A Genuine Existential Quandary, If You Are a Dog

Before you lay a stick, and a ball. There is a human approaching to take them away from you. You can save only one from the human’s predations. Which will you choose: The stick? Or the ball? And why?

Speculate on which was Charlie’s answer in the comments.

— JS

50 Comments on “A Genuine Existential Quandary, If You Are a Dog”

  1. Stick! Stick is life!

    Have you seen the triptych of Gandalf saying, “I’m not trying to rob you.”

    Then a photo of a dog holding a ball in its mouth.

    And then Gandalf saying, “I’m trying to help you.”

    I love it.

  2. Why is this a problem? Neither are going to throw themselves. C’mon human earn your keep, throw the ball/stick

  3. Kill the human, then you have stick, ball, meat and bones. And quite probably a big chase scene.

  4. I predict it was the stick, having had a stick-loving dog myself. I’m sure it tasted and smelled just a bit more interesting than the ball, and it looks like she may have gnawed on it a bit, which is also very gratifying.
    And she is a marvelous stick-hunter, to be sure, according to other photographic evidence. :)

  5. Kick ball to side, which distracts human. Mmmm. Ball is red. Red ball. Mmmm. Waggle stick in mouth side to side, frightening human. Aaarrrggghhh! Down doggie, down! Gooooddd doggie, gooood. Run away!

  6. The stick. You take it away and she doesn’t get it back. She knows you’ll give her the ball back, take it, give it back, take it, give it back, take it . . .

  7. I’m thinking Charlie would chose the ball because he could scoop it up in his mouth more quickly while then looking longingly at you to throw it. 2. If you fell for that trick, he could then grab the stick and run in the opposite direction with it.

  8. Hahahahha. Foolish hooman. My mouth is like the Tardis. Much bigger on the inside. I will pick up both. Just watch.

  9. You swallow the ball…it contains the secret instructions for controlling humans… and bury the stick in your canine bunker, where no human dares to tread.

  10. The ball. It cost money. Sticks are free. Lose the ball. Look sad. Get Him to buy you another one. Repeat.

    Later, bring all the balls out to be admired. Look cute. Wag tail. Enjoy His exasperation.

  11. You lunge forward and start licking the human’s face with all the love and affection you can muster. They’ll either retreat or give you a tummy rub. Win-win!

  12. [Deleted because off-topic. Reminder that if you’re starting a comment with “Off-topic BUT” you should probably rethink your comment, especially on a site that has as part of its comment policy a general prohibition on off-topic comments –JS]

  13. Depends.

    If the ball is “my ball” and the stick is a found object from the yard, he might well want to save his ball, on the idea that sticks can always be found.

    On the other hand, if he trusts you not to take or destroy the ball, then keeping the stick and letting the ball fend for itself would be the logical maneuver.

    If you are more likely to throw one or the other, and he knows if he brings you that one, he can distract you by making you play with that one and forget about the other one, then that might be the choice.

    It also depends on the nature of the breed – my dogs love to play tug and to play chase, but they don’t run after things you throw, and tend to look at us mournfully if we throw something – “I was playing with that, what’s wrong with you?” – so they would want to keep and play with whichever of the two we decided to play with them with, and would ignore the other one. With a preference for the ball, because sticks in the yard are for peeing on, not playing with.

    That said, I’m guessing stick.

  14. My argle-bargle dog will step forward and try to protect both items, which will not be a ball and a stick, but a brontosaurus and a chameleon. Which he will very much want you to throw for him, as long as you can do that without taking them from him.
    I’m sure Charlie is better behaved and would never do anything like that.

  15. When I read the first part of the sentence, “Before you lay a stick…” I thought about that a moment and finished in my head: “consider how much it will hurt.”

    Be that as it may, the stick is obviously an easier grab-and-run.

  16. The stick because you know you’re not supposed to have it, anyway. And if you take the stick and run away the human will very likely pick up the ball and throw it thinking that will make you drop the stick and run after the ball, but you can keep the stick and run after the ball, which is what you really wanted anyway.

  17. The ball is more for the amusement of the human. Leave it behind and they will surely throw it again, expecting me to fetch it, which is admittedly enjoyable. The stick, however, possesses multiple dimensions of utility and pleasure. It can be used as a human/canine interaction facilitator, like the ball, but it is also a bone substitute, suitable for extended gnawing, burying, and teeth cleaning. You never know when just the right stick will come along, whereas there will always be another ball. This dog will let you have the slimy ball and take the stick away for an extended chew session.

  18. The ball is his and he knows it, so he can get it later, probably. He’s more concerned about the stick, since it’s new and he found it himself, which is something that often leads to items being taken away. TLDR: Stick > Ball.

  19. Stick. It’s always the stick. Whatever you didn’t spend money on, that’s the best toy.

  20. I’ve never had a dog so I’m not even going to speculate. However I do know about cats, and if Charlie were a cat she would leave both of the items, turn around and show you her butthole, and then walk off as if she had never shown any desire to play with either of the items.

  21. Research experiment!
    Stick or ball?

    Charlie does not come when called….
    Or Charlie does not come, when you call. She obeys the other women.

  22. Tater (? – 2020) would pull them both under his belly and lie on them.

    Bill (2021 – ?) will let me take both, then find something else and tease the human with it.

  23. I’m in the “stuff both in her mouth” camp. But then my dog would do that, his record is seven sticks of various sizes carefully arranged to take into acount the triangle of mouth between canines and jaw hinge.

  24. Unsought removal of either the ball or the stick isn’t the only possible outcome. I think with those big, kindly, sad eyes, Charlie might get to keep both after all. “How could you even think about taking that from me?”

  25. If the dog thinks you’re playing, he’ll grab for whichever one you’re reaching for. Then if you go for the other item he’ll drop the first and grab the second.

  26. I’d guess the stick, then second thoughts and drop it and come back for the ball. And then maybe the stick again.

    I know he’s TELLING himself that there are other sticks, but what stick could compare to THIS stick?

  27. When in the course of canine events it becomes necessary – oh, wait – STIIIIIIICK! Must keep STIIIIIICK!

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