Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Canines and Capitalism

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Canines and Capitalism

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I know from my own experiences with my beloved Shih Tzu who recently passed that he was a great respecter of private property. He took great interest and sometimes anguish if someone moved his bed or his cage or his water bottle, and he took quick action to protect his snacks. While my dog never had to shop for his food, I was however quite happy to find these stories of these dogs that recognized a market economy:

From The Spectator
During the meeting of the British Association at Glasgow, a friend of mine had occasion to go one day from that place to Greenock on business. Hearing, on his arrival, that the person he wished to see was out, but expected shortly to return home, he determined to take a stroll about the town, to which he was a stranger. In the course of his walk he turned into a baker's shop and bought a bun. As he stood at the door of the shop eating his bun, a large dog came up to him and begged for a share, which he got, and seemed to enjoy, coming back for piece after piece. "Does the dog belong to you?" my friend asked of the shop-woman. "No," she answered, "but he spends most of his time here, and begs halfpennies from the people who pass." "Halfpennies! What good can they be to him?" "Oh, he knows very well what to do with them; he comes into the shop and buys cakes."

This seemed rather a remarkable instance of cleverness even for the cleverest of animals, so, by way of testing its reality, my friend went out of the shop into the street, where he was immediately accosted by the dog, who begged for something with all the eloquence of which a dog is capable. He offered him a halfpenny, and was rather surprised to see him accept it readily, and walk, with the air of a regular customer, into the shop, where he put his forepaws on the counter, and held out the halfpenny towards the attendant. The young woman produced a bun, but that did not suit the dog, and he held his money fast. "Ah," she said, "I know what he wants," and took down from a shelf a plate of shortbread. This was right; the dog paid his halfpenny, took his shortbread, and ate it with decorous satisfaction. When he had quite finished he left the shop, and my friend, much amused, followed him, and when he again begged found another halfpenny for him, and saw the whole process gone through a second time.

This dog clearly had learned by some means the use of money, and not merely that it would buy something to eat, but that it would buy several things, among which he could exercise a right of choice. What is perhaps most remarkable is that his proceedings were entirely independent, and for his own benefit, not that of any teacher or master.
A. L. W. [Feb. 17, 1877.]

See also Capitalism in America - 100 Books on DVDrom (Captains of Industry)

When a student at Edinburgh, I enjoyed the friendship of a brown retriever, who belonged to a fishmonger in Lothion Street, and who was certainly the cleverest dog I have ever met with. He was a cleverer dog than the one described by "A. L. W." because he knew the relative value of certain coins. In the morning he was generally to be seen seated on the step of the fishmonger's shop-door, waiting for some of his many friends to give him a copper. When he had got one, he trotted away to a baker's shop a few doors off, and dropped the coin on the counter. If I remember rightly (it is twelve or fifteen years ago), his weakness was "soda scones." If he dropped a halfpenny on the counter he was contented with one scone, but if he had given a penny he expected two, and would wait for the second, after he had eaten the first, until he got it. That he knew exactly when he was entitled to one scone only, and when he ought to get two, is certain, for I tried him often.
Lawson Tait. [Feb. 17, 1877.]

In the Spectator of the 10th inst. a correspondent describes the purchase of cakes by a clever dog at Greenock. I should like to be allowed to help preserve the memory of a most worthy dog-friend of my youth, well remembered by many now living who knew Greenwich Hospital some thirty or five-and-thirty years ago.
At that time there lived there a dog-pensioner called Hardy, a large brown Irish retriever. He was so named by Sir Thomas Hardy, when Governor (Nelson's Hardy), who at the same time constituted him a pensioner, at the rate of one penny per diem, for that he had one day saved a life from drowning just opposite the hospital. Till that time he was a poor stranger and vagrant dog—friendless. But thenceforward he lived in the hospital, and spent his pension himself at the butcher's shop, as he did also many another coin given to him by numerous friends. Many is the halfpenny which, as a child, I gave Hardy, that I might see him buy his own meat—which he did with judgment, and a due regard to value. When a penny was given to him, he would, on arriving at the shop, place it on the counter and rest his nose or paw upon it until he received two halfpennyworths, nor would any persuasion induce him to give up the coin for the usual smaller allowance. I was a young child at the time, but I had a great veneration for Hardy, and remember him well, but lest my juvenile memory might have been in fault, I have, before writing this letter, compared my recollections with those of my elders, who, as grown people, knew Hardy for many years, and confirm all the above facts. There, indeed, was the right dog in the right place. Peace to his shade!
J. D. C. [Feb. 7, 1885.]

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