Since dogs have evolved over thousands of years to live harmoniously with humans, they’ve become the world’s most trustworthy companions. Taking this into consideration, these traits make dogs perfect for displaying themes of loyalty, leadership, and vulnerability. These three examples can all be examined in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, The Grey, and White Dog.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
Happiness is only worth feeling if it’s shared. It doesn’t matter how much time you spend with the people you love, as long as you cherish the time you have with them. Just because there are hateful people in the world, they shouldn’t stop you from being loyal to the people you love.
Iggy is a dog in JoJo’s Bizzare Adventure: Stardust Crusaders. Iggy is introduced at the beginning of the second half of the season and serves as a “support” character for the main cast.
From his first reveal up to his own episode near the end of the season, Iggy is represented as problematic and defensive. For Iggy, living in poverty lead to a personality that learned to see humans as none other than heartless bystanders. However, two of the series’ main characters, Joseph and Avdol, discovered him and prevented his capture from Animal Control. When Iggy was revealed to the rest of the party, everyone knew that they had to give him the best possible life he could have, despite his stubbornness.
Despite their love and support, Iggy showed no signs of reciprocation, as poverty had trained him to see humans as heartless and unforgiving. While living in poverty, Iggy had to spend many days of his life starving, and would frequently have to fend off other hungry dogs. Even though he lived in a big city, no human would ever show him any affection.
Even when the new members of his party needed his help, he refused to participate, as he believed in the survival of the fittest. Iggy refused to believe that humans would ever be capable of kindness, and this belief turned him into the very thing he despised.
Only when he has a near-death experience with the enemy does he realize just how much he’s wanted to feel loved. His fear turned into hatred, and that hatred served as a coping mechanism so he would never have to be afraid of anyone ever again. Once that hatred was cured, the loyalty in his genes would be able to blossom, and he could be the dog he always wanted to be.
Iggy’s Road to Redemption
After Iggy won a grueling battle against a pet hawk named Pet Shop, the fight lead Iggy into a river, where he feared he would die. While he was sinking to the bottom of the river, his deadly situation gave him the chance to own up to his selfish lifestyle. Despite this sad twist of fate, the river, much like a mother’s womb, would give him a chance for rebirth. A young boy was a bystander to this event and rescued him from a watery grave.
After the river gave Iggy a chance for redemption, he returned to his friends to help them accomplish their mission of defeating DIO (the series’ main antagonist) and vowed to live the rest of his life with a new purpose.
Iggy was a stray before he met the Stardust Crusaders, so he was used to relying on himself. It was only until after he made these new friends when he realized how much he just wanted to love someone, and knew, despite his situation, it wasn’t too late to give them the support they needed.
After Iggy’s rebirth, he spends only a few hours in enlightenment before he is killed by one of DIO’s henchmen, Vanilla Ice. In the end, it was that same stubbornness that leads Iggy to sacrifice himself so Polnareff, his best friend, could live another day. When Polnareff sees the life drip away from Iggy’s body, he says this:
I just realized how much I liked him. It always happens this way, I only understand after they’re gone…But I loved how you acted so stubborn…I realize now that your refusal to show affection for anyone proved just how proud you really were.Fuminori Komatsu as Jean-Pierre Polnareff – JoJo’s Bizzare Adventure: Stardust Crusaders (2015)
In the end, Iggy’s experience proves that there will always be people who want to love you. Even in more pessimistic films like The Shallows, once Nancy came to her senses her family welcomed her with open arms. Once you put your fears aside and let the voice of love take you higher, your loyalty will allow your relationships to blossom.
God will never spoon-feed your success. Death doesn’t care about how many mistakes you’ve made. Since God gave us free will, it is your responsibility to act on your opportunities so you can live the life you want. If the lack of initiative leads to the continuation of your suffering, nobody can be held responsible but yourself.
The Art of Decisiveness
After surviving a plane crash, John Ottway and his coworkers are tasked with surviving in the brutal winter of the Alaskan wilderness. Although John is still grieving from the loss of his deceased wife, the plane crash exposed him to a horrible situation where he was forced to make a decision
Her absence brought to him so much sadness that it ripped him of his motivation and individuality. This lifestyle guided him to his new job at an oil mill hunting rogue wolves who threatened the lives of his coworkers.
However, once he became victim to a plane crash, he jumped into action because, now, for the first time since his wife’s death, there’s other people’s lives to consider. From this point on in the film, John makes one decision after another to make sure he and everyone else makes it out alive. This behavior is derived from a poem his father wrote when he was young:
Once more into the fray, Into the last good fight I’ll ever know, live and die on this day, live and die on this day.Liam Neeson as John Ottway – The Grey (2011)
This quote implies that no matter what, you make sure that every decision you make is counted. As in, the only person responsible for your happiness is yourself. This means that you’ll have to optimize every opportunity you find to create your own story. God isn’t going to gift you a fulfilling life. If you want something to be proud of, you have to do it yourself.
It doesn’t matter what John will return to when he finds civilization. After all, despite the horrible conditions of his job, he’ll never be able to start living his old life again if he doesn’t make it out alive. Although he misses his wife, he’ll never be able to be happy again if he doesn’t take responsibility for his actions. It’s okay to be sad over the death of a loved one, but that person wouldn’t want you to let their death stop you from being happy.
Once John was released from his state of shock after the crash, he realized in a split second that he needed to jump into action or else everything his father taught him would be for nothing.
