I met Greg walking his dogs this morning and quoted Redskin’s football great (Rick “Doc” Walker’s) wisdom in passing: “Everyone’s gotta’ have a little dog to be successful in the sports and life; are these pups your protection?”
Approaching a Stranger with Dogs
I was taking a morning walk around the park when I spotted a man about half way around my route sitting on a bench under the shade of a giant old tree so dense and dripping with leaves it reminded me of a mountain of spinach. It was a beautiful morning before things heated up as I approached Druid Park in Baltimore, third oldest park in America; but my eyes were focused on the stranger and his dogs as I got closer.
I approached carefully as I watched him petting his little dogs. He seemed friendly but his pups looked like Doberman Pinschers to me, which, full grown, used to scare the hell out of me chasing me on my bike when I delivered newspapers as a teenager. I could not outrun these athletic killer dogs on my bike and am sure I only survived because of my superior defensive skills with a tightly rolled-up newspaper.
This had been the first private moment in my young life that I had to find a little “dog” in me. As two pinschers gave up the chase I looked back at them and yelled triumphantly: “You have to fight dog with dog” in my best impersonation of a TV announcer’s authoritative voice. I never forgot this event, and was reminded of it as I approached this stranger and his pinscher dogs.
Making Friends with Greg and his Pinschers
I stopped to say hello to Greg, introducing myself, while keeping my eye on his pinschers. I broke the ice by opening with my Rick Walker joke line about “we all need a little dog to survive and succeed,” and asked how old his Dobermann Pinscher pups were?
He said matter of factly that his dogs were not pups but two years old and full grown, and that technically they were Miniature Pinschers, or “Mini-Pins.” He continued telling me that they are mistakenly called Doberman’s because they look like the larger breed; the Mini-Pins were actually bred over two hundred years ago, earlier than the larger more aggressive Doberman’s breed, so people assumed Doberman’s were bred first.
I played with his friendly Mini-Pins for a bit and continued my walk, confident that I had enough “dog” in me to thwart any surprise attack by these cute little Mini-Pins.
Circle of Life
My walk follows a circular path back past where Greg and his Mini-Pins were stationed, and they were getting up to leave as I approached. I yelled ahead and asked if I could take some pictures of him and his dogs and post them on my blog, and he said “yes” after checking out my blog on his smartphone.
While I was clicking photos, I got some background info. His dogs are named MacGyver and Columbo after the personalities of these TV stars.
Greg described them with joy. “The one with the dark-coat is always trying to manipulate his physical surroundings to change it or escape like MacGyver; The light-coat one is laid back sizing up the situation, the people, the action, and figuring out what’s going on like Colombo. They are both energetic, smart, with good dispositions, and loyal to their owners.”
Greg said he got interested in dog companions as part of his 23-year career in the military when he was stationed in Korea, but did not elaborate. He was visiting some relatives in the Baltimore area.
He did not ask, but the expression on his face as we were wrapping up said to me: “What made you want to take our picture?”
So, I spoke up: “When I first saw you, a physically imposing ex-military Vet and your two little dogs, I wasn’t sure who was protecting whom?” Greg laughed warmly and said they definitely think they are in charge; at least I let them them think so.” That’s probably why Greg has to protect his dogs in our smarter-than-dogs human world, even though they are 100% dog!
This made me wonder if super intelligent AI robots will treat inferior humans as humanely as Greg treats his Mini-Pins? Will tiny toy humans be bred as pets for the amusement of our super intelligent AI beings and their offspring?
Our track record is not so good.