If All Youâ€™ve Got is a Hammerâ€¦
I’ve appreciated that truism (source UNK) as it applies to certain myopic political and behavioral stances one encounters far too often these days. But I digress. In the current use, it is the dog to whom I refer.
And in this case, her hammer is the mouth. And everything in space is a nail. She chews, therefore she is. Masticatibus ergo sum.
I’m thinking of buying stock in Band-Aids, and wondering: Do they make Kevlar upholstery?
Human babies are mouth oriented, too, bringing most any little item off the floor instantly to their mouths to taste, feel, connect with. There’s a reason for this: the human brain–and maybe especially the infant brain–is disproportionately well devoted to the body parts with the highest density of receptors.
This distorted “map” of the body’s sensation-fields is captured by a grotesque depiction call the “sensory and motor humunculus” depicted in the image. The first time I ever saw this thing in a biology class, it gave me bad dreams for a week.
As you can see, the sensory homunculus has extremely large lips, tongue and hands. These body parts get more brain area than the proportionately much larger torso. In real life, imagine a grain of sand placed on your back (you would not know it) versus one placed on your tongue (there would be no missing it.) Our early feelings come from sucking, mouthing, tasting, chewing.
So much moreso must be the case for a baby dog, whose sensory homunculus I try to imagine (unable to find that anyone has studied this to give us a picture).Â I imagine it to show an enormous mouth, especially the gums-with-teeth, to the exclusion of practically every other body part. The arms and legs appear as vestigial tiny twigs sticking off far below the gargantuan biting machinery.
I try to accept that, while those dagger-teeth are painful and inconvenient to us humans, they are not weapons from the puppy’s point of view. They just draw blood before the object of interest (an index finger, for instance) can be fully grokked.
On the other hand, I have to question evolutionary behavior that requires objects potentially harmful to be picked up, swished around the palette and swallowed. (Doggie Maxim: It was there, so I ate it.) True, you don’t find the woods littered with the carcasses of baby canids who have swallowed gravel, pocket change, twisties and dryer papers (yes, all extracted from Gandy’s mouth at great risk to digits.) Tsuga’s favorite to crunch into pieces and swallow was walnuts. Can you believe it!? He survived that, and died eating dog food too fast.
So I am trying to understand what motivates Miss JawsOnPaws to do what she does. I’m trying to not take it personally that my hands look like I’ve been wearing gloves knitted out of multiflora rose canes. And I have this growing concern that I will wake suddenly in a cold sweat, with night terrors of being pursued by an animated colossal canine homunculus. Thank goodness I can outrun it, because it’s legs are so ridiculously small!