Just a few moments ago I rolled over, looked out the bedroom window, and thought “the sky is aflame… wait, I couldn’t write that because it could be taken in other ways than the sky was lit up by the sunrise in brilliant pinks and oranges holy crap I have to do Mad Genius.” I then jumped out of bed, headed for the office… and tripped over the dog. I managed to catch myself on the book case and keep from taking a header, and I managed to keep the yell inside me so I didn’t wake my still-sleeping husband.
Our dog is not big, but she’s solid. About 60 pounds of all-black muscle on short legs. So when she takes to sleeping stretched across the threshold of the bedroom in the dark, we both stub our toes on her regularly. It’s not her only quirk. The other one (ok, another one – I will spare you most of them) is that she can’t stand for me to be awake and her primary person, my First Reader, to remain asleep. So she will go whine and yip at him until he gets up unless I drag her out of the bedroom. It’s not that we don’t love her, in a way, but argh! she can drive us crazy.
But this got me thinking again about what happens when mankind takes the big leap off this mudball into the stars. Who will go along with us? Pets are a luxury, and an expensive one. If we follow the old patterns of emigration with the tough scouts followed by the hardscrabble miners, and then the farmers foolish enough to take family far from civilization… it’s going to be expensive and luxuries are going to be few and far between, and more likely to be related to personal safety and comfort than having a ‘furbaby.’
Which isn’t to say that animals won’t go along nearly from the beginning. But I see that as more of a working role than a pampered pet. Mice may become the spaceman’s canaries, for instance. I’ve never had mice as pets (they were fox food when my parents were trying to raise Silver Foxes) but they are warm and soft and fun to play with. They are also easier on the ventilation system than birds would be – having spent a couple of years with parakeets in my office (they didn’t make the cut for performing in a magic show. Who would have thought that parakeets are among the few birds who don’t shut up when closed into a dark place?) I am very aware of how much airborne mess even a small bird makes.
I’m working on a book, originally intended to be a short story about a boy and his dog, that was inspired by a friend who travels the Internet as the Basset (beware the Drool). In it, I speculate that dogs did not make the first jump into space, and have become so rare in the colonized galaxy as to be unheard of. There are woolies, which make spectacular fleeces in colors to order. And there are beeves, which more closely resemble massive furry slugs than the hoofed and horned fore-bulls they came from. But there were no dogs… Because, if you think about it, a colonist on a spaceship needs a dog about as much as a hole in his hull. There is no ‘outside’ to walk the furry little monster in. His hairs and dander (even our flat-coated labX produces enough fuzz to make a new dog every week, it seems) will be a serious nuisance in the ventilation system. Now, when that colonist is on-planet, a working dog would be an asset. But until ‘stasis’ boxes or transport of frozen embryos or some such technology comes along, the big livestock guardian dogs like the Maremmas and Great Pyrenees are not going to do well on a space voyage.
I have also written a story in which I speculate that cats don’t make the jump. Admittedly, this was set in the world I started with The Eternity Symbiote, and that wasn’t how I expect mankind to begin their journey to the stars – on an alien ship and leaving Earth in a hurry just ahead of a genocidal crowd. But I know how people are, and young soldiers (of which there are a large percentage in TES) will smuggle along a pet or three. The story I will be releasing soon is set about a century after that exodus, so there are a few animals, but the cat the girl finds is very unusual and it’s no wonder she wants it, after he jumps in her lap, curls up, and starts in with that rusty purr.
I’m not even getting into livestock, and the various other critters I’ve kept (or my kids have) through the years.
What do you think? Who will come along with humanity for that wild ride and why? How will kids manage to conceal and smuggle along that adorable kitten (and you know they will)?
Dogs are useful enough, they’ll have to rectify that omission as soon as there are colonists.
Oh, is that why they’re breeding those naked chickens? And goats can be both pets and useful. Especially if they’ll eat native vegetation and turn it into human drinkable milk.
I’m going to have to add “Pets?” to my list of questions that need to be answered in large long term stations nearby, before we load up in the starships.
I’ve seen chickens with naked necks, but naked chickens? Um…
And I can say with assurance that any animal taken along will become someone’s pet.
