I’ve known a man who hated all living things that bore a human imprint — from cultivated landscapes to house plants and pets. An unlivable state of mind, of course, and probably not quite sincere. But understandable: the craving for the wilderness, the feeling that being human is a curse.
We can’t escape from our humanity, and can’t escape from our own imprint upon nature, which in the grand perspective belongs to natural history too. Parks and pastures, cows and horses, cats and dogs can be beautiful, moving or charming, within bounds (excluding lap dogs, daffodils and feral pigeons). Despite the fact that their likableness is largely the product of our own making them to our liking.
Why do we (or most of us) like dogs? — Because they have been bred to live with us and milk our sentiments. It’s not their fault if large-eyed and furry they may look like a Disneyfied version of themselves. We should, I suppose, admire nature’s adaptability to us and try to improve our own adaptability to nature.
Stories about smart dogs following hikers are common enough. I’ll add my own to the lot, for sentimental reasons.
The Col de Furfande is a well-known mountain pass on the GR58 hiking trail, which circles the Queyras valley in the French Hautes Alpes. Expecting to find, at its 2500 meters, relief from steel and gas, the hiker will be disappointed. The site has been turned into a chaotic parking lot, with excess vehicles spilling into the grasslands below.
The area is “one of the jewels of the Parc régional du Queyras”, we are told by the website of the refuge de Furfande, but this seems to imply little in terms of protection. The shelter is situated just below the col, on the unspoiled south side. On the north side, a dirt road cuts a broad scar through the mountainside and ends right on the pass. It seems to serve no other purpose than that of bringing lazy-legged guests to the refuge, which has been rebuilt in 2013 in a luxury fashion (“with generous government support”, according to a Dutch website).
A more orderly parking lot (empty when I passed it) has been created some 400 m lower and a 90 minutes walk away. The marking “Parking randonneurs” must be a joke. Its tiny size shows that the roadbuilders guessed right: whoever takes his wheels thus far aims for the top.