Owning Pets

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by (Q), Dec 12, 2009.

  1. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    You kingdomist!
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  3. Orleander OH JOY!!!! Valued Senior Member

    oh no you didnt. I can't believe you went there!

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  5. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member

    That's true, but if you are eating lunch when the phone rings and you leave your cheeseburger in easy reach, 19 out of 20 roommates will leave it alone. Only 1 dog in 100 will not eat your cheeseburger. Worse, they eat the burger, then tear the wrapper into minute particles and scatter them all over the carpet. Only 1 in a million roommates do that to a wrapper.
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  7. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    hmmm. i've never come across this one, i must investigate.

    i've always been fascinated by foundlings--being autistic is kinda the same thing (sort of)--and kaspar hauser is my role-model. but genie is the one who breaks my heart. there's an incredible nova documentary about her.

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    anyways, back to the dogs...
  8. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    i don't know that this is necessarily true--and it's not just wishful thinking on my part. there are plenty of cases of dogs biting (and rarely maiming or killing), but a dog is far more inclined to be protective--and to their own, respectful.

    but, as i've said before--again and again--in a thread which shall not be named: there simply are no reliable statistics on these matters.
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Huh? They're connected, or at least they were before the Suez Canal was built. In an ice age when more water is trapped in glaciers and sea levels are low that land bridge is rather wide.

    Perhaps you meant to ask how someone could walk from Africa to Australia, which is more responsive to the topic I raised. That migration occurred around 60KYA during a severe ice age, when rainfall was low and there was a famine in Africa. Sea level was much lower (something like 200ft), making the Asian and Australian land masses and all the islands between them wider, so there wasn't as much water to cross as there is today. The boating technology of the era was adequate for the journey. Due to the vagaries of weather patterns Australia had plenty of rainfall and food so they settled there and throve, even without dogs to help. There are still faint DNA markers in some of the people who live along the south Asian coast, relating them to the Native Australians.
    Hmm, then perhaps you really are talking about Asia. The second wave of migration occurred around 50KYA, and those people were the ancestors of all non-Africans except the Native Australians. IIRC it took about ten thousand years for them to colonize Southeast Asia and Siberia, and another twenty thousand before Homo sapiens reached Europe and displaced the Neanderthals. They got to the New World sometime between 20 and 10KYA. Hawaii was the last major land mass to be populated, less than a thousand years ago.

    Both of these groups of migrants were members of the same African tribe, the San or "Bushmen," which still exists today although they now live much farther south and nowhere near Suez. (When the Sahara dried up everyone had to move south, and the people who live there now are descendants of recolonizers from Asia.)

    As for the unique features of the non-African peoples, fifty thousand years of random mutations can cause quite a few changes in the genes of a mammalian species. It only took a hundred thousand years for the polar bear to spin off as a completely distinct species from the grizzly. For example, the epicanthic eye fold that for us Westerners is the primary identifier of "Oriental" people only developed about ten thousand years ago; note that their cousins the Native Americans, who came here around 15KYA, do not have it.

    Physical appearance is rather ephemeral, since it is primarily a matter of soft tissue and pigments, so it doesn't take a shift in very many genes to change the way we look. Skin tone, for example, can change completely from very dark to very light in a couple of thousand years of exposure to more sunlight (which requires more skin-darkening melanin to prevent sunburn and melanoma) or less sunlight (which requires less melanin to increase vitamin D synthesis). The very dark Bengalis and the very light Latvians are close cousins separated by only 3,000 years of migration in opposite directions.
    Since they were all members of one tribe it's safe to assume that there wasn't a lot of variance in their appearance.

    It's also reasonable to assume that others must have tried walking across Suez so we have to wonder why none of them established successful colonies. The only technology I know of that was fairly new in 60,000BCE is clothing. (Body lice speciated from hair lice around 70KYA.) Perhaps wearing clothes made it easier to survive in Asia--some questions will never be answered.
    You have to be a behaviorist when analyzing non-human psychology because even though it's pretty easy to get a dog to lie on a couch you can't get him to answer your questions about how he feels.

