We have seen that Deleuze does not enunciate judgements, he does not « judge » schizos, he evaluates assemblages. The same philospohical ethic is present in his attitude towards dogs. James Hillman remarks « There are no wrong or negative animals, in dreams or otherwise », and Deleuze would agree. However, Deleuze would hasten to add that there are no intrinsically « right » animals either. It is not a question of right or wrong, but of what is good for your individuation or not, of what you can « stand » in the way of alterity, of what type and in what proportions, to compose your process of individuation rather than having it de-composed.
Deleuze « says he can better stand (although not for too long) the wolf howling at the moon than barking » (ABC Primer, A as in Animal). Wecan imagine him asking a dog-lover « How can you stand that barking? », and it could be a genuine question or a rhetorical question to awaken the dog-lover to an awareness of their insensitivity (coldness) or sentimentality (identification). It could also be a demand for a pragmatic account of the conditions under which one can stand a dog and its behaviour, including barking.
James Hillman provides such a philosophical protocol for standing dogs, in the form of 5 « messages » conveyed by the presence of dogs. These messages correspond to what we have seen to be the components of Deleuze’s own attitude to dogs, so it will be useful to list them as a synthesis of what has been said in the previous posts. I am taking these « messages » of the dog from the book ANIMAL PRESENCES, Chapter 9 « You dirty dog! »
1) Dogs are emblems of sadness, suffering, and depression and thus of mute nature: « Depression restores us to the dumb animal, the futility of explanation, of language itself ». Depression here is viewed as the deepening out of ego, as a process of exploration of intensities outside the norm of mediocre enjoyment. The dog takes out of the injunction to enjoy and into the elaboration of our own nature: « We find nature in our mutual wordless relation with the dog ».
2) Dog is a wild multitude rather than a domestic identity, it englobes a multiplicity of intensive staes: « Dog carries its ancestors: that is a second message. Wolves, dingoes, jackals; the snarling, howling mad dogs of war and mad dogs of the noonday sun ».
3) The dog, like the Cynic who has decided to follow nature, is a watchdog « barking at illusion », ie detecting the forces of stupidity and crying out at them.The dog is a meat-spirit, outside the clichés of the beautiful soul: « Keep a cynical eye toward idealizations and ideologies, wide-eyed wisdoms, grand illusions and delusions of grandeur, love of romance and romantic love ».
4) Dogs are emblems of decay and decomposition, having no care for the distinction between pure and impure, clean and unclean. The dog goes for the bone, destroying the corpse for its bony residue and essence. Along with the dilatation of the meat there is the contraction to the bone: « Go toward the marrow, that inmost character as presented in a well-composed obituary, a Haiku, a portrait of an old face, a wintry tree, or a clearly dissected analysis such as done by a forensic pathologist. This, too, is following nature ».
5) Dogs have a special relation to death, the dog barks at death, warning and protecting us, yet also bringing us into its proximity, in the neighborhood of death and decay.Deleuze argues that it’s not men, but animals, who know how to die, and he returns to cats [but the same is true for dogs], how a cat [or a dog] seeks a corner to die in, a territory for death. » (ABC Primer, A as in Animal). The dog is a « death demon » and the oedipal relation to the dog is a defence against the awareness of death, a denial of the entropy of the meat, a denial of death: « when we walk our dog for our health or for its, when we make sure it gets its shots on schedule, wears its flea collar, when we groom it for “best in show,” when it travels with us on family outings, or rides mascot in the pickup, we are engaged in apotropaic defenses against the death demon ».