The dogs of this neighborhood have their own newsgroup and email, utilizing variations in uric acid content instead of an alphabet.
This occured to me while I was walking Beast, the oldest and largest of my guard dogs. We're roughly the same age in dog and human years, respectively, and we both need exercise as often as we can get it, so I take him out on a leash for walks around the neighborhood and the nearby lake.
I'm just walking and daydreaming and idly eyeballing the female joggers. But Beast is reading his newsgroup and posting messages.
His access server, the neighborhood beyond the walls of our house, isn't as automated as the Internet, so messages are't all left in the same place. He has to physically travel from tree to tree to fire hydrant, sniffing out the threads started by other dogs. I can't read them because my nose is "blind" compared to his, just as he has only his mouth for hands (and finds himself in a serious quandry when, for instance, he suffers a dingleberry). But he can sure find those posts... the gopher of his nose leads him straight to them, pulling me behind, and he doesn't just skim over them - he REALLY READS 'EM. He imbeds his snout into the grass or gravel and snorts and snuffles around for up to 30 seconds, and sometimes what he reads makes him pretty agitated. He adopts a sort of a "Who does this mutt think he is?' expression, lifts his leg and posts his reply for the next dog to come along and get infuriated over. Isn't this identical territorial behavior to that of we bipeds on the net?
He can't actually see the other dogs. He can tell by the styles of certain messages that he has read posts from those authors before. Others are probably from complete strangers. At least, this would be true out in the main doggie newsgroup of the well-traveled lake area; it's common turf, not belonging to any one dog or Master. No dogs LIVE at the lake. The borders of our housing development, however, are more akin to his email, because he has specifically marked out "his" turf here, and the majority of the messages are from dogs he "knows". (Even if he doesn't see them, he hears and smells them all the time.) While we hit the lake only once a week or so, we make the rounds of the development almost every day. He makes a point of always leaving his posts in the same general places, unless he finds that some other dog has been leaving HIS messages in some new place, in which case Beast has to read them frantically and then obliterate them with a fresh shower of "text." Much as I do during my Usenet sessions, he waxes longer at the beginning; toward the end, he's gone dry and can send only token dribbles. In some of the places he checks, he was the last poster, so he leaves those alone.
On the rare occasions that he runs into another dog in the flesh -- usually behind a fence -- they either start flaming each other loudly, or else instantly indulge in mutual tail-wagging and butt-sniffing. Just like we net-dwellers: when you finally meet that person you've read so many times, you tend to instantly either take to them like old friends, or else hate them and feel like an idiot for ever thinking they might be "okay."
I haven't yet figured out what in our world corresponds to Beast's defecating. When he encounters the drying spoor of rival dogs, he barely pays it any notice. I don't think the turds contain messages... they're JUST TURDS, lacking any other significance. They're like "sigs" with no message preceeding them. Inert, lifeless. Judging by his intense scrutiny of the urine-text, on the other hand, I'd assume that it's got the bandwidth for all manner of descriptive passages, factual information, poetic flights of fancy, etc.
It's all just signifying. That's all we do, dog, man or SubGenius -- we signify. Some signify better than others. Beast is smart, in his dopey doggie way. He doesn't just mark inanimate objects. If he can get close to a car, he posts on the tires. That way his signature is carried far and wide, to other parts of town, there to baffle strange dogs he'll never meet. But he can snooze in satisfaction, knowing that some stuck-up neurotic poodle somewhere in North Dallas is all upset because MeeMaw came home and parked in the garage with her whitewalls bearing a pstench that shouts, "I, "BEAST", KING OF THE DOGS OF THE WHITE ROCK LAKE AREA, GUARDIAN OF THE STANG FAMILY AND THE VAULT OF THE ONE TRUE DOBBSHEAD, HAVE HERE LEFT MY PEE, BEFORE WHICH ALL LESSER DOGS MUST COWER AND WHINE VAINLY!!"
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Original file name: My Dog's Newsgroup
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