“Joie de vivre” – literally the “joy of life”.
A “joie de vivre” is sometimes noticed in people but, all too often, they are so caught up in their personal challenges that “joie de vivre” would be extremely inaccurate. How many people do you expect to meet (or did you meet) today who are just overflowing with life? Perhaps one? Maybe none!
Dogs are so different. They are generally just so happy with the basics of life.
I came up the stairs from the basement this morning at around 7:15am and, as expected, Ray was waiting for me behind the gate at the top. I am sure that he was pleased to see me but, of course, one needs to keep that in perspective because I am also his “ticket” for breakfast!
We had our usual greeting which consists of him butting me with his nose, and I then give him a few seconds of vigorous petting. After that, I opened the back door for him to go outside and pee.
I watched him from our back window and saw a classic display of “joie de vivre”! He was obviously looking for an attractive place to pee but, while he was looking, he was leaping around like a spring lamb! He found his spot and peed, and then bounded back to the pathway and up the steps where I had the door already open for him.
For anybody used to a large dog, what I saw was probably an every day occurrence but, to me, it was really fascinating to watch so much physical enthusiasm and energy from a dog weighing close to 80 lbs!
He bounded into the kitchen and paced around a little while I prepared his breakfast and, as soon as he saw me heading over to his mat (where his bowl goes), he started leaping around again!
While he was emptying his bowl, I was peeling the skin off a piece of rutabaga. I was about half way through peeling when Ray arrived at my side and the excitement in his face was obvious! Needless to say, he bounced along beside me as I went over to his (now empty) bowl and dropped the pieces in!
Now is the time when I think about by second cup of coffee and perhaps some toast but, within a few moments, Ray was again at my side with a very excited look. “What do you want buddy?” ( a redundant question really!), made him leap through a 180 degree turn and run into his den where he promptly lay down with front paws crossed.
He knew, just as well as I knew, that his final breakfast course (a tartar control biscuit) was always served in his den! He then left me alone to take care of my coffee and toast, at least until I started eating the toast. Then he casually walked over and sat right in front of me; held amazing eye contact. and placed one paw on my leg.
“Joie de vivre”? Ray certainly has it, and I feel so guilty at times that I see it everyday while others are only seeing the unpleasant aspects of their world.
So what does it take to display a “joie de vivre”? All Ray appears to need is the freedom to be himself; to be able to do his job (protecting us!); to be accepted and loved as part of the family; to have a secure and warm shelter, and regular food and water.
Sounds like Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs to me! I wonder how it is that canines can grasp the concept that happiness is basic needs being filled, but so many humans cannot?