    When I talk about primitive humans and other pack-social mammals I talk about "trusting" and "caring." Pack-mates trust each other and care for each other because the welfare of the pack depends on that trust and care, and because the pack-social instinct makes each individual believe that his welfare is tied to the welfare of the pack. After a couple of ungainly paragraphs I often shorten "trust and care for" to "love." We're still Mesolithic cavemen who automatically love the people we've known since birth, even though the complexity of civilization and the huge number of not-quite-pack-mates we come to trust and care for through reasoning and learning sometimes allows us to stop loving them.

    As for "love" between mates, humans are (not completely) unique on that score. The need for two parents to raise their young through many years of immaturity correlates with our ability to develop love for a mate who wasn't originally a member of our pack. There are other species including bald eagles and several psittacines who also mate for life, but many pack-social species including dogs/wolves do not.

    So when we talk about our dog loving us, it is the same kind of love we feel for him. The same kind of love we feel for our dearest friends, perhaps for our siblings' spouses. It stems from the ability to accept new members into the pack, which is of course a survival trait because it mitigates inbreeding.

    And it isn't just because we feed them. If you run out of food your dog will go out and kill a pigeon, and probably offer to share it with you. Your dog trusts you and cares for you, as a reciprocation your your trust and care. Whether you want to call that "love" is just semantics.
    All any human expects in return for his love is love. This is why dogs can be such a cornerstone of stability in our lives, when the median duration of U.S. marriages is fifteen years, about the life expectancy of a small dog of one of the healthier breeds. You absolutely know that only death can stop your dog from loving you, and sad as that is going to be it's a whole lot easier to forgive than any reason a spouse can offer.

    Of course we also expect honesty, respect, charity and sheer attention and interest from our spouses, but we also expect those from our friends. In my philosophy (and vocabulary) that qualifies our friends as "loved ones" and we don't really need friends or spouses to give us flowers if we actually get all of those things from them. Maybe I'm just an old California hippie, but I'm happy to say that I love my friends and I'm not bashful about saying that to their faces once in a while. They're all quite pleased to think that I put them in the same category as my dogs--and they all realize it's a challenge for a human to love and earn it in return, the way a dog does without even trying.
    Jung defines an archetype as a motif that occurs in nearly all cultures in nearly all eras. It's instinctive, and its presence in the DNA map of our synapses survives as the result either of inspiring a behavior that proved to be a survival trait (such as fearing a large animal with both eyes in front of its face) or of passing through a genetic bottleneck so we're all stuck with it (such as belief in the supernatural). The various legends of humans being raised by wolves arose independently because the archetype that they are manifestations of is inside us, part of who we are. Dogs are really special to us!
    The fact that the legend does not distinguish between Canis lupus lupus and Canis lupus familiaris implies that the archetype is older than the self-domestication of dogs. This makes sense: The last genetic bottleneck in our species--the last person who is the ancestor of every one of us--was Y-chromosome Adam about 70KYA. After our species achieved its phenomenal success and migrated to Asia (much less every other land mass of any appreciable size), it has become impossible for a genetic bottleneck to occur that would affect the entire population of humans. That would require a catastrophe, a complete-but-one die-off (at least of the males) and repopulation.
    That's only in the media reports, because since frightened people buy more news the primary goal of the media is to scare us. Dogs save people every day, whether by the prosaic feat of telling blind people when it's safe to cross the street or by pulling skiers out of Alpine avalanches and offering them brandy.

    There is an entire population of dogs who dedicate themselves to rescuing people after a disaster. When the Swiss bring their dogs over to search the ruins after an earthquake in Mexico or Turkey, the handlers always book them for just a one-week stay. After a week the only people they're finding are dead. Considering that their job is to save people, an endless series of such failures sends them into a deep depression. They have to take them back to Switzerland for rehabilitation, and send out another crew who don't take it quite so personally.
    We've already established that dogs have no sense of ownership. And we are so familiar with their mode of eating that we have coined the verb "to wolf." A dog never walks away from his food until it's all gone or he's not hungry any more, which takes about three minutes if he's not tearing apart a dead okapi. If a dog walks away from a cheeseburger it's an invitation for a hungry pack-mate to finish it. It's pretty difficult to teach a dog that we eat more slowly and sometimes walk away in the middle of a meal--but it can be done if you really want to bother with it!
    Remember the part about having a million times more olfactory receptors than we do and couple that with our success at changing them from hunters to scavengers specifically to clean up the garbage in our camps. Then it becomes obvious that they will enthusiastically chew up the paper to suck off every last molecule of catsup and leave you with a nice clean house that won't attract vermin. It's their bloody job!
  10. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member

