Related, more recent read: On sentience, sapience and speciesism
Warning: This post has nothing to do with what I usually write – social media, digital marketing and communications – and is more about my other obsession: science fiction!
While filling petrol yesterday morning, I noticed an interesting scene. The resident pet dog of the petrol station, a majestic half-white labrador suddenly started barking. It ran towards a Hyundai Accent and started pawing at the window.
A gorgeous brown German Shephard was in the back seat and it came close to the window and both dogs were having a chat of sorts, in canine language.
The owner of the Accent (and the German Shephard) completed the petrol filling formalities, closed the glass window of the back seat and broke that canine conversation eventually. And drove away.
Since I’m also reading (or listening, since I use audiobooks to ‘consume’ books) Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves right now (the 3rd, much maligned part is 5,000 years into the future where a desolate Earth is being terraformed again, by humans who have settled in space), an intriguing thought occured in my mind.
We, as a species, rule/lord over other species like canines (and cows etc.) and curb their free will, by making them pets and forming rules on how they can live. If – a BIG if – by any freak chance, there are sentient species out there in space that are more aligned to canine (or bovine) ways of thought/perspectives and not to human, and are still sufficiently more advanced than our human species, what would the dogs of Earth tell them, when they land here?
Would they be more kind to humans who rear/breed/pet dogs (live with dogs) or to those who do not?
Humans who have dogs as pets would be, generally, seen as ones who control the dogs’ lives. But humans who do not have dogs as pets may be broadly seen as those that do not control canines in any form.
From the perspective of sentient canine-aligned species from out there, people with dogs may be seen as oppressors against that species, than those that do not have dogs as pets!
The alternative thought for this is that the dogs that are ‘well treated’ by their human masters may put in a good word for them and ask that the sentient aliens treat them kindly. But this ‘kindly’ could even mean putting the human master on a leash, feeding them their favorite food 4 times a day and taking them out for a walk to complete their bodily excretion – that’s what we’ve conditioned dogs to understand as ‘good treatment’ incidentally.
This is no doubt science fiction, but think about it!
PS: If you liked this post, on any level, I highly recommend you try Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow. It’s about the Jesuit Missionary (and not NASA or any space program) organizing a trip to a distant planet that makes contact with Earth, because only they have/get the money and consensus needed to mount such an expensive and bleak mission! It’s a fascinating twist on sci-fi!
Pic courtesy, Dave Dorman!