Explaining Evolution To My Dog

By Ed Tasca


happy-dogEveryone’s dogs are cute or smart or sensitive or loving or psychic, some even seem almost human. Sometimes I feel one or two of these wonders about my dog, S’koocha. She can anthropomorphize like the best of them.

Occasionally though, she can also get uppity and take this anthropomorphizing business beyond cute. For example, when she insists we’re going for a walk, and I have to straighten her out by explaining that she is not my superior. In fact, in most cases, I’m her superior. Well, in some cases.

At any rate, I found myself one day trying to explain to her why she is still on four feet, while I am on two feet in the more superior position of looking down on her. “If you’re on four feet,” I said, “that means you can’t stand up and do evolutionary things like comb your hair or make meatballs.” Regrettably I had to add, “And no, hopping around on your hind legs at “dance for cheese time” isn’t the same thing. “If you could decide “dance for cheese time” on your own and then go and get cheese in the refrigerator and eat it over a plate with possibly some pate, that would make me stop and take notice. However, that’s never going to happen, unless you’re in a Disney movie.”

Of course, she had nothing to say to this, although she did get excited and raise her ears at the sound of the words “cheese time.” But she remained there sitting on the floor staring at me, resembling a man trying to guess my weight.

My next argument was to point out that I don’t have a tail. “See, a few million years ago, we came down from the trees where we swung on tails, and realized we didn’t need tails anymore, so ask yourself the question, “Why the hell do I still have a tail?” “The answer? You didn’t get the message that we mammals were all moving on.”

Her expression seemed to indicate that she was puzzled, because her ears flopped. So I leaped to the next obvious thing: intelligence. “Humans have come a long way since we climbed out of the trees.” I wanted to be fair to the animal I loved so much, so I admitted that we too weren’t very smart a couple hundred thousands years ago when we had the intelligence of a condo board committee. Yet, we began inventing things, like wheels and fire and weapons, and of course, a little later, guitars.

“Okay,” I then added when I still saw no response, “let’s look at it this way: when you want something, look what you have to do. You have to run around, roll on your back, chase your tail, lick my shoe, and stare at something that’s not there. Now, if I want something, all I have to do is say, ‘I want to take a walk.’ And then I take a walk. That’s all there is to it. I don’t need to lick anything or anybody. That’s evolution, get it?” She was an attentive student, but hopelessly into herself. I’d wished that some of this would have taught her things about a more sophisticated lifestyle, over and above dancing for cheese.

There was one final tack. Explaining that the things dogs can do aren’t really evolutionary. “Okay,” I said, “I understand that you can smell something a hundred meters away. But really, who cares? And what value is there in that? Nothing I can think of, unless you’re in the waste management business.”

And yes, generally speaking, you’re gentle, loving creatures, but that’s how you got yourselves domesticated and subservient in the first place. So, there’s little honor in that.” And based on the science of ultrasonics,” I felt obligated to add, “I know that you can hear sounds at very high pitches. But doesn’t that get on your nerves? Don’t get me wrong I’m not trying to discredit this power you have, but you’ve never lived across from an eventos.

“So, do you understand now why you can’t come barging into my den and insisting on going for a walk?” She waggled her tail a few times in response, then went over and tore out the bottom of our screen door.



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