    My dogs will gleefully tear apart perfectly clean paper towels as well, messing up the "camp" that is my living room without obtaining even a molecule of ketchup in exchange. I think they associate the tearing of paper towels with the tearing open of stuffed animals, another favorite hobby of theirs.
  11. (Q) Encephaloid Martini Valued Senior Member

    It is an excellent question, one that would probably demand eons of debate from the very best intellectual minds, far greater in their capacity to understand the human condition than you or I.

    But, the question is better poised at your dog because you seem to believe it can reason such concepts.

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    Yes, well that could probably be answered best with Territorial Behavior than it can by the logic of reasoning concepts like love and respect.

    I'm far more curious to hear what your dog has to say about it.

    Of coure not silly, you didn't buy your girlfriend from a pet store... or did you?

    The SPCA does not account for it, why should I?
  12. Orleander OH JOY!!!! Valued Senior Member

    They do that because they are trained and told to do it, not because they are noble creatures caring for man.
  13. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

    Oh, no, Orleander! Didn't you read Fraggle's post? I quote Mr. Fraggle: "There is an entire population of dogs who dedicate themselves to rescuing people after a disaster."

    See? Those dogs "...dedicate themselves..." to serving man. I'm guessing that they take oaths of sevice or something lke that ...and they do it voluntarily and willingly.

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    Baron Max
  14. (Q) Encephaloid Martini Valued Senior Member

    Yeah, I know it's a ludicrous position to take, but it certainly has been interesting to hear what people think about the subject. I've witnessed some here who would hold a similar position in opposition simply because they are pet owners themselves. Very interesting, indeed.

    There are a great many things our various cultures throughout the ages have taken for granted as the norm in which we eventually changed due to one reason or another, as I'm sure you'll agree. And most certainly, pet ownership in one form or another has been around as long as prostitution and is a cultural norm as can be demonstrated by the multi-billion dollar pet industry that drives it. And if those pet food tv commercials of cute playful puppies and kittens don't make you dash to the local pet store, I don't know what would. It's taken on quite the commercial life of its own, somewhat having changed from the original ideals of breeding dogs from wolves.

    That said, I would like to thank all the participants for bringing their opinions on this. Very good stuff all around.

    Of course, I'm as guilty as everyone else here. I too went to the local shelter and brought home a german sheppard pup, trained it as best I could and after 4 years of ownership, I had to go overseas for a couple of years so I gave it to a neighbor who had a ranch. The dog lived out it's life wandering around the spread chasing rabbits.

    What it did was make me realize just how much responsibility, time and effort is involved in owning a pet and just how many people who own pets never out in that responsibility, time and effort.

    I've read some good posts from people here who have done honorable deeds in saving those animals that were either discarded or lost by others. Kudos to them.

    I just hope this thread has stop to cause some to think about the subject and perhaps help to drive those who will consider pet ownership to be responsible and understant what it takes to own pets.
  15. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    is it necessary to fathom the concept itself in order to entertain or employ? i think not, for am i fairly certain that you are incapable of fathoming such concepts as "metaphor," yet you employ metaphors everyday! so there really is nothing to question--or do you only believe that "love" and "respect" "occur" when the names are so invoked?

    ahh yes, i forgot that your religion posits the existence of some disembodied ontologically distinctive faculty, reason--and in your religion, only humans are endowed with this special "facult," correct? and we humans never operate at an instinctual level, in spite of the claims of many scientists that we approximately 95 percent (a conservative estimate) of our "activity" is unconscious and instinctual--but nevermind that!, correct? everything thing we think, say, and act upon is consciously and carefully considered and reasoned, correct?

