Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What are the most successful parasites on earth? Dogs

Dogs trade unconditional love for food.

“Calling dogs parasites is fighting words, but what can I say? Dogs have got us exactly where they want us, and we, idiotic grins fixed to our faces, go along with it all....from The Truth About Dogs: An Inquiry Into the Ancestry, Social Conventions, Mental Habits, and Moral Fiber of Canis Familiaris by Stephen Budiansky.

“Dogs are a brilliant evolutionary success almost without parallel in the animal world, and they owe that success to their uncanny ability to worm themselves into our homes, and to our relentlessly anthropomorphic (definition: attribution of uniquely human characteristics to non-human creatures and beings psyches) that let them do it. “

Translation: for some reason us humans want to believe every animal thinks just like us…which explains why my friend’s hermit crab named “Peety” is just shy…not cowardly. (according to my friend…who is just cowardly) People think their dogs are sort of dumb downed four legged humanoids that just need to be talked to in a high squeaky voice so they can understand English. (Visit the Dumb Friends League website)

Further proof of this comes from a different study that show that “Dogs Can 'Catch' Yawns from Humans” and the results suggest domestic dogs have the capacity for a fundamental form of empathy, the researchers say…and empathy is extremely important in showing unconditional love. (You gotta read this article, which also details how the researchers figured this out.)

Budiansky goes on to say that “for all the myths and tales of the dog's service to man, only the smallest fraction of dogs that live off human society today earn their keep. No one has done an actual study of this, but there is reason to be suspicious even of the most common rationalization of dogs' utility to man, as guardians of property or intruder alarms; for every tale of a dog successfully frightening off burglars, there are thousands of dogs who bark incessantly at every friggin’ thing that moves and then sleep blissfully through a crime in progress.”

Perhaps our dog, a large loping bloodhound named Maggie is the exception. She earns her keep (according to my wife) by informing us daily that there are squirrels in the yard, which she does by howling, drooling and sort of crying until we feed her breakfast. Then she sleeps until dinner when she informs us yet again that there are squirrels in the yard. My wife sees great utility in this behavior and feeds the dog gratefully.

Kitty Kinnin tells me that her dogs, which are both Pomeranian/Black Bear mixes, earn their keep as well by converting dog food to wool for black sweaters.

The researcher goes on to say that, “Owners who think their dogs are conscious of their guilt when they poop on the oriental rug, owners who try to reassure and comfort and reason their dogs through their fears, owners who desperately want their dogs to desperately adore them—these are the owners of dogs that more often than not are maladjusted and miserable. (How many wacky people do you know that have equally wacky dogs?)

“Punishing a dog for defecating even seconds after the fact is futile, for dogs do not make such connections over time and space; but dogs will earnestly search for some connection between events in their immediate world and the immediate consequences, and a dog who is punished whenever his owner returns to find poop on the rug will very quickly learn to fear his owner's return, period. (Jeez your dog seems terrified of you…Yeah well it’s because he poops everyday on the rug….Did you every think he might poop everyday on the rug BECAUSE he is terrified of you?)

“A dog that is rewarded with petting and soothing words when he trembles during a thunderstorm will quickly learn to tremble all the more, and on more occasions, in pursuit of such rewards.” (Awe sweetie …don’t tremble…its OK to poop on the rug everyday…I was just kidding when I threatened switch you from organic dog food back to Alpo)

“A dog whose owners want love at all costs quickly learns to be a domineering bully—such is the nature of the wolf-dog social structure. It can be worse: his owners can actually achieve their ambition, and the dog can become neurotically dependent on them and go into hysterics at every parting.” (Neurotic dogs…no way…they chase their tails for very rational reasons) Read Article.

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