Rob's Blog Archive

August 7, 2011

Great Times to Think: Scooping the Dogyard










Colin Fletcher, the godfather of backpacking, wrote “I find that the three truly great times for thinking thoughts are when I’m standing in the shower, sitting on the john, or walking. And the greatest of these, by far, is walking.”

Add one more to the list, scooping the dogyard. It’s not as much fun as walking or even sitting on the john or standing in the shower, but while the others may be more pleasurable than cleaning dog shit, the latter is more productive. From essays to insights to gestalts, I’ve had more per hour scooping than any of the other acts. I even know why.

Scooping is fundamentally a simple act. This allows me to ponder the world in the first place. I also benefit from it’s being outdoors. These help, but what actually makes this as fruitful as it is is a Jungian collective unconscious interaction between me and the dogs. While doing the other acts, I am alone. In the dogyard, I am in communication with 22 other brains. And while they are presumably less capable than mine, that number more than compensates. It’s like supercomputers that are based on sets of run of the mill PC microprocessors. With the extra brains, the collective intelligence acts like intellectual rocket fuel.

The next question is: Why does scooping work as a source of deep thoughts, but feeding and running the dogs don’t? The answer is that in the canine mind, there is a direct connection between the collective unconscious that generates the Jungian link and their shit. Food, sled runs, and other items do catch a dog’s attention but they engage the consciousness of the animal. Shit engages the canine unconscious.

Of course, it’s not simply my dogs that have to have the correct part of their minds engaged. I have to be open to the process as well. People who have aesthetic issues with yard scooping are deprived the additional brain power the kennel provides. Fortunately, I have no such aversions.

And the dogs do have to actually contribute something to this process. Jungian collective intelligence explains why friends with kennels of Golden Retrievers do not have a similar reaction while scooping their yards, but friends with kennels of Australian Shepherds do. The corollary to this is that the effect is particularly profound for some mushers. For these people, the effect may even be there for them scooping a kennel of Goldens.

This reality and its realization has had a profound effect on my life. Whereas I used to go for walks to contemplate serious questions like what is the mass of the Higgs Boson, whether or not neutrinos oscillate (oops, that one is answered), and whether or not I actually have a shot at getting in bed with the young lady I had been lusting after for the previous two weeks, I currently ponder these while scooping the dog yard. Now if I could only understand why every time I contemplate these things, the dogs are laughing hysterically, I’d be set.

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