A recent tripto San Francisco reminded me that things are not always what they seem.
Among the things San Francisco is known for is its high rate of dog ownership.
On any city block you are bound to find several dogs happily jaunting behind their owners.
And, unfortunately, among the other things San Francisco is known for is its high rate of homelessness.
Not surprisingly, many of the city's homeless human inhabitants have found companionship with the city's homeless canines.
The instinct many people seem to have is sympathy for the dogs.
But I don't. These are probably the happiest dogs around. Here's why.
These homeless dogs and their humans enjoy the simplest form of a pack mentality. Every day they hunt for food. Every day is survival.
This relationship mimics the earliest form of human relationships with dogs. These early relationships were all about the everyday adventures of hunting for their food and fighting for survival among the unpredictable variables of environment.
A living arrangement that parallels a typical pack is the perfect formula for a happy dog. The comforts of modern homes do provide security, but they also complicate the human-dog relationship.
As dogs were domesticated, they came to rely on the companionship of their humans.
Homeless dogs and their people are together all day every day. I don't know a dog in the world who would not love the constant companionship that homeless people enjoy with their dogs.
In San Francisco I saw many dogs and their homeless human counterparts.
One woman fed her dog a heaping pile of canned dog food and a brand new bottle of water.
Another man had a bowl of kibble beside him, which his dog was aptly ignoring, likely due to a content stomach.
Every homeless dog looked well fed. Every homeless dog ignored the swarms of people and vehicles around him. They focused confidently and calmly on their owner, their leader.
While these dogs don't likely enjoy the comforts of a warm, comfy bed or perhaps a well-balanced nutritious meal, I do not feel sorry for them.
I am glad they — and their owners — have a loyal friend and a trustworthy partner to walk beside them in their unlucky lot in life.