    what a curious "world" which you inhabit. i've always wondered what it would be like to be an extreme literalist, and to be completely oblivious to the reality.

    neither have i gotten any of my dogs from a "pet store."

    correct, your religion encourages you, ironically, not to consider matters--especially those for which semantic issues become hairy and entangled. you'll have none of that nonsense!

    i'm sorry (Q), and this is nothing personal, but while i have no difficulties communicating with atheists, agnostics, theists, whatever, per se; i have tremendous difficulty communicating with those who are so ... fundamentalist in their "reasoning," and so i shall henceforth put you on "ignore."
  16. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    Dogs are also capable of running,without ever having fully grasped the Cross-Bridge Cycle. (I think this might be an analogy more accessible to the workings of the physicalist brain.) I also doubt Michael Jorden can work out calculus problems on paper....but on the court, another story.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2009
  17. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    let's pursue this one a littler further: are you suggesting that we--as in we social pack animals, commonly designated by that amusingly ironic category, homo sapiens--never exhibit such instinctive behaviors, and that we always and only act upon reasoned, and logically informed, consideration?

    for the moment, we shall ignore what ordinary folk (well, the smart ones) have always known, but what science has only fairly recently acknowledged for us--that plenty of animals employ reason, use tools, are capable of learning (subverting the instinctive), are self-aware, can think abstractly and "categorize," and even show linguistic capabilities--and simply consider the human employment of reason, etc. when did we "discover" (and name) this particular faculty? and whenabouts did darwin, and the theory of evolution, emerge upon the scene? well, i think all this nonsense about "reason" and whatnots --

    [and on a side note: you are correct, in a sense, to refer to my ramblings as nonsense, as are your own, and everyone else's for that matter: the notion that "truth" somehow lies in this relationship between our "words" and any sort of metaphysical or ontological "reality" is a myth; moreover, any such notions of fixed attributes, qualities, or "essences" is nonsense. our use of language really says nothing of reality, so why not simply acknowledge that any sort of "meaning" simply lies in our use. ]

    -- came about lloonngg before the theory of evolution--well, i don't just think it, i know it. moreover, they emerged from the metaphysical traditions of both philosophy and religion. BUT, have we got any sort of empirical confirmation on any of this?

    are we right to suppose that we employ some sort of transcendent reason in fashioning our concepts? and that this "faculty" somehow operates independently of our bodies, of our phenomenal experience, our actions and what acts upon us? i'm fairly certain that we haven't got any real evidence, or empirical confirmation for any of this; moreover, contemporary cognitive sciences and such suggest that this "reason" is entirely dependent upon, and emergent from, our brains, our bodies, our relations to and our experience of the world--in that "ideal" sense, there is no such thing as a person who can be truly rational. we can try, but our emotions, instincts, physiology, experiences, etc. inevitably influence (produce)--or "contaminate"--our efforts. to be clear, this "faculty" is entirely contingent upon, and produced by, our animality. this seems only natural, as plenty of animals can do very much the same, albeit to differing degrees and of different natures.

    i'm unclear as to whether or not you acknowledge that you are a metaphysician (i suspect not), but what of it? we are all metaphysicians really. but i am curious about your willingness to go to such extremes, with respect to the transcendent and such--given the absence of evidence.
  18. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    This paragraph is it. It sums up the core message of so many of my posts. If this was all acknowledged there would be almost no point in posting here.
    Everyone is a metaphysician.
    The modern, rational, scientific mind is as in love with transcendence as the most devout monotheist theologian.

    Many points for going to the heart of the debates.
  19. (Q) Encephaloid Martini Valued Senior Member

    Seems it's what you believe to be occuring, can your dog talk and understand metaphors, too? hehe

    I would tend to mind, citation please?

    Just ask your dog, I'm sure he'll tell you. He seems to be better educated than you.

    Whew! That's a relief, I'd hate to see what your kids would look like if you did get your girlfriend from a pet store.

    I doubt your sorry and doubt if it's not personal.