Ugly doesn’t even begin to cover it . . .
Oh my word – I’m laughing so hard now. Those are just terrifying!
That’s just cause racism makes you afraid of the new and the different.
Seriously, I wonder if someone who had never seen birds before would have the same reaction.
Bring featherless chickens and hairless cats. And have the aliens wonder why the humans insist on making fabric covers for the cats, which could lead to some amusing inter-species mis-communications about which are humans’ offspring and which are “pets.”
Yes, I can easily picture a hairless cat in fuzzy long winter underwear, tailored to fit…
There are several breeds of hairless dogs, too, including a hairless version of the Rat Terriers. I have two Rat Terriers, love them, but I sure wouldn’t want them without their hair!
Our terrier-poodle mix doesn’t shed either. My gravatar, Fuzzy, earned her name thoroughly. She’s been gone 5 years, and we STILL find Fuzzy-fur in odd corners….
More easy to believe the connection to dinosaurs now.
Pohjalainen … I have a particular question about reindeer, with regard to a story that my daughter and I are developing. Suppose someone rented at great expense, a pair of reindeer, for display at a Christmas event. What antics are those reindeer likely to get up to? How would they behave, or creatively misbehave? What would you suggest, for greatest comic effect?
Just picking your brains, on the shaky supposition that you might have some ideas. After all, I live in Texas, and normally have had very little direct experience with longhorned Texas cattle …but your insights would be appreciated….
There are people in this country who raise reindeer, too. There are a number of herds in Alaska with Eskimo herders (my first college roommate, in Sitka, Alaska, was an Eskimo girl whose father was a reindeer herder near Nome). There are also some raised in the Lower ’48, I think mostly for the type of use you are asking about. Not having much direct experience with reindeer myself, but having observed wild caribou (and eaten a few of them) and raised goats for many years, I would guess that any antics they got up to would be preventable with experienced handlers! (Most of the problems people have with goats are due to their own mistakes.) But nibbling on hats would not be outside the realm of possibility. Mostly, as long as they didn’t get out of their pen, they would spend their time munching hay, observing those who were observing them, and lying down snoozing or chewing their cuds. Mature animals are generally fairly calm.
Hope this helps!
They can be pretty stubborn animals, from what I have been told. How about escape attempts, then trying to either lure them with food – might work – or maybe somebody trying to rope the escapees when nothing else works? Eating somebody’s hair, trying to rub itchy part of head and because they have antlers those antlers also on somebody (since this happens during the Christmas the females would still have antlers). And they can kick when annoyed.
Found a few videos on youtube, perhaps these might give you some ideas:
And the last just because it’s kind of funny, the problems of driving in Lapland (familiar situation to me when I worked there. That guy is swearing a lot…):
A mall where I used to work did that exact thing, with six adult reindeer and a sleigh for Santa. They were fine with pulling the sleigh in laps *outside* the mall, but were deeply, deeply displeased with the whole mall situation, and expressed their displeasure by a head-tossing rush out of their carefully prepped mid-mall enclosure. (Fortunately, before the place actually opened for the day.) The head of the security staff was a retired Marine, and I had the distinct pleasure of watching him headlock one of the deer (dodging antlers the whole time) and bellow “AT EASE!” in its ear.
I think pets in space will depend on the tech level and size of the ship/station but I think once we start making a big push into space, there will be research on how to support pets.
Oh, I agree with the larger and active dogs.
They definitely would need large spaces to run. [Smile]
Oh, can’t remember the author & title but I read a story where it’s mentioned that humans had found out how well cats take to weightlessness.
The cats hated it and found their way to the nearest human to hang onto to the human for dear life (including claws into the human). [Grin]
If they have room for dragons, big dogs will be fine if the dragons will not make meals out them.
Dragons don’t need Starships. [Wink]
As for Dogs and Dragons, Dragons would love to be friends with Dogs but Dogs chose to be friends with Humans. [Dragon Smile]
NASA actually tested that in the runup to Mercury. Test pilot tookup a boxed cat, did the zero-g parabola, and opened box.
