Paws For Thought
EVER WONDERED WHY THE ONLY ANIMAL PEOPLE RUN WITH IS THE DOG?
lisa abdellah is a badass runner in the morning, a freelance journalist by day, and at night she likes to think she’s a wine connoisseur.
HOW MANY STEPS DOES A HAMSTER HAVE TO TAKE PER MINUTE, TO KEEP UP WITH A HUMAN BEING?
DOWN THE AGES, the most influential people in history have contributed to a stringent process of trial and error to select the ideal running companion from the animal kingdom.
First to the pasta party was Charles Darwin: English naturalist, and the chap who came up with the theory that humans are descended from apes. Ironically, Darwin stunted the evolution of one animal in particular when he tried running with his pet hamster, Harry.
At the time, Harry seemed the most obvious choice to Darwin, since the puffy-cheeked pet spent much of his time sprinting frenziedly on a squeaky plastic wheel.
Darwin removed Harry from his wheel and placed him inside a plastic ball (among Darwin’s lesser-known accomplishments is the invention of the hamster ball – shortly after he invented plastic), to which he tied a long piece of string. Then he set the ball down on the floor and tied the other end of the string around his own waist.
“Stop! Think!” Harry pleaded with him. “If the ideal cadence of a human runner is 180 steps per minute, and human legs are 3 500 times longer than a hamster’s, how many steps does a hamster have to take per minute in order to keep up with a human?”
The sad truth? Considerably more steps than a hamster’s legs can handle. As Darwin – not understanding a word Harry had said – began to run, faster and faster, sparks flew from Harry’s tiny paws. Until... boom!
Harry was no more – a tragic victim of poor hamster-human communication.
Same thing happened to French undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau. Took a goldfish in a bowl for a run; all he was left with was an empty bowl and a dead fish.
Ever hear the story of Queen Victoria’s cat, Petunia? The pussy that was partial to parkour?
Queen V was known for holding lavish balls in a grand hall at Buckingham Palace. She would be too busy quaffing Dom Pérignon and telling dirty jokes to notice Petunia teetering along the edge of the buffet table, swinging from the crystal chandelier by one claw, or tumbling gymnastically down V’s velvet curtains.
Until the first (and last) time the Queen took Petunia out for a run. It was three days before a palace groundsman, raking leaves, heard rustling from above. It turned out the fearless feline had dragged Queen V up a tree and left her there!
ONE GIANT LEAP FOR MANKIND
The last famous influencer to attempt a run with any animal other than a dog was space pioneer Neil Armstrong. He had a parrot called Bob. After his moon walk, Armstrong could do no wrong, and so he attempted to make history again – this time, by tying a piece of string around Bob’s ankle and taking him out for a run.
It’s no secret: parrots love to talk. Yap, yap, blah, blah, on and on and on. And they have no qualms about divulging your most embarrassing secrets. Bob was no exception. “NASA faked the whole thing,” he squawked.
“Shut up!” shouted Armstrong. “They filmed it in a cellar.” “Shut up!”
“It was a conspiracy.”
You get the picture. Was anyone really surprised when Armstrong cut his run short, and Bob mysteriously disappeared shortly thereafter?
The celebrity who – finally – discovered that dogs make ideal running companions was Hollywood actor Channing Tatum. Though Tatum by no means invented evolution or walked on the moon, he will go down as the hunkiest man in history – call me, Channing! – after playing a male stripper called Magic Mike in the movie of the same name.
The first time Tatum saw his rescue pitbull mix Lulu, she was on a busy street, barking at random people and chasing her own tail. Lulu was so excited to see Tatum, she bounded up to him and tried to lick him to death. Cue a match made in heaven, and cheesy paparazzi snaps of the A-list duo jogging through New York’s Central Park.
You see, much like Tatum – er, that is, Tatum’s character Magic Mike – dogs are bred to look good, and not for their brains. They need daily exercise, they’re built to run for ages, and they love companionship.
And they’re dumb enough to follow you – wherever you may run.