When it is sunny out, Bow enjoys lounging in the sun. But this morning, it is quite foggy.
So Bow is napping on his blanket.
Wherever he is, Bow is secure in the knowledge that he is loved and protected.
However, this does not mean that I can never leave him. I have periodically taken a week off and gone someplace else and left him in the care of interns he knew or of Lawrence, and he was still secure in the knowledge that he was cared for and loved and that I would be back.
|Ezooz eating raw meat on his birthday|
Behind him: myself and my friend Haya
I have been thinking about the recent dogma that has surrounded what exactly owners owe their dogs, and it reminded me of Ezooz, a dog I knew in my childhood, but who was not ours. He belonged to an academician who lived in Jerusalem, but when his owner went on sabbatical to the United States for a year, he left Ezooz in our care. We lived in Rehovoth, and my father worked at the Weizmann Institute, and we could not commit to a dog full time, because we traveled, too. But it just so happened that we were able to provide Ezooz with a temporary home for a year, until his master returned and reclaimed him and took him back to Jerusalem, where he lived with his first family until he died of old age.
Two of Ezooz's offspring and myself
Is that all right, by current standards about what a dog is owed by a family? I'm not sure. Because while Ezooz was with us he had many adventures, and he did things that maybe current standards of dog care would not allow:
- He was not fixed, and he roamed free, and when a female went into heat anywhere in Rehovoth, he would be gone for a few days and then come back.
- He fathered at least one litter of puppies that we know of, while with us. It was with a stray female that lived on the property adjoining the house where we lived.
- He ate a diet of raw chicken heads and other uncooked bones and discards of meat that we got at the butcher shop. Today, Americans are convinced that dogs should not eat bones -- and especially not raw chicken bones.
- We let him have chocolate, because nobody told us that was poison for dogs, and it did not kill him.
- He hated dogs that looked or smelled like poodles, and he did attack one such dog, fatally wounding him,
- He hated religious Jews (dressed in black clothing from a different era and with side curls and long beards), and when any of them came around, he chased them away.
- He barked at horses and donkeys. There were still wagons drawn by such animals that occasionally passed by in the street.
We did not teach him any of these behaviors, and when we found out about them, we tried to moderate his behavior so he would not hurt anyone. But we were not overly protective, and we did not chain him in our unfenced yard or require him to stay in the house all day, taking him out on walks on a lead. In fact, I don't ever remember him being on a lead. He was always free, and he always came home to us because he wanted to, even though he knew we were not his masters, and that his real owner was away.
Ezooz at my friend's house: he was not on a leash
and neither was I
My father took Ezooz to work with him, and Ezooz was even listed as a co-author on a physics paper that my father wrote during that period.
I also was allowed to roam without supervision. I sometimes think that in order to have free range children, you also need to have free range dogs. Today, though, my dogs do not roam. They are fenced in. And Bow and Sword also do not roam, because we would get in trouble if they did.
We visited Ezooz in Jerusalem in his forever home once, and we brought him butter to eat, because he really liked butter. He remembered us, but he was clearly happy with his real owner. I think we all did right by Ezooz, and he had a good life.
In contrast, Ezooz's master had three children, all of them adults. His two daughters we met, but the son was mentally retarded and institutionalized. Ezooz had a forever home in his master's house, but his son, a human, did not.
It's really strange the way things turn out, and how society's standards are different in different eras and locales. In those days, you never saw mentally retarded children in school, not in Israel, anyway, and today, they are not even called that, anymore. It is very possible that Ezooz's human brother would have been diagnosed as autistic if he were born today, and his treatment would be very different. But if Ezooz were born today in the US, would he have been allowed to roam? Become a father? Author a physics paper? Eat raw chicken bones and chocolate? And would his master be considered a bad person for leaving Ezooz with someone else for a year or institutionalizing his son?
I think we judge people too harshly. Standards that change all the time cannot be moral absolutes. We have to let people make their own decisions, and in order to live free in a free world or a free country, we should not dictate to others. This does not mean that mistakes will not be made. It just means that people have a chance to make their own mistakes, instead of those dictated by society's shifting social norms.