Rest of film clip is pilot trying to pull a screaming hairy ski mask off his helmet while outside you see blue/brown/blue/brown/blue/brown…
The way Jerry Pournelle tells the story (http://www.jerrypournelle.com/chaosmanor/long-knives-economy-managing-and-a-feline-factors-space-experiment/), it wasn’t quite an official test…
There are YouTube videos of official experiments, but none I’ve found that matches that description.
I recently wrote a collection of short stories set in the future and on some other planets. Animals were hunted on several of the planets but there were
It occurred to me, after reading your column, that the reason most likely
is that we have not had a dog, or a cat, for years. I am out of the
habit of having animals around and so they disappeared from my science
Earlier I wrote a story about a hunting dog that returns as a ghost.
Not science fiction, however. Partly family tales and nostalgia for an
excellent springer spaniel.
I think as we grow older and want to travel more, pets are not as important as they were when we were very young. I also think that in old age, they become important as companion animals again.
Rats – smarter and more friendly than mice, they even learn their names. They’ll come along for the ride, whether we want them to or not. You are going to take a load of seed to that new planet, right?
Frogs – premier eater of annoying water-based insects, easy to care for, and kids adore them. Keep them in the hydroponics section.
Dad and I were working on a high tunnel (think greenhouse, but plastic and arched) with a aquaponics polyculture in it. We planned to stock the small trial version with feeder goldfish, and then later with catfish or tilapia and possibly prawns in the big version. We also would catch toads and establish them in the high tunnel to help with pest control (we weren’t certified organic but we farmed by sustainable principles). There are a number of really fun ways you can go when stocking a spaceship garden.
And rats might be pretty useful for some things too (and yes they make for fun and cute pets, I have kept them a few times when I was younger):
I’m a pro dog trainer in Real Life[TM]. That’s why my longsuffering MC doesn’t like animals… he grew up on a farm and knows shovelling manure all too well. 😀 Actually, his people (humanoid but not human) rarely keep pets, but there is a dog-analog that fills the same niche as a working animal.
Best Ever use of goats in SF: Rosemary Kirstein’s Steerswoman series.
I know shoveling manure… and my one attempt at formally training a dog involved an Australian Shepherd. When I was struggling with it, this being the first herd-dog I’d been in charge of (I was 16) Mom called in a pro, who worked with her briefly and then commented in an amazed tone ‘That dog is a total spaz. I’ve never met one so hyperactive before.’ and we learned that this dog had the equivalent of ADHD. She never did get fully trained. I can’t even imagine her on a space ship…
Yeah, there is mental illness in dogs too — across the board, 10-20% are just not trainable in any meaningful way, and it’s usually because the dog is wired like a wild animal…. we’ve spent 10,000 years trying to breed out those traits, but they still persist, and readily come to the surface (and they can be very close to the surface indeed in Aussies, a breed with more than its fair share of crazies… consider that its job is not real different from what a wolf does). Unfortunately the modern feelgood “training” techniques tend to select FOR wild animal personalities (selfish and unable to cope with stress… sound familiar??) so we’re seeing more and more of this ADHD behavior in today’s pets. An old-style trainer usually can get somewhere with these dogs, but as Jim Free put it in 1948, “It’s just as easy to love a good one.”
As a partial fix for such a dog to quickly get it to where it’s at least liveable, the best thing is more work, being tied up (not crated or kenneled) alone when it’s not actually working, and limited or no praise, so it becomes used to being restrained, really has to *earn* your regard, and doesn’t get attention just for breathing.
And sometimes the trainer has to be willing to get a little rough, so the dog learns in no uncertain terms who’s in charge and that flailing nonsense gets ’em nowhere. Politically incorrect nowadays, but do you want a good pet in one lasting lesson or a persistent spoiled brat?
yep, the first lesson a dog must learn – especially the yappy little lap types – is who is boss. And it’s not the dog.
