I have to check myself from my predator instincts, but my dog doesn’t.
We got our dog, Lincoln, from a shelter when he was three months old, so I can’t say what the first three months of his life were like. I have no idea if he was born in the shelter, if he was surrendered by his previous owner, or if he was a rough-and-tumble street puppy who had to make his own way before the dog catcher got him. All I know is that from puppyhood until now, five years down the road, his life has been seriously cushy. He may tell you that we starve him by occasionally making him wait up to five whole minutes past his regular dinner time, but I promise you, he lives a life of leisure.
He has commandeered our fluffiest blankets, staked a claim on a full third of the sofa, and has enough toys to satisfy a battalion of K-9 officers.
The point of all this introduction is to tell you that no one that I’m aware of has ever introduced him to the concept of hunting. And yet, his instinct for the hunt is so keen it’s like he could teach upper-level college classes.
Chipmunks are his favorite prey. He stalks them with his little sniffer nose then digs digs digs, dirt flying, until he breaks through to their underground bunkers. Likely by this time they’ve heard his approach and come out of another entrance to the tunnel. I can usually see them escaping, but he is a focused dog on a mission and he can’t be bothered using his eyes when his nose is so full of the intoxicating scent of Eau du Alvin.
For Lincoln, hunting is purely recreational. He’s only ever caught a chipmunk once, and I think it surprised him more than it panicked the chipmunk. For a lot of animals, though, it’s survival. Lincoln gets his food in kibble form, with the occasional biscuit and spoonful-of-peanut butter. In the wild, it’s a harsh kill-or-be-killed environment.
I think about that a lot. Whenever we watch documentaries or cartoons we always root for the chase-ee instead of the chase-er. We cheer if the baby antelope with the wonky leg manages to get away from the lion; we laugh when the coyote gets an anvil dropped on his head. But lions and coyotes gotta eat. Why don’t we care about the rumbling bellies of lions and coyotes? Is that the whole punching up not down thing? Root for the underdog, not the apex predator?
Lions gonna lion, coyotes gonna coyot, and dogs gonna dog. Sure, Lincoln doesn’t need to kill any chipmunks because I take care of his nutritional needs via bowls of Meaty Pebbles, but didn’t those pebbles used to be cows? Is there really a difference between grinding up cow parts in a factory somewhere that I can’t see and Lincoln following the call of his canine soul and effectively hulking out? I know he doesn’t speak English, but in his brain, the minute he gets a whiff of chipmunk, instead of “HULK SMASH” he does the bark-woof equivalent of “LINCOLN HUNT”.
I’m not into gratuitous killing, so I’m not going to help him find the chipmunks. I’ll pay attention and command, “Drop it!” the second he goes in for the whatever he thinks he’s going in for. But I’m not going to tell him not to be a dog.
Who’s a perfect little apex predator? Is it you? You and your little toe beans? You and your little boopable nose? Yes you are, sweet boy. C’mere and let me give you belly rubbin’s.
 I find this impossible to imagine, as he is the cutest, sweetest, most perfect dog in every way.
 The difference is whether your narrator is Sir David Attenborough or Elmer Fudd
 He doesn’t, but he understands a lot more English than I understand Dog.
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Lori B. Duff is an award-winning author who practices law on the side. Her latest book, “If You Did What I Asked in the First Place” was awarded the Gold Medal for humor in the Foreword INDIES awards in 2019. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook. For more blogs written by Lori, click here. For more information about Lori in general, click here. If you want Lori to do your writing for you, click here. If you want Lori to help you market your book, click here.