For thousands of years, we have been “making” dogs just as we want them to be, in order to serve us. Whether for hunting, guarding and protecting, retrieving, rescuing, finding bombs, drugs and lost people or even just keeping our laps warm, dogs were initially domesticated – I guess- to serve a purpose.
And they have become so good at what they do, that they are indispensable. So having a dog by your side after the world collapses seems the smart thing to do. He can find food, protect you, keep you warm at night. But dogs have come such a long way in our lives and in our hearts, that any practical purpose they might serve in real life seems secondary. Dogs have become an idea, meaning so much more than “the animal that hunts for us and protects us”, so the most valuable thing a dog can do for you on doomsday is not what you think.
I was watching The Road again the other day – spoiler alert -. In a post apocalyptic world, after a global cataclysm has caused an extinction event, a man and his young son struggle to survive, scavenging for supplies, as they make their way to the north.
“Dogs have become an idea”
They only have each other to rely on, making their way though cannibalistic gangs, being “the good guys” in a world that is slowly dying. No one is to be trusted, and most people that they meet on their way are pure evil. After the father passes away, towards the end of the film, the boy is left all alone, having no one to turn to.
“what can be more of a proof of trust?”
When he is approached by a man in the last scene, he points his gun at him, constantly asking him if he is one of the good guys and if he eats people. And as the boy is trying to figure out whether this stranger is to be trusted or not – leaving us viewers with our hearts in our stomachs, the man introduces the boy to his family.
Trust is building up slowly, as the camera moves from the mother to the two kids, but we are still a bit wary, until the last shot captures a dog next to the kids. That’s when the little boy makes his decision, puts down the gun and realizes that he is with the good guys. The moment when you see the dog, as a viewer you go “phew!”, because what can be more of a proof of trust, than a family with a pet dog in such troubled times?
I don’t think that the writer of the original novel nor the screenwriter and director are such huge god lovers. It’s just that the film is very good, from the beginning all the way to the end, managing to bring out all the right emotions at the right time for the audience, carefully using symbols to tell you what to feel and what to think.
“Because dogs have evolved to mean so much more than what they used to”
And the pet dog in the end symbolizes trust and a feeling of belonging. It gives the viewer a sense of relief. And I mean any viewer, not just me. Because dogs have evolved to mean so much more than what they used to. They symbolize family, and love, and trust and altruism and a feeling of belonging.
So, if the world ends, besides finding food and shelter, the most important thing you need is to hook up with the good guys. And what better proof of someone being a good guy, than having a pet dog?