Finally, we come to the results of my 'Science of Human Behaviour' project (for background, see 1st July post).
I have to tell you that when I first embarked on this study, Gail was a bit uneasy, saying "I hope you realise that you have chosen a very complicated subject Bertie, I fear you might have bitten off more than you can chew".
Well I reminded her that I have, I believe, an infinite capacity for chewing, so that really shouldn't be a problem.
One month later, I have come to the conclusion that Gail was right and I am having to eat my own words....
Oh you have no idea how hard it has been, trying to make sense of all the fascinating reports you kindly sent me about the behaviour of the humans in your household.
My starting point, naturally, was a sociobiological perspective. Surely, I thought, all human actions can be interpreted in Darwinian terms as evolutionary aids to survival.
To render the data more manageable, my first step was to divide it into broad categories. By and large this worked, and most of the reported behaviours fell into one of the following four groups.
Group A: Human exhibiting meanness to dog (e.g. withholding the tastiest food)
Group B: Human ignoring dog (e.g. by going to work or to the gym)
Group C: Poor logic shown by human (e.g. shaving off their own furs then complaining of the cold)
Group D: Extreme excitement or distress of human when sport is on TV (you should have seen Gail watching the Tour de France last weekend...)
So far so good.
But then I tried to work out the adaptive rationale behind all these behaviours, and started to lose confidence.
Can one explain the human urge to spend time dressing up their pup in cute frocks in terms of the survival of the fittest? What has refusing to share a cheeseburger with your dog to do with altruism? Can there really be a 'selfish gene' for not allowing a pet enough computer time?
Feeling quite overwhelmed, I confided in my neighbour Jake. It seems I asked the right dog.
Jake tells me he knows all about human behaviour 'cos he shares a household with a nearly qualified Jungian psychotherapist!
So, I learn it was a big mistake ever to imagine that the reductive, mechanistic methods of scientific analysis would be the right approach. Apparently what most of the respondents to my survey will need, for their behaviour to be understood, is years of (expensive) individual therapy in which their subconscious can be thoroughly scrutinised and their dream world subject to in depth exploration.
Oh and Jake tells me he'll accept gravy bones as commission for every new client he brings to his human.
As for me, I have decided in future to stick to the natural sciences.