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Little Dog Empathizes

Little Dog: You seem sad.

Me: Yeah, I am. It’s a bummer, you know?

Little Dog: If you say so. I don’t really get sad.

Me: Really?

Little Dog: Not my bag.

Me: Lucky you.

Little Dog: I mean it’s not like I’ve never been sad. That would be weird.

Me: Right.

Little Dog: For example, there was that one time…

Me: Yes?

Little Dog: Nope, it’s gone. It’ll come to me later, when no one’s around.

Me: Yeah, that used to happen to me. Except now I don’t even remember things later.

Little Dog: I’m working on developing some emotional range, though.

Me: That’s a noble pursuit.

Little Dog: I agree. I’m starting with empathy. Can I try it out on you?

Me: Sure.

Little Dog: Give me something to empathize with.

Me: Oh, okay, um, well, I’m sad.

Little Dog: I need more to go on for the empathizing to happen.

Me: Sure. I guess I’m sad the world is cruel, and awful, and full of terrible people.

Little Dog: That’s what you’re sad about?

Me: That’s one of the things I’m sad about, yeah.

Little Dog: That’s stupid.

Me: See, that response feels like a failure to empathize.

Little Dog: The world has always been full of terrible people.

Me: Yeah, but now I know just how terrible they are. They’re literally laying it out there for me on social media.

Little Dog: So really you feel stupid that you never picked up on how terrible they are before now.

Me: I guess.

Little Dog: Or maybe, you always suspected that they were terrible, and you just didn’t want to think about it because you didn’t want to admit that so many people you tolerated were awful, and now that they won’t let you not think about it you feel complicit in their terribleness.

Me: …Maybe.

Little Dog: Which would make you pretty terrible too. Wow, that’s rough. I’m starting to feel bad just thinking about it.

Me: Great.

Little Dog: Look at me! I’m empathizing!

Me: Congratulations.

Little Dog: Go me!

Me: So how does it feel?

Little Dog: How does what feel?

Me: Feeling bad. How does it feel?

Little Dog: I’ve already forgotten.

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