I didn't plan on living as intimately with dogs as I do at the rancho. I don't much like their continual scratching for fleas, slobbering and promiscuous licking, their barking at just about anything, and awakening me at midnight with their nightmare-inspired howls, or by loudly flapping their ears. However, when they saw me settle here they just joined me without an invitation, and I didn't have the heart to beat them away or even to yell at them. Besides, sometimes they're good company, and you've seen in this Newsletter that they do things I enjoy thinking about.

For instance, last week I wrote about the two hut-dogs, clumsy but well organized Katrina, and athletic but rattlebrained Negrita. Their example brought me into thoughts about how Nature compounds diversity by varying talents and predispositions of individuals within species.

This week I've expanded on that theme by wondering about the very premise of letting what I see and experience among dogs suggest insights or "teachings" that can be applied in completely different settings. Is it acceptable to think that the same diversity-creating impulses that engender the evolving Universe, cause Katrina and Negrita to be such different dogs just as it also results in klutzy but smart humans as well as physically superb but dumb ones?

To me, that's a worthy question because, if so, the insight that non-standard individuals represent one of the most deeply rooted impulses of the evolving Universe bestows an added measure of dignity to quirky folks, human and non-human. Differentness means diversity, and that's what the Universal Creative Impulse appears to be striving for.

Beyond that, by finding an extended meaning in the fact that there are two such different dogs around me, I've raised a question about myself: Why have I ended up spending so much time identifying patterns and paradigms, and trying to determine their teachings?

I think it's because my university training directed me toward specializing in one tiny corner of reality, and to avoid all forms of anthropomorphism -- and thinking that individual dogs might be different from one another for exactly the same reason that humans are different, is pure anthropomorphism. I think my teachers went too far in that. From what I can see, reality is so pregnant with mystery, is so complex and -- according to quantum mechanics in the framework of human thought -- irrational, that in our schooling first we need to become masters of generalities. Master generalities so we can step back and see patterns and paradigms that teach and reveal. Once we've accomplished that, we'll know what specialty to choose, if we're interested.

So, I'm agreeable to having dogs teach me philosophy. If I had the brains and the ear, maybe I'd as eagerly go to school in mathematics and music, and if earlier in life I'd learned sociability, maybe I'd find revelation among city dwellers. For... dogs, cities, music, math... it's all Nature, with the same basic diversity-making, dignity-bestowing creative impulse rampaging through all its parts equally.

One benefit of thinking like this is that I find myself -- even as a semi-hermit in a hut in the forest living with unceasingly scratching, sniffing, ear-flapping dogs -- as living in a majestically dignified, magical environment.