A couple of people wrote to share their pet experiences.
Jane told me she went househunting recently. She took her dog. And talked to her dog. “We always tell her whats going on so shes in the loop.
This is consistent with the theme of yesterdays post: that we are endowing our pets with new rights, responsibilities, and personhood. Not only is Gizmo part of this family. She is part of the loop, i.e., a sentient, informed, fully current participant in the household. This is transformational: a dumb animal has become a conversational partner with a “need to know.”
Now there are lots of oddities here.
First, In what sense can we tell a dog “whats going on? It puts one in mind of that Larson cartoon. What we say to our dog:
“Gizmo, were changing houses because were running out of room and Jeff really needs a bigger office.
What Gizmo hears:
“Gizmo, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Second, if Gizmo really is capable of grasping what we tell her when we make her part of ‘the loop, surely shes capable of working things out for herself. But this implausibility condition does not prevent us from having conversations with Gizmo or from believing that she has heard us. It is a fiction but its a useful, compelling, persuasive fiction.
And the next line of the email tells the larger story, “she’s helped me through some very rough times.
We are transforming our pets to make them useful companions as we struggle to live in a culture that is newly unpredictable, demanding, disequilibriating.
In a manner of speaking, all of our pets are now “seeing eye.”
[sorry this is rushed. I just checked into my hotel in Chicago and I am out the door.]
(Thanks to Steve Portigal for correcting my Booth, now Larson reference. This is what happens when you blog on the run, on the road.)