Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Men Are Dogs? Maybe...

You probably grew up with one of these, either in your immediately family, or at least on your street. The guy who had a man-cave space, usually in his garage. It was the place where the guys kicked back, the kids wanted to hang out, where Dad headed to when he just wanted to relax and listen to the ball game on the radio.

This morning, I was listening to the morning drive radio, and they started talking about these testosterone laden spaces, and one of the personalities mentioned that in a way, men really are dogs.

Well, more like wolves, anyway.

Why is it we like these little hideaways, these protected spaces of manhood? Maybe it's because we innately have a den animal lurking within us. We don't need a lot of space, just enough for a comfortable chair, a fridge and entertainment. When it's cold, give us a little space heater. Maybe a toaster oven or microwave for snacks. And we'll be happy!

We revel in our cozy surroundings, with the faint scent of motor oil and burnt electrical connections. All it usually needs is a "No girlz alloud" sign. From the Humane Society website:
Dogs are den animals. They need their own sanctuary that is just large enough for them to fit inside and feel secure. They need a "home away from home" where they can go when they are stressed. If you don't provide your dog a "den" of its own, it may make do with whatever is around -- a chair, the narrow place behind the couch, or the wedge of space between the bed and the wall.
A crate is an indoor doghouse that is used for brief periods of time. Its primary function is to serve as a bed or den. It can also be an ideal tool to housetrain your pet or to keep canines that suffer from separation anxiety from destroying the house while you run a few errands. However, the dog is not supposed to live in the crate. Endless hours in the crate can lead to severe social and isolation problems for your dog -- and it will no longer see the crate as a special retreat.

When you are home, your dog needs to be out with you. In fact, the crate should be kept in the room where the family spends most of its time. That way, your dog can seek refuge from the hubbub of household activity, yet still feel like a part of the family.

Once your dog realizes that the crate is a sanctuary and that no one can bother it while it is in its "den," your dog will begin to seek out the crate on its own. For more information on crate training, call your local animal shelter.
Now, every time you read "dog" in that little piece, think "man". There are some differences. The man-cave should not be in the same room as the rest of the family. Very counter productive. Otherwise, it's pretty darn close.

And while it's always the start of a joke to say that women travel to the bathroom in packs, I think we males are the true pack animals. If one of the guys has a good man-cave, we will all partake of its luxuries, enjoying our buddy's Fortress of Solitude. From the Wikipedia entry for "Dog":
Domestic dogs inherited a complex social hierarchy and behaviors from their wolf ancestors. Dogs are pack animals with a complex set of behaviors related to determining each dog's position in the social hierarchy, and they exhibit various postures and other means of nonverbal communication that reveal their states of mind.[2] These sophisticated forms of social cognition and communication may account for their trainability, playfulness, and ability to fit into human households and social situations, and these attributes have earned dogs a unique relationship with humans despite being potentially dangerous apex predators.
Again, you can pretty much substitute "man" here as well. Don't think there's a hierarchy? Most guy groups especially when assembled in the man-cave, include the jock (in charge of the sports programming); the mechanic (the guy with ALL the tools), the socially awkward dork (who also fixes all the other guys' computers) and the total screw-up who is still part of the group because he's a bro. Each has their usefulness - if only as a bad example. And they all fit into that complex social hierarchy.

As for nonverbal communication - the ladies could take lessons here. The subtle head nod to acknowledge another guy's presence. The fist bump to greet another of similar stature. The swagger of confidence - which often accompanies the loser in the group. All non-verbal cues.

We even have simplified communication, especially in the man-cave. One word is sufficient for a vast majority of communications between we human canines. "Dude". Example: Buddy opens fridge to get a beer. You say "Dude!". He looks. You give him the quick upward head tilt to signify "My good friend, I have a thirst which needs to be quenched. Please, be so kind as to obtain one of the frosty cold beverages which you have thoughtfully stocked, and pass it my way." Without a word, your buddy grabs a brew, and you sir, are doing fine. Recap: Dude. Head tilt. Receive beer. We are masters of the simple communication.

Yes, we men are easily compared to our four-legged friends. We are proud and stand together as brothers. Defend and protect, like the the noble and powerful wolf. Why the wolf? Because I ain't no damn chihuahua.

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