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Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Great Brain Robbery and the Seattle Pee Patch

Photo courtesy of Darwin Bell via Flickr

The neighborhood dogs use my daughter's vegetable garden as a communal toilet. You can't blame them really. The garden is right next to the sidewalk and they are just dogs. I suppose you could blame the dog owners holding the leash. But, are my dog-walking neighbors really that obtuse or are they victims of the parasite on the end of that leash? ; )

See this article called Ten Fascinating Cases of Mind Control for a fascinating compilation of videos documenting how parasites send their genes into the future (procreate) by controlling the minds of other creatures.

Richard Dawkins describes this behavior as an extended phenotype--the parasite can manipulate its host's behavior to help the parasite reproduce.

One video in that link describes how a parasite alters the behavior of rats to actually seek out the company of cats, which tends to get them eaten, thus sending the parasite into the gut of the cat to complete its life-cycle.

An estimated 60 million Americans are infected by this same parasite, which may explain a few things.

My neighbor's cat--with summer hair cut

For more thoughts on this subject read:

Domesticated Dogs--Mutualists or Parasites?

A Lapdog To Go With Your Laptop

This garden has been a lesson in human nature for my kid. I warned her that people would let their dogs crap on her vegetables. She didn't believe me. All summer we watched from our living room window as one neighbor after the other stood there to let their dogs crap in her vegetable garden. Just today I watched another neighbor let both of her dogs take a dump right in the middle of the freshly tilled soil.

A sign asking them to stop would make some of them feel guilty, which would make some of them angry. Most would probably let their dog crap on the garden anyway, possibly after looking around to make sure nobody is watching.

We decided that the best option is to build a picket fence around the garden and to plant far enough from it to avoid over spray.

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