So first of all I would like to thank the ten pups (and other species) who braved potential retribution from their humans by entering them for my ‘Darwin-lite Award’ competition.
Gosh, reading your entries, it really is quite incredible that the human species has managed to evolve into ‘higher’ beings with sufficient leisure time to assist their dogs with social media activities…
Of course I wanted to make things simple by awarding prizes to every single entrant, but Gail said that would be far too expensive (really, she has been living in Aberdeen for too long) and I had to think carefully and select just one.
Where to start?
Of course, it was important to evaluate all the stories in a scientific manner, assessing their implications in the context of human evolution, natural selection and survival of the fittest.
First of all I think we must discount entries which, whilst for sure indicating a general level of mild stupidity, did not suggest a high potential for serious harm.
So Frankie and Ernie, yes your pictures of your Dad’s ‘butt crack’ are embarrassing and your Mom has clearly not mastered the art of realistic impersonation, but believe me, things could be so, so much worse. Brom, I thought your story of Mara boarding the wrong train was pretty serious, but Gail has lived in London at tells me that lots of people, including ones with very high up and responsible jobs, not infrequently board the wrong train or even fall asleep, miss their stop and end up in Penzance (especially around Christmas time), so we must conclude that this sort of human behaviour is no impediment to success in life. Likewise, Retro-rover pups, your Mom’s wearing of mismatched shoes, although worrying in someone who clearly takes good care of her appearance, is actually, judging by the comments to your post, quite normal amongst dog-blogging moms/mums. Oh yes, also in this ‘stupid but not catastrophically so’ category, I have included Lily and Edward's comment. Granted, it would have been smarter if your human had directed the water bottle at you guys and not herself when she was using it to stop you barking at a passing motorbike, but, hey, it’s only water!
What to make of Reilly and Denny’s Mom’s ‘issues’ with number and letters? This is indeed concerning, but one has to point out a couple of mitigating factors. First of all, she is due extra credits on the ‘mate selection’ front, and this is a great survival strategy to have mastered. So R+D’s Mom found a partner (their Dad) who not only helps her with her phone problems but also has stuck around despite being presented with an EMPTY OVEN for dinner. Oh yes, and by the way, who wouldn’t want to live in a world where all the signs read ‘Free Chicken’?
Craig’s tale about how he used paint-stripper to clean his first dog’s paws after said dog had walked across a freshly painted floor can, I think, be put down to youthful inexperience. One might even say the story suggests a certain level of creativity and problem solving ability, misguided in this instance but these are otherwise useful evolutionary traits.
Now we are moving on to the more worrying cases.
Bella, Roxy and Dui, WHATEVER WAS YOUR MOM THINKING!!! Really it is so important to be able to distinguish between vitamins and mind altering medication! Now if she had mistaken her tablets for candy, then it might have been excusable given the Scottie presence in the house and the fact that here in the Scottie ancestral homeland we do in fact have a type of fudge-like candy known as ‘tablet’. But this was a serious (if also in retrospect highly amusing) mistake. However, one could argue the fact that your Mom survived this horrifying incident shows a degree of evolutionary 'fitness’ despite the tendency to inadvertent drug taking.
On to our famous friend Easy Rider. Easy, from any other dog, I think your entry would be a strong contender for the prize. Uniquely, you gave us clear evidence of deeply worrying behaviours from BOTH of your ‘parents’. With a Dad who lights matches over a methane-emitting septic tank, and pokes a screwdriver in a lawnmower which is still running, and a Mom whose kitchen mishaps defy straightforward categorisation, it is indeed amazing that this family trio are still here and merrily blogging away. Only problem is Easy, we read similar stories from you most weeks! A case of ‘crying wolf’ too often, I’m afraid…
So we are left with two serious candidates for the ‘Darwin-lite Award’; Madi, and Stella and Rory, and the decision on the winner comes down to a matter of ‘head’ versus ‘heart’.
I will admit my heart says Madi. How many of you did not cry “Ouch! Ouch!! OUCH!!!” as you read how Madi’s Mom pierced her thumb, yes that so precious human appendage the opposable thumb, with a CROCHET HOOK. She did this while trying to poke an extra hole in her daughter’s friend’s sandal strap. Oh the drama of this story: the pain, the phone call made by the four year old daughter, the trip to the emergency room, the offer (refused) of the crochet hook for a ‘keepsake’…
Yes my heart says Madi. But we must remember this decision is to be made by applying rigorous scientific principles, and so ‘head’ must take precedence when it comes to choosing a winner.
So let me explain why the head says the award goes to Stella and Rory’s entry.
For those of you who missed the post, the nub of the matter is that one time, shortly after acquiring a new spaniel Kara, S+R’s Dad went out for a walk and spotted ‘his dog’ out loose down the street. Assuming the dog had escaped, he brought her back home. EXCEPT THAT IT WAS THE WRONG DOG AND KARA WAS AT HOME ALL THE TIME! Understandably, S+R’s family have never let their Dad forget this incident.
Oh dear. An ability to recognise one’s kith and kin is so important to survival isn’t it? Moreover, us dogs are descended from wolves and it is thought that these wolves first formed a bond with humans by offering protection from other predators in exchange for scraps of food. Pretty useful then, for the human to be able to figure out which of the wolves was the friendly one likely to co-operate and not attack, etc. Yes and another thing, Stella and Rory. Imagine what would happen in your household if your Dad brought home ‘the wrong human’? Picture the scenario. He goes out for a walk, runs into a woman he thinks he recognises and drags her home. Only to find his wife is already in the kitchen cooking his dinner? (Gail says this is outrageous gender stereotyping but no matter…) Well anyway, do we rate S+R’s Dad’s chances of survival in this instance? We do not.
So, congratulations Stella and Rory and your Dad! That was a TRULY AWESOME tale. I hereby pronounce you worthy winners of this years ‘Darwin-lite Award’!
(Gail will be getting in touch by email to find out your mailing address and a very special prize will shortly be winging its way from Scotland to Australia.)
PS from Gail: Sincere apologies if we missed mentioning any entries - it has been a busy couple of weeks.
Hi, I'm Bertie, a wire-haired fox terrier pup. I live with Gail in Aberdeen, Scotland. An old Westie called Hamish used to live here but he died on 18th February 2010 (exactly the same day I was born). People tell me that he used to have a blog and that I have big pawprints to fill. That's a bit too much responsibility for a very young puppy - and anyway, I intend to make my own mark!
(Gail says that Hamish could certainly have taught me a thing or two about marking stuff....)