Bear with me, people. It’s another park story.
So I’m walking Dog along a mountain path – she’s off leash, by the way. Yes, there is a sign clearly posted at the entrance of the park with a rule stating, “Pets must remain leashed at all times.”
Right. I’m going to walk in this big mountain park, with jackrabbits galore, with Dog who is part Border Collie, part Lab, and I’m going to keep her leashed? Not bloody likely.
Before you lecture me, Dog is extremely well-behaved, comes to my side whenever I call her, and I always pick up after her. Always. Because I’m not a barbarian.
Anyway, I’m walking along the path, Dog is trotting ahead happily, having just sniffed a rock with great satisfaction, and I am very, very deep in thought. If you must know, I am thinking about the elephant shrew.
Did you know the elephant shrew isn’t actually a shrew? For many years it was believed this little guy developed his elephant-like nose based on his surroundings. But from more recent DNA and protein analysis, we find it’s the elephant part of name that better describes him.
Yep. This little guy and the Elephant share a common ancestor. Fascinating, isn’t it? (Yes, I’m currently reading a book on evolution. For fun. You got a problem with that?)
Back to the walk. Dog and I walk around a large bush and I hear someone say, “Hi!” About 20 feet ahead of me is a man. I return the greeting and prepare to leash Dog before the guy can lecture me about park rules.
Instead, he talks to me as if he knows me. Asks me how I’ve been doing, he hasn’t seen me in a while, that sort of thing. My confusion must have shown as he adds, “Remember? I’m the guy who says your dog reminds me of another dog I know.”
“Oh yeah, right.” (I have absolutely no memory of this.)
“My name’s Ron.” (At least I think he said Ron. It may have been Don. Possibly John.) “I usually run into you over there,” he gestured toward the south entrance of the park, where the leash laws are posted.
“Yes, of course. I remember.” (I don’t remember.)
“I was wondering if you know how Biscuit is doing?”
I stare at him blankly.
“Biscuit is the dog who looks like your dog.”
“Oh, right. Um… I don’t know.”
“They usually walk here a lot, but I haven’t seen them in a long while.”
“Um, yeah. I haven’t seen them.” (We’re standing closer at this point and I see he has blue eyes. More on this later.)
“Last I heard he wasn’t doing well.”
“That’s a shame.”
“Yeah. Poor thing. I hope he’s okay, but I know he was pretty old.”
“Well, I’ll let you go. Have a good rest of your day. Talk to you later.”
“Yeah… you too… um, have a good day.”
Okay, so I’ve given this encounter some thought, as I’m sure you can imagine, and here’s what I’ve come up with:
- It would be easy to dismiss this as a case of mistaken identity. He just confused me with another middle age blonde lady who walks her white dog with distinctive markings at this particular park at this particular time. But I know myself. It’s far more likely I forgot. *head cast down in shame*
- There are people in this world who, when walking in a park, talk to other people. They learn dogs’ names, inquire about their health, and grow concerned when not seeing said dog.
- Evolutionarily-speaking, all humans share a common ancestor – or to be precise, an ancestor with our mitochondria – making us all related in a remarkably close manner.
- Both Ron/Don/John and I have blue eyes. All blue-eyed people share a common ancestor, who may have lived as recently as 10,000 years ago.
- In spite of these evolutionary truths, I see more connection between the tiny elephant shrew and her far larger cousin, than I do between myself and Ron/Don/John.
- I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Extroverts puzzle me. Are we absolutely certain we’re not separate species?