Ah Cedar, those yapping lap dogs know who’s boss. They are because if they knew the human was boss, they wouldn’t be so yapping. [Sad Smile]
I’ve always said that little dogs get away with more than larger dogs would. [Frown]
Yep. Caesar Milan (or my dad) would agree wholeheartedly with that point. Dogs do NOT yap, or otherwise misbehave, around the Alpha. (Or “pack leader”, as Caesar “the Dog Whisperer” Milan refers to it) It’s not even a choice, it’s genetic coding. 🙂
I appreciate the advice — and have been proceeding approximately along those lines — with the pup I’m training now. She’s very smart, but very excitable and stubborn, hardest pup I’ve ever tried to train (not including that spaz that Cedar already mentioned — I’d forgotten about her). This one, Poppy, is half Rottweiler, out of a Border Collie X Heeler mother. Both parents are working dogs, good ones, so Poppy is high energy. She has herding instinct (which I don’t need) and has killed at least one chicken. I *think* that if we can get past the wild puppy stage (she’s almost nine months old now) that she’s going to make a very good dog — if I don’t take her out back and shoot her first.
There’s a reason we don’t get a puppy to keep Tricksy company. She was about 2 (just about the time I moved in) when she finally stopped chewing. And she chewed everything, up to and including a wall. That’s not hyperbole… I saw the evidence when I arrived here!
That doesn’t surprise me — Poppy is living on the deck (and the dog pen at the bottom of the deck) and if she could, she’d chew/claw her way through the wall to get in with us. (I’m thankful for metal siding!) I do let her in at least once a day, and take her out on a leash for walks, but she really needs some good runs, and she’s not going to get that until all the chickens are safely penned up where she can’t get at them.
I really debated before getting her, but I don’t know how long we’ll have Cameo — she’s already almost four, probably has hip dysplasia, and the big livestock guardian dogs don’t generally live as long as smaller dogs. I don’t think Mac could deal with the coyotes by himself (a neighbor’s three horses were attacked by a pack of coyotes a few weeks ago right by their house, and wouldn’t leave even though they were shooting at them). So I got Poppy to raise as a backup, so she’ll be ready when Cameo can’t work any more.
BTW the Flat-coated Retriever is an actual breed, and that dog definitely has no Flatcoat in it. And an F1 Lab cross normally has “broken” ears, not full prick ears (which requires the dog be homozygous for upright ears). What I do see in that face is Queensland Heeler.
Well, all I know is her coat is flat – there’s no ‘floof’ under the hairs. She was literally picked up off the street, age unknown but young puppy. My husband wound up with her, and she’s very much his dog – she likes other people, but her world revolves around him. We think she’s half black lab. He has a theory she is a lab crossed with corgi, which would explain the ears and short legs. Also, she’s not keen on water – she will wade, but heaven forbid she get water on her back. One of the funniest things I ever saw was when she fell in the river over her head and got out as fast as she could, highly indignant.
Doesn’t explain the ears, tho — Lab cross just doesn’t get the really stiff upright ears. Corgi and Pit Bull, maybe. But I think more likely Corgi and Heeler. Either could also explain the water aversion. Pretty face, regardless. 🙂
Just about any cross involving one dark-colored parent can make solid black puppies (it need not come from a Lab), tho I see she’s got a little patch of Heeler-type mottling on her chest. If she weren’t solid-colored otherwise, she’d probably be ticked.
“Flat” in dog coats means lacking a hard texture and shine, not “laying flat”. Think of a working setter coat.
Being one person’s dog and tolerating but ignoring the rest of the world is a very desirable working dog trait. You don’t want your sheep handed off to strangers, or your bird brought back to a random passerby, do you? — Such dogs also tend to be very good protection when it’s really needed.
[I also breed old-type working Labs — 14 generations of my own line to date.]
Your explanation makes as much sense as any! Yes, her coat is stiff and when we can withstand the puppy eyes and bathe her, it’s shiny. The only soft bit on her are her ears. Her chest isn’t ticked, it’s white with evidently a bit of mud in that photo!
The one-person-dog trait is also a heeler trait, so you may have something there.
We have a lab/aussie cross who’s now 11 years old. Lab markings, but an Aussie face and ears, with a tail splitting the difference. Her legs are a bit short, but no heeler genes that we can tell. She’s more of a hunter than a herder, but has trained our younger (7.5 years) border collie to let us know (and take the blame) when the older dog has to go out. Both dogs were shelter puppies.
