Tuesday, December 13, 2005

France, natural selection, and sleeping dogs

Le Cours MirabeauThis evening, I pulled out an old photo CD of my trip to a friend's wedding in Aix-en-Provence, way back in June 2002. I used to have them online at Artsy Fartsy but Alex took that website down a few months ago, so I'm uploading them to Flickr. While I was playing with the pictures and tagging them, Declan jumped up on the sofa & sat down right next to me. Then he started nodding his head... and leaning over to the side... slowly... until the side of his head bumped my ibook. He jumped up with a "how in the world am I supposed to nap with that thing on your lap?" look. I had to fold up a blanket and place next to me, so that he could nod his head slowly over onto it. He knows that I'm a sucker for how cute he is when he's sleeping, and he knows very well that I'm willing to contort myself into all sorts of crazy positions, let my arms fall asleep, put huge cricks into my neck, in order to let him fall asleep on my lap. I can't help it, he's so precious when he's fast asleep.

At work today, I got in a long discussion with two other P13Ners about how different dog breeds show how natural selection and evolution work. Of course, with dogs, it's not so much natural selection most of the time, but humans doing the trait selection. But it leads to analogous results. One of the other dogs on our floor is a little black daschund, Scooter, who's a cute little guy. The conversation started when Declan walked into an office and did a loop under the desk to look for crumbs. My friend commented that Declan didn't see - or didn't smell - a few crumbs that were down there, but Scooter would soon be by & would vacuum them up. Stephanie wanted to know why Scooter would be better at picking up crumbs than Declan, and I remarked "Oh, he's not a herding dog, so he's got way better eyesight and a better sense of smell." So we talked about how Declan is rather far-sighted but has super hearing, because those skills help you keep track of sheep, while Scooter, who was originally bred to hunt small animals, has a really good sense of smell. The we talked about Sammy's webbed retriever feet and fetch obsession. And Declan's duclaws and the rocky Shetland Islands, then how much humans knowingly selected different traits, while others just emerged. So yet another reason why it's fun having dogs at work, they lead to random discussions of Stephen Jay Gould.

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