A poop story
When my dog poops, peculiar little things happen. And it feels like she does those things just to annoy me.
For example, even finding the right spot to poop takes sometimes forever. From my perspective it feels like she is waiting for the stars to align before she can finally do her business.
Sometimes she also seems to position her poop on other objects, like branches, leaves, and stones. This is comical but also somewhat troublesome when having to pick up this whole installation into one little plastic bag.
This week, while she was once again searching for the right spot, I started to wonder: “There must be some better reason for this.” I mean dogs are possibly the best non-human animals when it comes to detecting or tracing people’s mind states. However it’s not very likely and maybe beyond their mind-reading skills to walk around by constantly figuring out the things that I find most annoying.
So in order to understand her perspective, I decided to do a bit of reading.
After a very quick search, I couldn’t find any reliable discussion concerning dogs but I did find couple of articles reporting results from studies focusing on wolves. These were studies by Vilá, Urios and Castroviejo (1994) and by Barja, de Miguel and Bárcena (2004). According to them both wolves don’t poop just anywhere. This may be because like their pee also their feces carry important social functions (for example, a warning signal). Therefore wolves searched crossroads or trail junctions where the probability of the poop being detected later by someone else was higher. In many cases these cross-roads also included some extra reference points, such as decaying bark or isolated shrubs, which researchers suggested might enhance either visually or olfactorily the signal’s effectiveness.
So, wolves seem to prefer to poop in places where the maximum amount of other wolves cross and they also poop on different kinds of things in order to enhance the signal’s chances of being found.
Dogs have descended from wolves but they are not wolves. So making the connections straightforwardly from wolves’ behavior to dogs’ behavior does not always apply. However sometimes it does and when it comes to my dog’s pooping, this information does at least help to decrease my annoyance.
It’s feels like: “Ok. I get it. I don’t perceive or experience what you perceive and experience. It seems to me that where you are coming from, it’s important that others find your poop and you send messages and receive messages via poop. We humans instead, we flush the toilet and act like it never happened.”
© EJ 2013 All rights reserved (Contact me if you want to make a copy and use any images for publication elsewhere: simpledrawings [at] gmail [dot] com)