Bill Cutshall’s Weblog

January 5, 2009

There Will Never Be a Dog World

Filed under: Whimsy — billcutshall @ 12:06 pm
Tags: , , ,

Driving in the car with my wife and two little girls made me realize that a society of intelligent dogs could never exist.  Small changes to any system can have broad-reaching and unexpected effects and the same is true with human beings.  Unlike most mammals, human beings do not reach adult size within 12 months of their birth.  Dogs, deer, mice, moose, and weasels all reach near adult size within the first year of their life.  Were humans to follow that rule, discipline would be nearly impossible and our children would grow into unruly anti-social adults.

Well, it’s only a theory but still, think about it.  It occurred to me as my girls were relentlessly annoying each other (it had been that kind of morning) that my size was my one true advantage in forcing discipline on my children.  As challenging and independent as they are, there is no way they would stay in time-out were they not certain that daddy would pick them up and put them right back in should they leave their chair.  We are not a spanking family but I can’t imagine a spanking hard enough to provide any long-term disincentive to a full-grown human without also causing permanent damage.

Sure, teenagers are nearly full-sized and they accept discipline of varying forms.  You can ground them, cut their allowance, and limit access to the things they love but all of that is predicated on an understanding of cause and effect and a value of reward and companionship.  Those are learned responses not strongly present in three-year-olds.  In fact if you had never conditioned your teen to accept discipline as a child there is a likelihood that they wouldn’t accept it as a teenager either.

So until my girls develop a sense of time that extends beyond today and tomorrow, a feeling for the value of currency, and the responsibility to be given freedom for me to later restrict, I guess “why?” actually does come down to “because daddy said so and daddy is bigger than you.”

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