    Tired of getting your ass kicked all the time. I don't blame you for putting me on ignore, but for some reason I saw yet another post in which you responded.

    How can I respond to it if I'm on ignore? :shrug:

    For that matter, you won't even see this response. Or, will you?

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  20. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    WOW! i was just being an ass, but you really don't know what a metaphor is, do you?

    for some, i'd give a proper citation, for you just check any of these: lazy google search

    why would it be personal? do i know you? do you know me? we're just words on a screen. and i'm sorry because you seemed to be having fun, and i wouldn't wish to take that away from you.

    by whom?

    frankly, you're just too damn entertaining to ignore.
  21. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    oh, and yes, there was indeed another response following the previous one to which you responded. why don't you respond to that one? this ought to be fun.
  22. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    alright, i'm going to go off on a little tangent here--you don't mind, do you, (Q)? after all, it is your thread (as in: you are the author of the OP) and you've got every right, i suppose, to be one of those sticklers who insist that people remain on topic. anyhows, there's a couple of stodgy sort of reviewers out there who have "accused" me of "affecting" idiocy or naivete--methinks the basis for this accusation is in their actually having read my liner notes (i hate those buggers who do not), or their knowing me from other contexts, i.e. other bands)--but is this supposed to be an insult, or a back-handed compliment? i mean, no one really wants to be an idiot, do they? on the other hand, no one really wants to be a charlatan, i.e. disingenuous (seems to be everyone's favorite word), right?

    where am i going with this? well, that is for you to decide. for now, i have a fairly straightforward (but not terribly relevant) question, for which i would like a careful and considered response--here it is:

    is the sky blue?

    this is not a "game" (well, it is, but not that sort), i want a serious answer.


    now for some relevancy:

    as to the original questions, i've already made clear that i do not really recognize this notion of "ownership" of animals, in the legal sense, and frankly it disgusts. likewise, as James R noted, no one is really going to argue with you that cruelty and neglect of animals isn't bad--and i tend to agree with you that most people with animals really shouldn't have them, because they're irresponsible dumbshits; moreover, given that, i think "breeding" ought to be more restricted and there should be fewer dogs, cats, etc.

    but as to the notion that there is something "unnatural" or "wrong" about having animals: it is generally conceded that dogs domesticated themselves 10 to 15 thousand years ago, but there is some evidence (V. Morell, "The Origin of Dogs: Running With the Wolves," Science, 1997 June 13), that this may have occurred 100 thousand years ago. and given that humans have only been about for 200 thousand years, and the sort of consciousness and self-awareness that we know (according to julian jaynes, at least) has only been around for about 5 thousand years, this would suggest that dogs have had a tremendous influence upon human evolution: the acquisition of skills, and even spatiomotor capabilities; the development of language; the evolution of thought, self-consciousness, abstraction and conceptualization, etc. unless one is inclined to thinking that all of this takes place irrespective of the being's context and relations.

    it's true that far fewer people have the sort of working relations with animals that they did "back in the day," but plenty of newer "occupations" have emerged in recent decades to replace the former ones--and in most instances, it hardly amounts to "slavery" as dogs like to work (so are you going to ask me how i "know" this?

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    ). and sure, most dogs and such haven't got proper occupations--but in many instances, some sort of occupation emerges: parmalee just became a "service dog" after he saved my life many years ago; apart from the education i gave him, he hadn't received any sort of "proper" training for being an epilepsy service dog--he was just a hell of lot better than everyone else at figuring out when i was having, or about to have, a seizure (i've had few tonic-clonics, most of mine are of the "acting very strangely" and falling down variety), and he did an excellent job at keeping at bay the fucking idiots--who wanted to stick something in my mouth, so i didn't "swallow my tongue"--and the fucking cops (and their ilk)--who just wanted to beat me up. so far more animals have "occupations" than is "officially" acknowledged.

    so as to the query: why have dogs and such? well, why not?
  23. Raithere plagued by infinities Valued Senior Member

    As for that, I agree. Now if we can just get them to stop and take the same consideration before popping out, oh let's say 14 children (just off the top of my head), like a human pez dispenser.


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