John Humans, NineMSN writer, is concerned that dogs are nothing more then good imitators about to steal our sympathy and all the material goodies that come with it:
“…People get something out of these relationships, it’s true. But dogs look as if they are getting more. John Archer, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Central Lancashire, has gone so far as to suggest that dogs are social parasites.
“Pets,” he wrote in a 1997 paper, with the hint of a killjoy’s glee, “can be considered to manipulate the human species. They are similar in this regard to social parasites such as the cuckoo … The affection, food, and time and energy devoted to a pet is not repaid in terms of related offspring and it could have been more profitably spent caring for human offspring and relatives.”
Archer judged our relationships with pets as “maladaptive behavior,” and though his argument is about evolution rather than about the day-to-day life with animals, it tended to reinforce the notion that there was something amiss with these increasingly intimate relationships. Stella, he seemed to suggest, was duping me, selling me a bill of goods with those big brown eyes, getting something for nothing.”
Earth to Mr Humans – dogs in his world may be just pretty adornments sitting on a couch, but in the real world (and long before NineMSN was around) dogs did real jobs – lifesaving jobs, like hunting food, alerting to danger and saving people. Dogs didn’t fake these things, they acted for real.
But in the world of suburbia where all these heroic stuff has become irrelevant, dogs have become something else – patient listeners, companions, caregivers. Because that’s what we wanted them to be. You could say that dogs are our honest mirror of ourselves, becoming that which we are lacking most. If that is some kind of clever evolutionary trick dogs have developed to get stuff for free, maybe Mr Humans needs some counseling to develop more trust in others.