Saturday, April 29, 2017

“Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.” ― Groucho Marx


I have no idea where this picture came from, just that it showed up on my screen one day and I couldn't help but save it for my own viewing pleasure. How on earth did the photographer get 23 (your count may be different) dogs to all pose in such a cheerful group? Although most dogs get along with one another quite well it's exceedingly odd to see them arranged in neat rows like a football team or an old fashioned school class. Looking at it makes me happy.

“Man is the Reasoning Animal. Such is the claim. I think it is open to dispute. Indeed, my experiments have proven to me that he is the Unreasoning Animal... In truth, man is incurably foolish. Simple things which other animals easily learn, he is incapable of learning. Among my experiments was this. In an hour I taught a cat and a dog to be friends. I put them in a cage. In another hour I taught them to be friends with a rabbit. In the course of two days I was able to add a fox, a goose, a squirrel and some doves. Finally a monkey. They lived together in peace; even affectionately.

Next, in another cage I confined an Irish Catholic from Tipperary, and as soon as he seemed tame I added a Scotch Presbyterian from Aberdeen. Next a Turk from Constantinople; a Greek Christian from Crete; an Armenian; a Methodist from the wilds of Arkansas; a Buddhist from China; a Brahman from Benares. Finally, a Salvation Army Colonel from Wapping. Then I stayed away for two whole days. When I came back to note results, the cage of Higher Animals was all right, but in the other there was but a chaos of gory odds and ends of turbans and fezzes and plaids and bones and flesh--not a specimen left alive. These Reasoning Animals had disagreed on a theological detail and carried the matter to a Higher Court.”

― Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth: Uncensored Writings 



If there's a saving grace for humanity it's that our dogs love us.


11 comments:

Should Fish More said...

The only thing I can offer is this line from his tv show....he was interviewing/talking to a guy who had like 8 kids. Groucho asked why so many kids....the guy responded "I guess I just really love my wife." Groucho nodded and said "Yeah, I love my cigar too, but I take it out once in awhile."

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Susan,
An interesting quote from Mark Twain, who was head of his time with a lot of his thinking and wrote a lot of interesting essays but whose cynicism seemed to have increased during his last 20 years, when he became ensconced with such extreme views. I think the absurdity over religious wars influenced a lot of his negative thinking.
But one today I think is more inclined towards the conclusions of Jane Goodall and others, that nature and the animal kingdoms (more particularly the great apes) behave just as in a loving or diabolical fashion as the human species does. Indiscriminate killing, fighting over territory and even outbursts of vengeance or hatred indicate they behave just as we do except they don’t have the weaponry or material advantage. Growing up in the country you realize nature can be quite ruthless and some animals will kill purely for sport. Even certain domesticated dogs will instinctively kill all the hens in coup given the chance. It seems improbable many amongst such a friendly group of dogs would entertain such an action but I am afraid I have the scars that prove it.
Best wishes

Tom said...

I love dogs with a passion, but.....I find myself in agreement with Lindsay on this point.

susan said...

That's a very good one, Mike. I remember watching 'You Bet Your Life' when I was a kid. The movies they made are still hilarious (although I'm glad Zeppo decided on a career other than romantic lead).

susan said...

Hi Lindsay,
Mark Twain would be remembered as a giant of American literature even if his only books had been the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. As a journalist, and being an astute observer of people and the civilization that birthed him, Twain spoke and wrote about every aspect of life that interested him. The fact he became depressed after the deaths of family members and friends isn't so surprising, besides the fact that all our lives are about change and not remaining static in our views. He was a very complicated man as any deeper reading of his work will show.

The great apes Jane Goodall studied are chimpanzees, a species we have come to understand will wreak violence on one another. Dian Fossey also studied great apes, in her case, mountain gorillas who don't engage in murderous behaviours. Of course, had Twain actually made this 'experiment' the results would have been different, but the distinction between us and the animal world is (as you pointed out) that they don't collude with one another or build weapons before going berserk on the creatures who live up the path. Another thing that strikes me as significant is that as our numbers have increased exponentially we have put a lot of pressure on wild creatures by encroaching on their habitats.

As for dogs, yes, I've learned to be careful around them too - especially if they've become a pack (one dog = one dog brain, two dogs = one half dog brain etc.). Yet they and us evolved together and as such can reflect both the best and worst of our behaviours. We can compare scars one day.
All the best

susan said...

Dogs are a delight, Tom. I always agree with Lindsay too ♡

Ol'Buzzard said...

Twain was the George Carlin of his day - or perhaps that is backwards... it is a shame Carlin didn't write fiction. Twain's 'Letters To The Earth' are my favorite - that and the Fly. Twain said God made man because he was disappointed with the monkey. It is a shame He didn't stop with the monkey.
The Ol'Buzzard

susan said...

Carlin saw all the same things Twain did but was in a position to offer his observations in a more immediate fashion. That's a great comment about the monkey.

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Susan,
I agree Fossey’s studies painted a rosy picture, except for the occasional male gorilla involved in acts of infanticide, so that overall gorillas seemed to be usually peaceful.
But a series of observations of mountain gorillas in Africa's Virunga Mountains, published in the journal Scientific Reports, has now overturned Fossey’s view of gorillas.
Groups of males and females have been observed attacking other gorillas on three separate occasions in 2004, 2010 and 2013. The attacks took place in the same population studied by Fossey. It seems to me, all things have evolved, given sufficient motivation or circumstance to fight or revert to violence.
http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20161128-groups-of-gorillas-have-turned-violent
Best wishes

susan said...

Hi Lindsay,
I didn't know about this. Now that I do I feel more sad than I did before. Still, the last part of what I said previously about the amount of environmental pressure we put on wild animals by decreasing their habitat space might very well be a factor.
All the best

Sean Jeating said...

Intelligence is a constant.
Mankind's population is growing ... and growing ...