Merry Marco

Science, as we know it, could be said to have begun when…wait. You may be wondering what this charming little dog has to do with science. I’m about to explain. Again, science could be said to have begun in the 16th century when natural philosophers started accurately describing the physical properties of…well, everything.

Seriously, everything. Including dogs. In 1570, John Caius wrote De Canibus Britannicis: Of Englishe Dogges, the first real study of dog breeds. Of course, Caius focused almost entirely on describing breeds associated with men and manly pursuits: hunting, fishing, herding, guarding, and all that. But he was earnest enough in his work that he included a few paragraphs on the ‘gentle dogges‘ that, he felt, had no real purpose.

These dogges are litle, pretty, proper, and fyne, and sought for to satisfie the delicatenesse of daintie dames, and wanton womens wills, instrumentes of folly for them to play and dally withall, to tryfle away the treasure of time, to withdraw their mindes from more commendable exercises, and to content their corrupted concupiscences with vaine disport.

I hesitate to think how Sonya would respond to being called a daintie dame, but I’m fairly certain she happily tryfles away the treasure of time with wee Marco. Because he was writing four and a half centuries ago, we can forgive Caius for being dead wrong about these dogs; they perform a critically important service. They bring love and joy.  And personally, if you have a gentle dogge nearby, I can’t think of a more commendable exercise than to play and dally withall.


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