021315_Facebush_Packer

Maxine Weber, volunteer and guest blogger, shares her thoughtful and often humorous observations from inside the WDC.

There is a dog version of Facebook. Probably anyone who has taken a dog on a potty walk can figure out where I’m going with this – Facebush. It’s a funny notion, but also one which is pretty amazing when you stop and think about it, which is exactly what I was doing last weekend… I was taking Packer for a walk and thinking about how dogs leave messages for each other. We were walking and suddenly Packer stopped – he got a message from his sister.

“Hey Packer, its Pierce. Just wanted you to know that I stopped by.”

“Cool,” nods Packer. “Good to know”.

Then we went a few more steps and Packer got another message.

“Packer, its. Pinto. I was looking for you. Last night I had the usual chicken kibble for dinner but I also had some cheese, drank some water, played with the tennis balls, and watched TV.”

 “Ok, Bean. Got it,” responded Packer.

He looks at me. “Sisters!” As we continued walking, Packer seemed to be “logged in” to the dog social network in our neighborhood. He has only been to my neighborhood once before. I watch him look around and sniff. I am pretty sure that he recognizes the houses on our street but he also knows the smells. Then Packer stopped. He shoots out a message to our neighbor, Rosie, the Cocker Spaniel next door.

“Hey, Rosie. It’s Packer. Sorry I missed you on this visit. Catch you next time.”

Packer, Pierce, Rosie and Pinto are all on the same canine communication network. Without the advantage of the internet or cell phones, these dogs have managed to provide regular updates to each other – where they’ve been, who they’re with, what they’ve eaten.

They have managed to develop a pretty sophisticated way of communicating. So advanced, in fact, that it captures rich detail-who was there and when, whether they are friend or foe, and probably lots of other details received by their noses that we, as humans, can’t possibly even think about communicating without multiple media formats… let alone with one sniff. The dog can decide whether to “friend” someone and respond to their message, or just keep on walking.

Mark Zuckerberg claims he got the idea for Facebook while a student at Harvard. I think, perhaps, he got it when he was taking his dog for a walk. Dogs see a bush, they “post their message ” and it’s out on the dog version of a social bulletin board for all to see or, er, smell. Ok so maybe their network is not exactly like Facebook but theirs does have its advantages. You will never see embarrassing photos of Packer wearing a lampshade on his head at a St. Patrick’s Day party on Facebush. As for Facebook, well I think we know that is another matter all together.