Some may be, of course; I can only speak for those I know, like me and Beloved.
Dogs make friends at a wag of the tail and a sniff at the backside. The result: intimate friendship for life. Millie climbs up the hill of the castle bailey and plays look-out on all sides of the flat hill top, ears cocked, tail stretched out expectantly and body poised for a run; all for the sake of a friendly romp. She all but gives a shrill whistle of joy when she spies a mate and instantly hurtles down the bank in an ecstasy of anticipation fulfilled.
In spite of having mentioned in a recent post that there were few invitations during the festive season, things have changed again; we’ve already had three during the first two weeks of January. You’d think I’d be grateful and feel appreciated. Up to a point I do but, sadly, it is in my nature to examine a good thing first and put up with it only after an ungracious grumble.
Beloved and I have the best conversations over breakfast. After the third invitation plopped on to the mat, this is how we dealt with it.
"Oh dear, another drinks/dinner party; seems everybody is catching up after Christmas."
"Really? Who is it?" Beloved’s reply, non-committal, is slightly less ungracious than my remark.
"I think that the more you meet some people the less you have to say to them, so why bother? Why make the effort; why tire yourself out with aimless small talk? I am sure I’ve said everything I have to say many times already and I could certainly tell you what Joe Bloggs is going to say before he opens his mouth."
"That’s a little harsh, don’t you think? Man is surely a gregarious animal by nature who seeks the company of others; there is also comfort in familiarity. Just look at a basket of puppies. They tumble and romp and cuddle up together for warmth and companionship and play, getting to know each other and their reactions intimately. They never get tired of each other."
A basket full of puppies as an analogy for the behaviour of humans? Sure, why not? I can live with that.
"Of course, I know how you feel," Beloved continued, "I don’t need to tell you that I feel just the same. But just think of all the lovely gossip you’d miss if you never saw anyone."
The prospect of gossip cheered me up.
"Okay, I’ll accept, shall I?" Not that I have the option to turn the invitation down. That would not only be unkind but also extremely rude. Much better to think of a pressing reason for non-attendance nearer the time, if necessary.
I have never in all my life had an intimate friend; I wouldn’t know how to go about creating such a relationship. An only child, with parents who miserly, yet proudly “kept themselves to themselves”, I was never properly socialised, much like my darling Benno-boy, who ignored all other dogs after a very cursory sniff. He had spent his formative years (do dogs have formative years?) shut up all day long in a small apartment and was only taken out early mornings and late evenings, until he came to us. It was too late to retrain him, as it was too late to retrain myself after a lonely childhood, a restless and destructive first marriage during which permanent embarrassment precluded close contact with anyone outside the family. And then I go and marry another hermit! Who said, when I bemoaned my lack of a soul mate: “Don’t be silly. What are we, you and me, if not soul mates.” He’s right, of course. He usually is.
Sometimes we get together for a meal or a drink with people who are a joy to be with, although we are by no means on close terms. The best occasions are those when stimulating conversations, totally free ranging, natural and uninhibited, involving every member of the group, leave you refreshed and animated and wanting more. I am not so fond of conversations with people whose superior intellect leaves you drained. You’ve paddled so hard to keep up - that is if they take breath long enough for you to add your tuppence' worth; people of superior intellect are fully aware of their superiority and dislike anyone else having an opinion - that, at the end of the evening, you are exhausted from the sheer effort to show yourself equal to the task.
Millie and her chums race and play-fight each other until they are breathless and their legs give under them, only to get up and start the whole procedure again after they’ve got their second breath. Social life on a grand scale! They don’t ask questions about pedigree, education, toilet habits or social standing of their owners. They just get on with it and each takes from each what they have to offer and give back in full measure. Wouldn’t that be great for humans too?