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Politics, Dogs, and Freedom

Posted on Monday, July 24, 2023
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by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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22 Comments
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Freedom

Sometimes lessons in freedom get taught at your elbow, on your doorstep. I have two dogs, one a Belgian sheepdog who thinks she is more special than anything she can think of, which is not much but enough. The other is a rescue mutt from Sochi, Russia, accidentally mine, who is humble, flop ear, just glad to be alive, and loves his freedom. Last week, they taught me about freedom.

Surrounded by woods, they get let outside morning and evening, wander a bit, come home. Generally, the Belgian – named Cassy – does her business, is back in a jiff, demands her treat. Meantime, the nationalized Russian mutt – fittingly named D’Artagnan – asks little, wanders a lot.

On occasion, I need to step out, shout his name into the woods. Before long, he is home, breathless. He loves life as much as the domesticated sheepdog loves hearth and home.

Their personalities could not be more different. She is a purebred, perpetually anxious, quivering at a passing snowplow, let alone thunder or fireworks. She needs comfort, and asks it often.

She is the product of intergenerational pampering, genetically engineered to be impatient, dependent on the government – which she defines as me, and utterly un-self-reliant. She is a BP, a Beautiful Person. We have never had “the discussion” so she does not know she is a dog.

Honestly, if I sat her down and went through this with her, explained the pecking order, my expectations of her as a dog, why all this fussiness is unnecessary, undignified, and out of order, she would listen politely, not believe a word of it, then demand more and softer treats.

He, meantime, is the reverse. Snowplows, thunder, and fireworks are nothing, so much better than those dark streets where starving dogs were killed to “clean up” for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. As far as he is concerned, he is living the dream, the American Dream.

As their benevolent dictator, my job is to be understanding of their respective views, which I am. I tolerate their wildly different expectations, the way a good Republican should, allowing Cassy to get away with zero intellectual curiosity, no wander lust, no interest in anything but good food, clean water, and all the government’s available affection.

Meantime, D’Artagnan’s swashbuckling, devil-may-care, let-me-run, musketeer mentality is tolerated, if not messing up work, travel, and life schedule. He seems to understand, no protests.

The only other animal in this drama is Grant, the parakeet both dogs taught to bark before I could stop that outrage, who seems to have lots to say about how the government treats everyone. He is their self-appointed activist, takes his role seriously, uses every right he has.

Here is where freedom comes in. Cassy, the timid purebred, defines freedom narrowly. She is happy to be dependent for everything, food to affection. To borrow from Theodore Roosevelt, she is one of those souls who neither overenjoys nor suffers much, content to “live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.” To fight seems to her a waste of time.

Cassy will bark if her brother barks, if the parakeet barks, if she thinks barking is what I want because the UPS driver pulled up, or if she thinks a good bark will earn her an approving pat. She is a good, smart, kind dog, always sharp – BP nose tip to tail.

D’Artagnan, meanwhile, is agreeable and humble, runs into the water after ducks he can never catch, looks at me plaintively if I insist he come out of rain. He is a born fighter, fetcher, lifts a front leg half up and looks into the woods for minutes at odd sounds. He loves his freedom.

Well, Cassy got the best of him this week, and I do not mean maybe. While she was dutifully brief in her outings, he took a long stroll. He wandered.

Finally, after a time, he appeared – and nearly knocked me over. He had apparently met a skunk, and lost. He was as pungent as a rotted carcass, mildewed laundry, dog-sized stinkbug.

Days of washing and rewashing, scrubbing, hosing, and repeating this process followed. I explained in stern tones to my musketeer that freedom has costs. You have to be thoughtful about how you use it. The American Dream comes with risks, and for dogs that means skunks.

Credit to his broadmindedness, he has not complained once. He just listens and lets me hose him down, aware that he goofed, only irritable when his sister goes into sneezing fits, and looks down her nose.

But here is the marvel. After all this, she is still happier at home, no interest in a wider wander, even to avoid the stench. Yet when I let him go, he looks up, and dashes off, forever glad of his gee-whiz freedom.

So far, I have not had the heart to pull him back, reduce him to a leash, tell him the world has porcupines, not to mention black bears, bobcats, fishers, and the odd lynx.

Truth is, he does not go far, does no harm, learned from that skunk. Freedom is good, but has risks. While she likes the government for regular treats, he still likes his freedom and I can understand why.  What rural America offers is better, every day of the week, than Sochi’s streets.

Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman for AMAC.

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SusanW
SusanW
11 months ago

What a great metaphorical article. Love your humor and that you treasure dogs/birds and let them live the dream, whether it be close to the hand or exploring the great outdoors! Very similar to my early life in Venezuela. My older sister was Cassy through and through and I very much was D’Artagnan. The jungle surrounding our small compound, would have been comparable to your woods. Great adventures! That’s where I was introduced to the gift of freedom. Something, I learned, never to take for granted. We very much need the Cassys, D’Artagnans and Grants of this world to make it complete, but I’m thrilled I’m the explorer of the family. It’s great fun! Have an adventurous and uncomplicated week! Thanks for such an enjoyable article to start this unpredictable week. Good omen.

Linda T.
Linda T.
11 months ago

What a fabulous analogy! I love your love and view of your dogs!!

John Bass
John Bass
11 months ago

I found comfort and huge smiles in your politics, dogs and freedom. You described my two dogs to a tee with the exception of their breeds. Your sheep dog Cassy is a mirror image of my Whippet named Meka, and your other dog D’Artagnan from Sochi describes my Rhodesian Ridgeback named Rowdy. The only difference is that Rowdy has more energy than ten dogs combined, hence the name Rowdy. He was purchased from an animal shelter when he was just a pup, he had already been returned twice by two different owners before my wife and I rescued him…all he needed was room to roam. Meka on the other hand is a purebred and she could easily be on the cover of a bag of dog food and she knows it.
I enjoy reading these light hearted, occasional life lessons you write about. Because if for no other reason, it’s a distraction from all the chaos in todays crazy mixed up world we now live in.
Thank you, and God save the USA

Melinda
Melinda
11 months ago

Wonderful metaphor! Thank you for it. Animals do indeed have their own, distinct personalities. They are a joy to watch and get to know.

SAW
SAW
11 months ago

Excellent read and very close to home in a slightly different way for us. Our Cassy is named Climber and your D’Artagnan is Butterball, both cats! Use your imagination with the name picking…
Thank you again for sharing!

Liz
Liz
11 months ago

GREAT read!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hoi
Hoi
11 months ago

LOVE this! Hits close to home … I do the same thing with mine, all “rescued” 57-Heinz’s 😉 Definitely need more of this genre 😉
God bless AMAC and God save America!

jeanette
jeanette
11 months ago

great story and great lessons 😉

Arlene
Arlene
11 months ago

Love it!

CLIFFORD F GERACI
CLIFFORD F GERACI
11 months ago

Well written.

Larry Ryan
Larry Ryan
11 months ago

The two best, loving, and loyal dogs I’ve ever had were my two Belgian Sheepdog brothers !!

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