"Fields to bartender: Was I in here last night and did I spend a $20 bill?
Fields: Oh, thank goodness. I thought I'd lost it.”
I enjoyed him immensely, but he dropped down a notch or two when he said: ”Anyone that that hates dogs and small children can’t be all bad.”
As an avowed lover of dogs and small children, that ruffled me just a bit. (It’s been said he was very affectionate to his daughter, so it could be Fields just said it for shock value or comic effect.)
Something that has always puzzled me is the rush of affection I feel for babies and small children as well as dogs. They just make me feel warm and evoke an immediate smile.
I’m not alone, I’ll bet the rest of you feel the same way. The question is why? Why do humans have this response? In the animal kingdom, most mothers are hard-wired to protect and nurture their offspring immediately after birth. In a few cases, the father of the little creatures share in the upbringing. But, even though the rest of us—sometimes complete strangers—feel this affection, there appears to be nothing like a mother’s love.
I remember my own dear mother crying when I left he nest for the last time at the age of twenty. She said tearfully, “No one will ever love you like your mother does” . . . and she was right.
But, back to the reason we love small children and dogs. I’ve suspected it’s because we actually feel the projection of their mysterious, unrestrained and unconditional love.
Now the psychologists, sociologists, and other assorted scientific types can give us all a lot of various reason why we love babies, and why they love us, with all manner of gobbledygook that makes your head swim.
They talk about “medial orbitofrontal cortex”, “salient reward-related stimuli”, or a “neuroimaging method called magnetoencephalography (MEG)”.
With dogs, there’s no ‘easy’ answer. True, all dogs are opportunists. They’ll hang around the table waiting for a goody to drop. Of course, there are some people—even though I love dogs, I’m not one of them—who will sneak a tidbit to them. As a result, they’re always on the lookout for falling or offered morsels.
But then again, a dog will be affectionate even if he’s not going to get food or get petted. Sometimes he just wants to be there and let you know he likes to be near you. We’re all familiar with stories where a loyal dog will not leave his master’s gravesite. It’s a mystery even the scientists can’t figure out.
No, I have to disagree completely with W. C. Fields. He had it backwards. Anyone that loves dogs and small children can’t be all bad.