I am a fan of experiences that make me question reality. Imagine getting ready to lift a heavy container. You flex your muscles and lift, only to discover that the container is empty. Your brain panics for a split second as it tries to reconcile your previous perception of the container’s weight with the reality of the empty vessel in your hands. Experiences like this are a rarity, for our perceptions of the world have been reinforced through years of conditioning. Water in a river will be cold to the touch. Fire will be hot. Heavy things are heavy. We expect our world to be predictable.
Some things are never predictable though. Spill paint and try to predict where it will splatter. There is a randomness to life that is reassuring, for strict order would make living unbearable to even the most committed of control freaks. Still, this randomness is in itself, reliable. We can rely on the fact that splattered paint will create a different pattern every time. There are certain laws to which the universe is bound. In certain cases, where order might otherwise lead us to madness, randomness is key. If every sunset were identical, then none of them would be spectacular.
Life with a puppy is a mixture of predictability and randomness; order and chaos. A puppy will grow, be silly, play and love. She will also nibble, chew, and make a mess of damn near everything while she learns the rules. While the acts themselves may seem random, they will occur with certainty assuming the puppy leads a relatively normal life. Try though to predict where the puppy’s drool will end up when she shakes her head and you will see the inherent randomness found within the universe. While you can safely assume that most of the drool will end up on the floor, this is simply the nature of gravity. Where on the floor it resides is a far more complicated matter.
Trying to determine where drool lands is not an act that calls reality into question. Big dogs drool, and the drool goes everywhere. My reality is filled with proof — I don’t need to study the matter any further. We need a different type of experience to test reality. For a truly jarring experience akin to lifting a surprisingly empty container, we need only one thing; a special kind of dog. We need a dog that that cares not for the rules of nature, nor for the equations that describe the laws of physics. Luckily, I know of such a dog.
I am a 45 year old writer and science buff who thinks he has a pretty fair grasp on reality. Sure there might be zombies outside the fence at night, but until you can prove to me that there are not zombies, their existence is, at the very least, a possibility. One fine night I opened the sliding glass door in the dining room to call the dogs. Upon opening said door I saw dog number one laying on the deck wagging like the good boy that he is. Guinness thumped to me his lazy Hi Daddy – I like you but you’re not the Mommy greeting that I so often receive. Not seeing Annie, I leaned my head out a bit and looked to the left where I should have been able to see the entire back yard. Only instead of the yard, I found myself looking eye to eye with dog number two; Annie, resident she-beast with the newfound ability to bend time and space.
For one reality bending second, I looked into the eyes of the mischievous one year old Landseer. She was smirking. So help me she was smirking! My brain clicked into high gear and tried to reconcile the perceived discrepancy that had lead me to question reality, and thus my very sanity. The logical process initiated by my brain unfolded as follows, all in the span of 1/10th of a second:
- Annie is a dog
- Annie is a big dog
- I am six feet tall
- Annie, though a big dog, is not six feet tall
- Annie is looking me in the eye
- Kate Beckinsale is hot
- Can dogs fly? No
- Am I kneeling? No
- Is Annie on her hind legs? No
- I wonder if Kate Beckinsale likes dogs
- Is Annie a werewolf? No – my tests ruled that out last week.
- If I’m six feet tall, and Annie is not, then how can she look me in the eye?
- Have I fallen? No
- What would Kate Beckinsale do?
- I bet she would tell me that Annie’s sitting on the storage box
- I wonder if… wait… what?
Annie had chosen to sit on the large plastic outdoor storage box on the deck. We have since witnessed her on the patio table as well. Why? Because she’s Annie. Apparently being Annie involves a blatant disregard for anything regarding normalcy. There seems to be no other reason that we could discern. She just likes to be different. Annie came to us from a rescue foster home where she spent the first few months of her life with not only other dogs, but cats as well. She seems to have taken the characteristics and mannerisms that appealed to her from each species. Then again I think Annie is simply ammused when I am forced to question my own sanity. I wonder what Kate Beckinsale would think.