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The truth of it is that I like dogs more than I like people.

Updated: Sep 7, 2023

I am surprisingly content with the relationship I have with my faithful four-legged servant but I wonder should I step into the world and try to make some human friends?

~ Danny

Hi Danny,

Dogs are great and I applaud your honesty. Humans can be tiresome.

Let’s pause for a moment and think of a future with some anti-advice: don’t do anything. You and the dogs forever. In the life-as-a-movie framework I espouse, you would be living the dog-film dream. Except for one thing: it would be dreadfully boring.

Dogs are cute and loyal but the truth is that in the dramatic world, they are exceedingly dull. Unless, of course, you’re a dog and it’s a world of canine cinema, a cinema made by dogs for dogs with filmmakers like Federico Dogillini. In this world, stories would center on eating and going for walks with a few squirrel chase scenes thrown in. There might be a sequence of an attempted leg hump at the dog park capped with a climatic crating sequence; maybe a montage of driving with the window down…

Danny, I predict your dog movie–your future life– just won’t cut it. Why? Because in human movie terms, the dog movie you’re in is all about circumstance, the everyday. Despite their intelligence, dogs lack imagination. Imagination allows us bipeds to see a world that hasn’t existed. It then informs all sorts of emotional appendages like attitude, ambition, worry, excitement– the list goes on. It is the attribute that gives rise to awareness, goals, evil empires, great deeds, and the best birthday you ever had as a child. And, most importantly, It makes great stories and movies.

Big deal, you might say. “Rover and Me is the movie I like.” Okay, but again, you’re human– a different animal. Not a dog. Your imagination and all its extras won't just go away. They will nag you and eat at you despite the best dog-days.

If we look at our world through a Hollywood frame, suspend disbelief, and see the filmed version of our lives, the beginning of the important stories are usually mired in circumstances that are untenable. This everyday is underpinned by something screenwriters call unfinished business. This is the hero bound up with feelings of dissatisfaction and dissonance. Something is missing from their lives, unresolved. In The Wizard of Oz, the movie opens with Dorothy deeply unsatisfied with her narrow and stifled existence on a farm in Kansas.

The recent series on Netflix, BEEF, tracks two very frustrated and disenchanted, yet deeply contrasting Asian Americans, one in Calabasas and one in low-rent L.A. county, trying desperately to find a route out of their funk. I’m three episodes in and they’re still deeply dissatisfied and confused.

Sometimes the unfinished business is not obvious, or the main character is in a state of delusion or denial. A perfect example of this is Jerry Maguire. Here, the movie begins with Tom Cruise playing the titular character at the top of his game in L.A., a sports agent with 72 clients and 264 phone calls a day. His circumstances are all good. But this all comes to a screeching halt when one of his client’s kids tells him to fuck off after he ignores the gravity of the football-playing dad’s fourth concussion.

It is from this moment that the movie launches and Jerry Maguire goes from smug and seemingly content to unsure and hating his “place in the world.” Alas, the story gives him a way to see his shortcomings and he falls in love and learns to deepen his relationships with other humans and his life’s work.

I am not suggesting you hate your place in the world, Danny, but I will go out on a limb and say it’s not perfect. To ask the question, “Should I step into the world and try to make some human friends?” is ample proof that your world lacks the most important relationships human animals can have, which are the ones we have with other humans. (Unless you’re a psychopath and in that case, you’re on your own.) Remember the famous line from Jerry Maguire? “You complete me.” Yeah, that’s in reference to another human. Not a dog.

Whatever your film might be, now is the time to consider that you’re in the opening credits, the funk is on– even though you seem happy– and it’s time to become aware. It’s okay, take your time. There is no hurry. Luxuriate in the dissonance, walk the dog, watch BEEF, stay away from humans, but get ready. Something is going to happen. You’ll meet someone, happen upon some news, a text will come out of the blue, or a kid will hit you with “fuck you.” It’s then– BTW, this is the catalyst that launches us from circumstance into a story– that you and your dog will step into the human world and your imagination will be ignited.

And what a world it is! This is a world like in The Wizard of Oz that goes from black and white to technicolor. One where we feel, flourish, and are challenged. As writer, director, and star of your movie, anything is possible. Including uncovering what’s missing in your life that makes a dog’s company so important. If Cameron Crowe, writer and director of Jerry Maguire, can find the story in a young and successful sports agent, you can find it in a guy who spends too much time with a dog. It’s time to step out, Danny, leave the dog at home and make the best movie you’ve ever seen. Good luck and don’t forget to pick up after Rover!

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