Sara, the lab/aussie is sweet, but does have a lab’s loose sense of what’s appropriate to eat. We have enough acreage that “field indiscretion” can be a disaster, so she’s either on a leash or in the 14 x 21′ kennel when outside. Same for Angie the BC. WWD wrestling matches break out sporadically.
Anybody here read “Cosmic Tales: Adventures In the Solar System” (from Baen).
One of the short stories was “Moon Monkeys” by Wen Spenser.
It was full of the interesting ways that monkeys could get themselves killed in a Moon Base.
Of course, it was in a good cause as Earth Based planners want to make sure that the Moon Base was safe for human babies. [Smile]
I loved that story. I heard her read it at a signing and went out and bought the book. It is wonderful! So funny I was in tears of laughter while she was reading it.
Either dogs or cats will HAVE to come along, because pests will be coming.
Cats are better hunters and better at surviving, but dogs are a lot more versatile– and you can bring frozen semen to get whatever-dog-works-best-for-travel expanded out into a wider variety.
Yes, I once had a dog who was an *excellent* mouser. I think that both will come along in the end, but it will be interesting to see in what forms.
And I found the essay I’d written a while back about a dog who hunted mice. http://cedarwrites.com/hay-day/
Tricksy is a pretty darn good mouser too. We live in an old, not terribly tight house behind a grocery. Before she came to live with me I had a rodent problem. In fact the first thing I did when i got her was police up all the Dcon I had so she wouldn’t get poisoned. Cedar has seen exactly one mouse and one rat since she moved in. The mouse lived on top of the counters and cabinets where the dog couldn’t reach it. The rat came in the window and was dealt with summarily by a dog determined to destroy the invader.
Actually, depending on the dog and it’s upbringing, they can be just as good of hunters as cats. But cats can get into smaller holes than most dogs can. I prefer dogs in the house (easier to keep them off the tables, counter-tops, and so on, and they don’t need a litter box). Though I have a cat and two kittens in the house right now (all male, the adult isn’t related to the kittens). I have little scratches and pin-pricks all over me from being used as a climbing post by the kittens, who are about eleven weeks old. That’s something to think about when it comes to putting cats on a space ship!
What time-frames does one plan for on the new world? Domesticating alien critters may also be an option.
Remember what inspired Pokemon. The guy behind it would go out, look at bugs, maybe capture them, maybe fight them when he was a kid.
Dogs are not going to get “left behind”, if only because we need them to stay sane. Imagine the poor bastard left alone on a sleeper ship, with 99% of the people in hibernation. What keeps them sane, on the long watches?
Not to mention, dogs and cats have a long history of acting as our ancillaries. Who better to task as assistants herding rocks in the sky, than the dogs we’ve been using for herding sheep?
Honestly, I think it’s more likely we’re going to “uplift” them to the point where they’re taking a more active role in things than even now. The same implants that enable humans to interface with the greater noosphere are likely to be repurposed along the way to integrate dogs, cats and other animals into it, if only for practical purposes at first. Imagine the efficiency of a human/dog partnership on the deeper mental levels possible with such a thing, particularly in the arena of search and rescue or other work where the dog/human partnership are already implemented imperfectly.
Dogs have served as our agents/partners since the days we wandered into the savannah from the woodlands. I don’t see that changing any time soon, and I also don’t see us leaving them behind when we go wandering further out.
One story I remember really enjoying, and you just reminded me of it, was the ‘uplifted’ dogs in David Weber’s Armageddon Moon series.
I agree on not being left behind permanently. The stories I have created revolved around what would happen if they were re-introduced to humans after a long period of absence for practical reasons. And I like the idea of a dog herding rocks!
You mean David Weber’s Dahak series. [Wink]
But yes, I enjoyed Tinker Bell’s children. [Smile]
I really don’ t think we’re going to leave them behind for any lengthy period, at all. Too many people take my attitude, which is essentially that if my dog’s aren’t going, I ain’t going either, not on any long-term basis. The psychological benefits are too great, I think, for that to happen.
Thing is, just like we’re not solely “human” in terms of raw biology, socially we’re also not strictly “humans only”, either. An individual human is essentially a colony organism, more akin to a motile coral reef than a solitary discrete organism–Especially considering how intimately we’re integrated with our gut bacteria, now that we’ve gotten past our egos to examine the idea.
