dog tree

by H. Millard © 2006

Here's the relevant part of  Denver Colorado's ordinance 8-55:
Sec. 8-55. Pit bulls prohibited.
(a)   It shall be unlawful for any person to own, possess, keep, exercise control over, maintain, harbor, transport, or sell within the city any pit bull.
Although the ordinance is silent on the reason why Pit bulls are prohibited, reason tell us it is because the breed is dangerous and is frequently in the news because Pit bulls have attacked and killed human beings.
Now, dear friends, not every Pit bull has attacked human beings.  So, should the City of Denver penalize all Pit bulls for the actions of a few? Shouldn't we treat all Pit bulls as individuals?  Don't all dogs bleed red blood?  
Enough.  To understand human beings, we need to understand the basics of life and genes.  All of life has lessons for us, and dogs are no exception.
In  1993, the scientific name of dogs was changed from Canis familaris to Canis lupus familaris after DNA studies proved that dogs and wolves were the same species.  Almost identical genetically.
Scientists now believe that all 300 (and more coming) domestic purebred dog breeds evolved  from a relatively small handful of grey wolves that lived about 15,000 years ago. In addition to the purebred breeds, there are countless mixed breeds that are the source for new breeds.
Today, dogs have more variation in shape, size, color and behavior than any other mammal on earth.  And, as we've written in other contexts, the genetic differences between, say, a toy poodle and a Pit bull are almost impossible to find.  The reason for the difficulty in finding genetic differences, as we've written before, is because it doesn't take much change at the DNA end of things to create animals that seem so different from each other that you might suspect they're not related at all.
It is, as I've written many times before, the tiny little differences at the DNA level of living things that are important, not the similarities.  An almost imperceptible little shuffle of the DNA cards and you turn a man into a mouse. Anyone who has ever fired a rifle understands how small things at one end can mean big differences at the other end. And, no, I'm not making cute about "this is my rifle this is my gun...."  Aim at a target 300 yards away with a rifle and if you don't hold your breath, the slight flinch caused by your breathing may cause you to miss the target by many yards.  
How is it that dogs have diversified so much over a relatively short 15,000 years?  You already know the answer.  Humans bred them for different characteristics.  We were their gods of evolution. Because of the major hand that humans have had in dog evolution, some scientists are now classifying dogs according to their functional relationship with human beings rather than according to characteristics that are inherent in the dogs themselves.  Thus, there are  "sight" and "scent" hounds, "working and guard", "toy and companion", "northern", "flushing" spaniels, "water spaniel/retriever", "pointers" "terriers" and "herding."
So, are there lessons to be learned from what we know about dogs?  You bet.  Connect up the dots. Genes are us.  Humans are not above genes and we are not slightly less than the angels.  We are simply animals that nature has given a certain type of brain to ensure our survival, rather than fangs and claws.  And the things that our brains can do besides work for our direct survival?  Well, let's say that they are some of nature's unintended consequences and the natural result of the engineering with DNA that nature does constantly.
It may be, however, that nature has now weaned us as a species. We may have reached the point where we may have to be the Gods of our own evolution; as we seem to be for dogs.

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Ourselves Alone & Homeless Jack's Religion  

Ourselves Alone & Homeless Jack's Religion
messages of ennui and meaning in post-american america by H. Millard

In Ourselves Alone and Homeless Jack's Religion, H. Millard, the hard to pigeonhole author of The Outsider and Roaming the Wastelands, has put together some of his category bending commentaries on post-American America. The commentaries deal with politics, philosophy, free speech, genocide, religion and other topics in Millard's edgy style and lead up to Homeless Jack's Religion, in which Homeless Jack lays out revelations he found in a dumpster on skid row. Browse Before You Buy ISBN: 0-595-32646-3

Roaming the Wastelands  

- (ISBN: 0-595-22811-9)
H. Millard’s latest sacred cow toppling book, is now
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The Outsider  

THE OUTSIDER - (ISBN: 0-595-19424-9)
H. Millard’s underground classic story of alienation is
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