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January 2, 2017 / Congau

Would You Rather Be a Happy Dog?

A happy dog is an enviable creature – for other dogs. We humans cannot envy it. We may perhaps admire this animal for having reached the highest achievement of the canine species, but never, never can we envy it. We are human. We are unhappy human beings, but we are human. We know something that the dog doesn’t know. We have sniffed at a happiness of which the dog cannot have the slightest idea.

It is true that happiness is the highest aim for all living creatures, but the kind of happiness that each species can achieve is of course different. A perfectly happy dog would be much less happy than a perfectly happy human being and if that is right, it may also be the case that a half happy person may be happier than a fully happy dog. Accordingly it is logically possible that even a miserable person wins the comparison.

In a way we can understand the dog, but it has no understanding for us. When it finds pleasure in gnawing on a bone, we recognize our own satisfaction for a good meal, and when it has fun chasing a stick, we see ourselves in simple games. We can also doze off on a soft pillow and enjoy the warm sunshine in spring.

But that is not enough for us. The pleasure and happiness given us through such animal acts are nothing compared to our truly human joys. If you were a dog, you would have to renounce those good books, Beethoven’s ninth and your dear stamp collection or whatever you enjoy the most in life. True, as a dog you would not miss those things, but now that you know what they are, it is unimaginable to give them away. You know the pleasures of a dog already for to a certain extent you have them yourself and you know the kind of happiness they can bring, but it is nothing compared to what really makes you happy.

Even the unhappiest human being is capable of feeling a happiness that is unavailable for the dog, and that is enough to want to be human.

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