[Originally published July 23, 2013.]

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WHAT IS FATALISM?

A philosophical belief that holds we are powerless in the face of a predetermined future. Holding such a doctrine results in resignation rather than the desire to wrestle with the unfolding of events. In more technical circles, it is the knowledge that we cannot do other than what we choose to do. Commonly, it is also used to characterize those who have the glum outlook that it will all turn out for the worse, your Debbie & Don Downers.

WHAT IS A DOG?

Dogs, Canis lupus familiaris, are comfort creatures covered in fur. They make everything better. Yes they do, yes, yes they do! These quadrupeds were possibly the first domesticated animals—took in from the prehistoric dark to keep us company in the firelight. They are loyal and eager and enthusiastic and joyful and brave and cuddly as all hell. Look at you! Look at you! I could punch you in the face, I love you so much!

WHAT IS A FATALISTIC DOG?

A dog who has adopted fatalism as a worldview.

  • Does your dog not hopefully check his food bowl between meals?
  • Does your dog no longer beg for table scraps?
  • Does your dog mope on the floor, couch, or bed?
  • Does your dog quietly accept a whisker pulling by small children?
  • Does your dog fail to chase its own tail, as if assuming it will only get away in the end anyway?

Your dog is a fatalist. Or may be experimenting with fatalistic tendencies. Fatalism is a terrible philosophy for a dog. Not anything like much more canine appropriate philosophies such as stoicism or Epicureanism or even anarchism. No, a fatalist dog is hardly a dog at all.

CAUSES

Though the causes of fatalism in dogs is not fully understood, several environmental factors may be to blame, such as kill shelters, cats and trees, erratic feeding schedules, etc. But perhaps the biggest risk factor is associating with vocally down-in-the-mouth dogs. Bad dog, bad, bad dog! These infectious canines can communicate dangerous fatalistic ideas, like the idle dog argument.

The Idle Dog Argument:

1. If it is fated for you to go for a walk, then you will walk whether you nose your master or not.

2. Likewise, if you are fated not to go for a walk, you will not walk whether you nose your master or not.

3. But either it is fated that you will go for a walk or it is fated that you will not go for a walk.

4. Ergo, it is futile to nose your master.

And then your constant companion who should be your nonjudgmental moral support is instead the useless lumpy living embodiment of your hopes and dreams that have crashed into the limitations of life.

OTHER SYMPTOMS OF
CANINE FATALISTIC SYNDROME

Red-rocket dysfunction.
Dry nose.
Suicidal ideation.
Loose stool.
Resigned-to-what-may-come sniffing.

WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT

Hold your dog’s head in the palms of your hands and look deep into those soul-defeated eyes and repeat, “You are an agent in your own destiny. Yes you are! Yes you are!”

A NOTE ON CATS

Dogs are not cats. They are far superior to cats. That’s right, stupid ole cats! We hate them don’t we! Stupid cats! Cats are terrible. However, they do have one advantage stemming from their hyper-elevated opinions of themselves and exaggerated sense of autonomous self-determinism in terms of their ability to change the outcome of their fate. Cats rarely ever suffer from fatalism.