Date of publication: January 21, 1998

"The Dog Internet"

by Michael Finley
Copyright 1998 by Michael Finley

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When you take your dog for a walk, you know your dog is aware of things you aren't aware of. But did you know dogs have their own Internet?

Out on a walk, the human may be enjoying the exercise. Or it may be lost in that fuzzy reverie pet owners give themselves to. Many people look forward to walks as an opportunity to bond with their pet, as a special moment between the species. And there are humans who impatiently urge the dog on because they have better things to do than walk a dog.

But to the dog the walk is everything. In rain, sleet, snow, or scorching heat, it is just as eager to get out and do its thing. The walk is not about getting exercise or bonding with the master. The walk is about trees and smells.

Every time a city dog takes a walk, it logs onto the dog Internet, in which it communicates with all other dogs in its network. Dogs download data with their noses, which house 10,000 times the information receptors that human noses have. And they upload data with their bladders.

Like our Internet, the dog Internet is ubiquitous yet invisible. We can see the dogs, and we can see the trees, but the network itself is transparent. To participate in the dog Internet, human eyes are useless. You need a nose, one 10,000 times better than your current one.

For a human to "see" the dog Internet, you might want to videotape a single city block from above, perhaps a gondola shot from a blimp. You will want to film the proceedings using sped-up, stop-gap camera technique, like that famous film of a rose blooming, then wilting, all in ten seconds.

And you would want to add chroma key video "tracer" to the dog pee, highlighting it like an enhanced hockey puck on TV, so it appears bright blue or hunter orange as it splashes onto tree trunks, fence posts, telephone po les and bushes. After a day of shooting, run the sped-up tape and, finally, you will "see" the dog Internet. You would see that a single city block experiences scores of uploads, each one a splash of fireworks, plus hundr eds of downloads. Each hit is a message from one dog to all other dogs logging onto that network.

Since dogs cross streets, the tracers cross the street with them, carrying news from one block to the next, thus creating a network of networks -- an Internet.

In both Internets, telephony plays a vital role. While the human Internet is conducted by electricity along telephone phone lines, the dog Internet is conducted by urine and other scents distributed along telephone poles -- and other vertical objects.

While the messages dogs post are encrypted, so as to be readable only by other dogs, it is not hard to guess what they are saying. They are saying the same basic thing we say on our Internet: I was here.

Each day's marked signpost is like a prisoner's hashmark. It may contain clues about your existence: "My name is Smoky. I am this tall. I had noodle soup for lunch. I am very fierce and very potent. But I might like to pl ay. This belongs to me."

The dog Internet is not a dogs-only Internet. The trees carry the scent of every creature that has been near. In the city this may include cats, squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, insects, slugs, snails, and birds of every fea ther. Each has a story to tell that is interesting to the dog, and invisible to you.

Marking is a form of online advertisement. It is a dog's way of saying who I am, how big I am, and where you can find me. The higher up a pole a dog posts his message, the more status accrues to him.

This becomes amusing when you realize that height on the pole does not always correlate with size of the dog. It is inspiring to watch the efforts of undersized dogs to stand practically on their heads to direct their str eam to the topmost point on a pole or tree trunk. Dogs are not above Internet forgery.

The dog Internet is essentially urban in nature. The countryside does not have the critical ratio of dogs to trees and telephone poles to create the network effect. In the country, there are more trees but fewer dogs. In my city neighborhood, there are about perhaps 20,000 people, 4,000 or so dogs, and half as many trees. This is a favorable ratio for a canine community bulletin board. So many dogs, distributed among a handful of trees , means that no bush, no hydrant, no No Parking signpost, is spared.

The next time you are out with your dog, and you can't understand his urgency to get to the next tree trunk, try to appreciate what he is going through. He is experiencing sensory overload, downloading from multiple sites simultaneously. Give him time, and a long leash, and let him be about his business.

Make payments with PayPal - it's fast, free and secure!
Get your signed copy of
The NEW Why Teams Don't Work
by Mike & Harvey Robbins
from Berrett-Koehler Publishers
Just click on the book cover!
A fully revised second edition of this award-winning classic
by Harvey Robbins and Michael Finley
Paperback

Winner, Financial Times/Booz Allen & Hamilton Global Business Book Award, Best Management Book - The Americas, 1995


Table of contents and sample chapters of this book...


Just click on the book cover to order your signed copy for only $12.95.
Make payments with PayPal - it's fast, free and secure!
Table of contents and sample chapters of this book...
Why Change Doesn't Work:
Why Initiatives Go Wrong and How to Try Again and Succeed
Harvey Robbins, Michael Finley
Hardcover
Just click on the book cover to order your signed copy for only $12.95.
Make payments with PayPal - it's fast, free and secure!
"This is the first treatise on change we've seen that is actually entertaining. The authors cover human and organizational barriers to change and change theories, and then take a tour of management theory that's guaranteed to upset every reader at one point or another." -- HR ONLINE

Table of contents and sample chapters of this book...

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