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Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Human Whisperer


Earlier this week, I visited a home in which animals live. I met Clyde. Clyde is a Basset --derived from the French word bas, meaning "low" and the attenuating suffix -et, together meaning "rather low".  They are an improbable breed, designed originally as self-moving, six-legged benches but, at some crucial point, became too intelligent to allow themselves to be further modified.

Bassets were quite content to be "rather low" because it minimized injury. On level ground, they cannot trip and fall beyond the length of their legs, about three inches, and they were pleased with this. However, if breeders succeeded in growing them a third set of legs in the middle, there would be no turning back from evolution into benches. So they put a stop to it. We must now examine their brains.

Bassets have square --cuboid-- brains where humans have round --roughly spherical-- brains. Observe:
The trajectory of a human thought follows an arc. If it meets with no obstacles, a human thought will fly out and along the curvature of its round brain and orbit indefinitely. Basset thoughts, on the other hand, bank off the planes and corners of square brains and repeatedly recross the center of attention. In those rare moments when Bassets become confused, they simply collect and rack up their thoughts for a new break --much like billiards-- hence their phenomenal powers of concentration. They used this intellectual advantage to subtly convince humans that Bassets would be better rabbit-catchers than benches --an idea which, if you consider their general construction, is just silly.

In the photo, Clyde is whispering something to me. I don't recall it exactly but it had to do with "Kitchen...doggie treats...green bag, top shelf...the really stinky ones." My impressions, beyond DOGGIE TREATS, are foggy from that point but a short while later my memory resumes and Clyde was in possession of them.

  


37 comments:

  1. Looks like Clyde found himself a softie.....um....Geo.....Oreos, top shelf, double chocolate...yeah...that's the stuff, thanks.

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    1. Ah, superior minds skilled in hypnotic suggestion --my decided weakness.

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  2. And goodness Bassetts are strong, A neighbour's Bassett came visiting one day. It didn't want to go home. And she had to call her husband because once it sat down and 'dug its toes in' she was completely unable to move it. Strong and strong minded are a dangerous combination.

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    1. Indeed, I have learned this from my children who are all smarter and stronger than I. Perhaps that's why Clyde singled me out.

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  3. I learn so much from your posts, Geo. I am not always sure what I learn, but I know it is good. Bassetts are short, smart dogs whose sad eyes can easily get treats from people because they know a softie when they see one.

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    1. Softie?! Me a softie???!!! Alas, yes.

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  4. Cute pooch. You never stood a chance.

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    1. I wouldn't either. Being a pushover is its own reward, though.

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  5. I love bassets. There is an Oregon basset enthusiast group that sponsors "Basset Hound Games" every summer. They have competitions in such things as "Marathon Napping" and "Endurance Sitting (no obedience-trained dogs, please)" I used to take Eddy to a class in Rally Obedience (suffice it to say that's a dog sport) & at least half of the fun of going to it was watching the one basset in the class. He only cared about his nose, that was all.
    I have told my kids that when I get old I'm getting a basset. We'll nap all day & eat the rest of the time.

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    1. I think I'd do well at the Basset Hound Games, as an observer if not a competitor --even though I'm house-trained. Sounds like a hoot!

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  6. I do believe Clyde found a friend, a good friend.
    My niece has two bassets and they are very sweet.
    Great shot of you and Clyde
    Smiles ...

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    1. Thanks Margie! Yes, Clyde is quite photogenic. I look almost human beside him.

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    2. Thanks! Now I see that you see the value of our canine companions. Jasper appreciates that, too!

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    3. Indeed Will, they keep us walking and reaching and demand nothing in return except our obedience.

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  7. Dear Geo.,
    I am always stunned by your fantasy and imagination - benches indeed!
    At the moment I consider trading my long legs to Basset-ones - "because it minimized injury. On level ground, they cannot trip and fall beyond the length of their legs, about three inches" - the only obstacle to that is husband who thinks that even now I buy too many shoes (though a woman can never have too many)

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    1. Dear Brigitta, your recent experiment with new running shoes and gravity might have had worse results with 3-inch legs --less time to make important decisions on the way down. Hope you are mending quickly.

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  8. I cannot let this moment pass without mentioning our Mol. I remember - as if it were yesterday - the day we first met her. She was about the size of a tea mug, only part house-trained, and she scrabbled towards me, her little tail wagging furiously. (No, we do not believe in tail-docking!) She was, and has remained, a little bit of heaven on four legs. She (an black, English Cocker) has always known which strings to pull, and how to pull them. There are times when I think that she thinks she is a human, and we are her pups. With non-existent hearing and failing eyesight, she has passed some of the duties of being top dog over to Lucy and me. But heaven help us if we push our luck too far!

    Sorry for going on but she, like all animals, is something special; not unlike Clyde in some respects. I loved your post Geo. Give yourself a treat, I would.

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    1. Most kind Tom, sounds as though you've found the ideal dog.

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  9. Bassets have such lovely personalities. Actually bassets can go into rabbit warrens as hunters, but they get so heavy that they might get stuck.

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    1. Ah, considering the girth of Bassets of my acquaintance, many must end up irretrievably stuck. I can see why new ones are in constant demand.

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  10. 'they simply collect and rack up their thoughts for a new break --much like billiards-- hence their phenomenal powers of concentration.'

    I rather love this.

    And why do pet treats always smell so powerfully? Or perhaps this is just a figment of the round brain?

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    1. Pet treats smell the way they do because dogs naturally love to roll and drape themselves in half-rotten things. Commercial treats are scientifically engineered to reproduce this luxury.

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  11. I've always suspected that I have a square - cuboid - brain, but some Bassets are smarter than me......

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    1. As an amateur phrenologist, I would estimate your brain --and mine-- as circular or ovoid from photographic evidence. Bassets exceed us only in some areas of mentation --like hypnosis.

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  12. I do not know any basset but my husband’s secretary had three of them and she was also in charge of the basset rescue in her area. She would take them to the office once in a while and treated them just like little persons. I am a cat person but I still like dogs.

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    1. They are a lovely sort of dog indeed, but unfortunately drool from jowls and ears and some other points I am loathe to investigate. However, I too am fond of Bassets.

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  13. I wondered why I can never seem to gather my thoughts. If only I had a square brain.

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    1. Michelle, I consider our round brains imminently adequate. My thoughts gather by static electrical attraction, like dustbunnies.

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  14. Susan, somehow your comment went back in time to the previous post. I reproduce it here:

    Susan Flett SwiderskiMarch 24, 2014 at 9:37 AM

    Don't let dogs fool you, no matter what shape their brains are. They know exactly how to train us.

    Remember Louie? A dog has to do a lot of people training to get 'em to do all the work. Better be careful. The next time he sees you, that basset will have you rolling over and barking for a treat.

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xl9184PAaXc‎

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    1. I watched the clip and found Louie and Clyde of similar mindsets. Clyde gets one or another end of himself elevated and is content to stay that way for life.

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    2. The older I get, the more I resemble good ol' Louie.

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    3. Same here, Susan. Under Bob Williams' guidance, we might have a successful stage career!

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  15. Sounds like a classic case of basset hypnotism.

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    1. Indeed, one of my many weaknesses. My wife is vulnerable only to Kryptonite.

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  16. How could one not stoop to serve this gorgeous breed. Third pair of legs.....hee hee hee.....(visual thought!)

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    1. Indeed, one must generally stoop or kneel to commune with Bassets. But some, like Clyde, are content to let one sit.

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