Likewise, our commensal fellows in the animal world, particularly dogs, would be better thought of as partners in crime than either “pets” or “slaves”. We’re greater creatures with them than without. And, I don’t think that’s going to suddenly change when we take the first few steps away from the cradle, so to speak. I think it’s far more likely that our partnership with dogs, and other animals, is only going to become deeper and more profound. I am a better person because of my dogs, and if I were the person they seem to think I am, I’d be a damn saint. That’s not something I’m willing to leave behind, and I think there are a lot of folks who think the way I do.
Or your space colony populations select for the the sort of people who don’t have that drive for pets.
I was thinking the same thing. A very smart border collie would have the brains of a five year old child so raising the intelligence up hight enough where they can understand full sentences and execute complex commands wouldn’t be that big a jump in comparison to say rabbits or cats.
I also think, if we are talking zero g environment that they could be modified to have handish paws. Hands would make them more useful and would likely help them move about the ship better than a typical dog. After a long time in space I could see the space dogs separating into their own subspecies. Though I don’t know what that would look like.
That picture is not a boy and his dog. That’s a Korean MRE.
Making pets out of livestock is so ancient that it shows up in Nathan’s confrontation with David. It’s clear from Nathan’s story that the lamb was a full-fledged pet, and from David’s reaction such things were not unknown. Treating young livestock as pets, especially pigs, is common with farm kids. Of course, the “pets” get sent to market, but they’re still pets for a time.
Most likely any pets would be any livestock. Maybe fish – which can be surprisingly pettish – or rabbits. If a colony has room to let larger livestock graze, then you have dogs as work animals.
There’s another possibility: robots. They could start out as robots dedicated to tasks, which someone “adopts” and maybe tweaks the behavior into something a bit more. Asimov had dedicated pet robots in a Boy’s Life story where a boy has bonded with his robodog, and isn’t all that thrilled with receiving an expensive gift: a live puppy. You might have spacers with robot pets ferrying colonists with large livestock and working dogs, and not getting how they could treat a medium sized carnivore as one of the family.
I think that the only thing that stops more livestock from being treated as pets is that they are hard to housebreak….If you live in big tents, like the Bedouin, you could have your favorite mare stabled in one edge of the tent. And peasants used to keep their valuable livestock in a section of the house for safe-keeping. In both situations, livestock are likely to become pets, and also to be bred for temperament conducive to living in such close contact with humans.
I have some very tame chickens running around the yard — when the guys were here helping with the firewood, stacking hay, and so on, they were really surprised as how unafraid of humans my chickens were. It’s because they are very exposed to human activity (and know who brings their food, LOL!).
And goats, etc., if raised on the bottle rather than by their mothers, can be very much pets. I think, if I had more time to spend with him, the pony could very much be a pet, too.
And yet, in all cases, these are functional livestock.
If it looks or acts like that thing from the first Galactica it’s going to be inspecting the fusion reactor.
You could always freeze animal zygotes and grow them at your destination, assuming you have artificial womb technology. That way you could carry all the animals you could need.
Ferrets, as per “The Mote in God’s Eye” are another possible choice, especially if you have a mouse problem. As long as washing them regularly is possible.
You definitely don’t want Moties as pets, though.
Hey now, my two little watchmakers are awesome!
Wait a minute, when did I get four?
*shudder* lol I *loved* that book! It was the first Pournelle book I read…*happy sigh*
I have it from good authority (my dad, the dairyman), who told me while I was growing up, that there was a statistical relationship between the American colonial settlements that survived and thrived and those that had cows. So I’m thinking cows, and the type of agriculture and diet they represent, will be very important.
There’s a school of thought that Homo Sapiens Sapiens’ replacement of the Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons was the Sapiens’ partnership with dogs.
Cats and goldfish are pets, but a dog will herd your sheep, defend your household, and protect your back in the dark places.
I don’t like it. I’d want my dogs along. I’m sitting at my writing desk, with my two large furry friends curled up at my feet. I also have three of my small furry friends curled up at my feet.
I have to be really careful when I move, or I get annoyed meows and barks!