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Circa 2020

About the Animals

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Dear Humans of 3020 AD,

I wonder how a story like this might read in your time.

The boy, whose ordeal mirrors that of the character Mowgli from Rudyard Kipling The Jungle Book, was discovered by police in Misiones, in Argentina, surrounded by eight wild cats.

Doctors believe the animals snuggled up with him during freezing nights which would otherwise have killed him.

The boy was seen eating scraps foraged by the animals while they licked him, it has been claimed.

Policewoman Alicia Lorena Lindgvist discovered the child by a canal in the Christ King district of the city.

She said: "I was walking and noticed a gang of cats sitting very close together. It is unusual to see so many like that so I went for a closer look and that's where I saw him. The boy was lying at the bottom of a gutter. There were all these cats on top of him licking him because he was really dirty.

"When I walked over they became really protective and spat at me. They were keeping the boy warm while he slept."

Police have found the boy's father who is homeless and said he had lost the boy several days ago while out collecting cardboard to sell. He told officers cats had always been protective of his son.
In our day, the symbiotic relationship between humans and certain domesticated animals--cats and dogs mostly--are enough part of the fabric of our lives that an event like this, while self-evidently newsworthy, raises our eyebrows (will that term have survived to your time?) only a little.

We recognize in it the life-affirming triumph, but have personally experienced the human/domesticated animal dynamic throughout our lives; enough so that we accept the connections at their core with little question.

It has taken all of human history for man to engineer wild cats into today's foofy playthings, and the descendants of wolves to the point certain man-made breeds like this cause us at best a chuckle.

**

What might they look like in your day? What changes might you have made to the way they think? Assuming either have survived the past thousand years, do you even have wild cats, dogs and streets?

Do little boys still wander off in your world, to be found days later in your equivalent of a gutter, tended by them?

If so, are your cats more likely to eat said child or, if you have given them the wherewithal, to simply communicate his whereabouts to you? Would the event in this news story even be news?

I'll tell you one thing I hope you have not lost. I hope you have not lost the bond we in our time have with "our" animals. Perhaps the arguably involuntary servitude in which he hold them is abhorrent to you--it is not difficult for us to make that leap, even today.

But in our time, we generally believe humans provide our animals rich lives full of love, security and sustenance. And in return, they give us what we interpret as unconditional love--in our time, and one hopes in yours, still the single greatest gift one living being can offer another.

*

Related reading

Evolution of the Cat
Evolution of the Family Dog
Cat vs. Dog Evolution
Dogs May Laugh, but Only Cats Get the Joke



Updated 01-09-09 at 01:07 PM by Om

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  1. Boone's Avatar
    While we share bonds with some animals, I can't help but wonder if a more advanced version of homo sapiens wouldn't find the brutality we treat other species with a little unsettling? Lets face it, we put animals in pens, force feed them, skin them, slice n' dice them, grind up their bones and hooves, and commit other unspeakable atrocities on a continuous basis, all sanctioned by the majority.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm comfortable with the food chain, but I think most of us readily recognize the somewhat bizarre and irrational distinctions we almost effortlessly make between animals we 'love' and animals we 'use'.

    Will humans (again, assuming we're still around and haven't returned to caves or trees) 1000 or 3000 years from now find our current perspective beyond comprehension? Or will they simply have taken the use of animals to a higher level (genetically perfected protein sources, perhaps engineered with a primitive brain incapable of even pain impulses that grow in factories at 1000 times the rate of current meat sources)? Who knows. It's an interesting set of questions. And what will be the impact of 3000 years of close proximity to humans on domestic animals? Would we see super-intelligent versions of felines or dogs for example? Will we, as you referenced, have developed technology allowing us not just to understand our pets through body language and interpreting the noises they make, but to actually 'talk' to animals. And if that technology does exist, will we move from 'using' animals to granting them some of the rights humans have established for their species?

    A related question is, what will the evolutionary changes of those animals look like - what will WE look like if we don't destroy ourselves or suffer some other species-ending calamity in our near future?
  2. Meteor's Avatar
    While you're communicating with the future, my wife would like to know if they've engineered any dogs that don't shed?
  3. Om's Avatar
    Boone, definitely another worthy topic of conversation there. The distinction between our relationships with our "pets" and the rest of the animal kingdom we either eat, ogle or ignore is a very clear one.

    My guess is as time goes by we'll move away from raising food stock and toward synthetics, as you said. And we'll probably continue to expand the list of animals we "protect" (today condors, tomorrow buzzards?). Whether or not we ever treat all life as sacred (ants, pigeons, slugs, Eagles fans) remains to be seen ... and is actually a question I suspect will be amusing--one way or another--to our descendants 1000 years from now.
  4. Om's Avatar
    Meteor, if they're really on the ball, they'll engineer a process by which "our" dogs' shed hair can be synthesized into a suitable replacement for our balding heads.
  5. Boone's Avatar
    And please forgive me if I took the topic at hand off course. Take it as a compliment - the whole question of how man's relationship with animals in the future is fascinating. I wish someone would write a history of the relationship between man and our Earthy cohabitants....it would be an amazing read....
  6. Om's Avatar
    Didn't mean to sound as if you needed to apologize for that. Was just acknowledging it was a topic more than worthy of discussion, either here or on its own.

    Maybe you and I should conspire to write that book, my friend. In all our spare time.
  7. Boone's Avatar
    You didn't 'sound' any way in particular Just thought I might have distracted from your original point (focused on the amazing relationship man has with what we call 'pets')

    The interesting thing is, that a book like that would be very difficult to write given that written human history only gives us tiny tidbits from which to judge what those relationships looked like 1000 years ago. Kind of validates what you're trying to do with your blog, don't you think?
  8. Om's Avatar
    It would be mostly theory, that much is certain. Even if we had "records" left behind by early humans, we would have to view them through the same filters we view all ancient human records, with so few humans being able to read or write at all, and at that almost exclusively the very wealthy or the clergy.

    One thing about our time--we're leaving one hell of a broad, detailed record of who and what we are. For better or worse.
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