live, live for the moment and to have as few regrets as possible.
If only it was as easy to do as it is to write it...