A dog’s will to live is its raison d’être. Dogs do not suffer Albert Camus’s “one truly serious philosophical problem” of suicidal ideation. The canine affirmation is automatic and compulsory — a dog will never choose to end his or her life. It simply can’t. Dogs live, and only live.
A dog, by extension, affirms all lives it touches. Life’s entirety, of course, comprises a spectrum of emotions and ricocheting perspectives on reality — from nihilism to optimism, frustration to contentment, abandonment to love. A dog brought home becomes a nexus and repository for all that home’s experiences, memories and outlook.
Projecting a dog’s POV through ours, there’s beauty in their affirming life while (perhaps) never knowing that life is an opt in/out choice. The phrase “dogged determination” is doggone true. We don’t know what a dog knows, but we sense — and communicate through — some kind of mutual sentience. The true paradox of our cross-species communication surfaces as our dogs act with intention: we know they think — but only because we can’t tell what they’re thinking.
(The know-can’t-tell paradox will also be true in determining whether an artificial intelligence achieves true sentience, but this story here’s about organic lifeforms. Ignore the robots around us, for now.)