Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The freedom of a puppy's soul

One of the things that Willow likes to do is romp on our bed. It's sort of a wrestling match and sort of a doggie massage session. During these sessions she will either wrap her jaws around my forearm or bite down on my sleeve without actually connecting with my arm.

That's a remarkable decision on her part. It means we can play with a little more rough-housing because we trust each other not to cause harm. We both know that as the one with sharper teeth, Willow could shred my arm to pieces. We both know that as the larger beast, I could probably inflict some significant damage on her. But we choose to play in a way that avoids those things.

There is a philosophical theory that the difference between a human and an animal is that a human has a soul and the ability to know and choose right from wrong. But if Willow does not possess these qualities, how does she know not to chew my hand off? How does a beast with no soul develop the ability to play, and play safe?

No, this is a special creature with a sense of whimsy and a spirit of joy. Perhaps it's a stretch to conclude that my companion is a gentle soul based on the observation that my hand remains attached to my wrist. But I reject the notion that there is no soul behind those devoted eyes.

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