Soon after their plane had crashed, John made a startling discovery. Their plane had crashed into wolf territory. After Hernandez became the first victim to the wolves’ slaughter, they knew that this was not going to stop.
John elaborated that sometimes wolves will hunt other predators who invade their territory to eliminate competition, which means that they’ll have to keep moving and hope that they’ll find civilization before they’re all killed by wolves.
The beauty of this is that there is no antagonist in this film. At least not in the traditional sense. Neither John nor the Alpha wolf is in the wrong. Both parties are optimizing their opportunities to ensure their survival. John wants to keep his team alive so that he may one day see civilization again and live a normal life, and the Alpha wants to eliminate his competition so the resources in his territory are preserved.
Both the Alpha and John are phenomenal role models for aspiring leaders. A leader isn’t necessarily someone who “leads”. A leader will take advantage of every opportunity they have so that their life can be as fulfilling and enjoyable as possible. No matter what, you should always be making decisions to aim at success, even when the odds are against you.
At the end of the film, all but John had been killed by wolves. John made a cry to God to have the closure that He really existed. After a few moments of madness, John came to his senses and said to himself: “Fuck it, I’ll do it myself”. God gave us free will so that we can forge our destinies with our own hands. If we want a fulfilling life, we’ll have to find out how to get there on our own.
After he made this revelation, out of all places he could have stumbled into, he found his way into the wolves’ den. Surrounded by wolves and face-to-face with the Alpha, John pulled out his pocket knife and prepared to fight. Despite the odds against him, there was still a small chance that he could survive, so there was no way in Hell he was going to give up.
No matter what happens to you, you should always be making decisions that lead to success. Creating your failures and complaining that the world is against you is easy. Picking yourself up and forging your future when the odds are against you is what makes you a leader.
Although some people may say that dogs are vulnerable animals due to their forgiving and loyal nature, the same sentiment could be said about humans. Anybody, anywhere, can raise a child to be any type of person they want because of how impressionable we are. It’s this fact that keeps us from even considering that we will ever live inside a world without hate. The only way to cure hateful behavior is through kindness.
In the film, Dolly, the film’s main character finds a stray dog and takes him into her house until his owner shows up to claim him. Unfortunately, Dolly soon finds out that this dog has been trained by a white racist to be a “White Dog”, as in, conditioned to be attack black people on sight. Keys, a canine behavioral specialist, explained to her that the dog’s owner likely accomplished this by paying black junkies to beat the dog senseless. Over time, the dog learned to fear the color black, and that fear lead to hatred, which conditioned the dog to attack any black person he sees before they can hurt him.
Much like Iggy, who learned to see humans as heartless bystanders, this dog learned to see black people as threats to his safety. Although Iggy was conditioned as a result of a lack of heart in the world, this dog was conditioned by hatred. Anyone, anywhere, can be conditioned to be a horrible person if they grow up in evil hands.
If Adolf Hitler had a child that survived, he would not be destined to follow in his father’s footsteps. Although genetics does play a role in the behavior of an individual, it does not guarantee a hateful personality.
When we’re young, we don’t have the experience or the mental fortitude to forge our destiny. We rely on our parents to take care of us and provide us with the wisdom we need to become independent in adulthood. Since we see adults as authority figures, we can be easily manipulated because we rely on them to teach us and take care of us. If someone is taught that black people are dangerous from a young age, that mindset will carry on with them to adulthood because the lessons we learn from our childhood become our values as adults.
This means that racism, or any other type of hatred, will likely never be fully cured from society because of how easy it is to manipulate someone as a child. An adult might have the common sense to see how racism is illogical and hateful, but a child expects their parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, and teachers to provide them with meaningful lessons and will take that information to heart because children look up to adults for guidance.
Anyone, anywhere, can train a dog to be a ruthless killing machine. Since they look up to us, they don’t know any better when they are trained to do horrible things.
While this dog is under the guidance of Keys, there’s the looming threat that if a lawman finds this dog and finds out what he’s been trained to do, he could be euthanized for the damage he’s done to society.
The reason why it’s so hard to change the mind of a racist is that you’re asking them to be vulnerable and change everything they’ve ever known about life.
Iggy was so scared to be vulnerable and question his lifestyle because his experiences in his childhood taught him that humans aren’t capable of loving anyone. When someone finally did show him kindness, he had to change his entire world view and be vulnerable in front of the very thing he feared. Since he was trained to fear humans, his brain learned to hate as a coping mechanism so he would never have to fear anyone again.
However, in both White Dog and JoJo’s Bizzare Adventure, both characters turned over a new leaf once they realized that despite what they were taught, these people were not going to hurt them.
In White Dog, Keys was able to change the dog’s racist behavior because he returned that behavior with kindness, reminding him that there’s nothing to be afraid of. If we’re kind to the people around us, we can help them realize that vulnerability is nothing to be afraid of, as it’s something that only gives us opportunities to move past our shortcomings and become stronger.
Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering.Frank Oz as Yoda – Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999)
Dogs are wonderful animals who might be more similar to us than any primate will ever be. Although dogs might be even more vulnerable than us, they still love us even after we hurt them. Some people might think that’s their own fault, but, it’s that same stubbornness that allows them to be proud and fierce animals. You might be able to train a dog to be a ruthless killer, but you can also train the same dog to be a support animal for a veteran. If you enjoyed this content, consider subscribing so you’ll be notified when I make future content just like this.