The expression is to let sleeping dogs lie. You may think that these proverbial dogs are sprawled on the ground, but in fact they are telling falsehoods. Homonyms strike again! I’m sure they aren’t lying on purpose, in a plan to stab their best friend in the back and take over the world. There’s no dog espionage going on. But in the end, they deceive us.
And by us I mean you, dog people. Myself, a cat person, live in the truth. The sometimes harsh, lonely truth. As a cat person, you dog people may find my views too biased to warrant further reading. To each their own.
Dogs aren't very good at being ambivalent. They love love love something, or they want it to be dead, mauled and scattered about the yard. This gives dog owners a false sense of security. They have their lovable mutt who adores them for no significant reason. So long as they provide food, and possibly shelter and some modicum of attention, the dog will worship the ground they walk on. Such fierce loyalty is often listed as one of the great attributes of the dog, but it just sets the owner up for disappointment.
There’s a place for unconditional love, and that place isn’t Petsmart. The dog’s unwarranted adoration may lead the owner to believe others, even non-canines such as people, should be so easily ingratiated. They may learn to expect fierce loyalty and undying affection for no discernable reason. And this just doesn’t fly with humans. Unless you’re a celebrity.
To be fair, cats may instill the opposite problem. You can give the world to a cat and have it still remain apathetic. But I think it’s a better message to internalize: that love can’t be bought. It makes the affection so much sweeter when they do deem fit to bestow it upon you. And though to be a truly helpful primer for people the cat’s affection would have to have some consistency, it’s still the better lesson to take home.
So don’t let those dogs lie to you. They’re not showing you how the world works, or how it should work. Relationships shouldn’t be that easy; love shouldn’t be so cheaply bought. Instead learn from the cat. They can be unpredictable and inconsistent, but have their own will, attitude and foibles. And perhaps they only saddle up next to us for our body heat, but it still feels warmer than a dog’s mindless sycophancy.