The Dog Hair Effect

I am sure that many of you know that the butterfly effect is an illustration offered by Edward Lorenz in an attempt to describe some of the tenants of chaos theory. In essence it asks, “Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?” It is an attempt to show that it is almost impossible to make predictions over long periods of time about complex systems. But as a human who lives with dogs, I sometimes wonder if a better illustration might have been, “Can a dog’s hair affect the human exploration of space?” The answer it would seem is yes!

Many people know that NASA uses Velcro quite extensively in the space program, and many mistakenly credit NASA for having invented it. However, Velcro was invented in 1941 by a Swiss engineer named George de Mestral. Mestral got the idea for Velcro after returning from a hunting trip with his dog and examining under a microscope, the cockleburs that kept sticking to his dog’s hair. I find this quite ironic because one way for Velcro to lose its grip, is to stuff it full of dog hair. This revelation about Velcro has made me think about some other ways in which dog hair has affected our complex world.

Yoga & the Lint Roller
Historically we are told that Hatha Yoga is a system of Yoga documented in the 15th century by Yogi Svatmarama, and can loosely be described as a physical practice in preparation for higher meditation. In reality, I think the practice of this particular form of Yoga is inspired by something a bit more mundane. Watching my wife emerge from a car with a lint roller in hand, and dog hair on clothes, has convinced me of the following:

  1. Yogi Svatmarama lived with dogs.
  2. The invention of the lint roller by Nick McKay of Helmac Products in 1956, was a direct response to some of the more strenuous poses needed to remove dog hair.
  3. To wait in the car for five minutes after my wife has exited to avoid embarrassment.

Modern DNA Techniques
More and more criminals are being caught and convicted not by their own DNA, but by the DNA of their pets via dog and cat hair being left at the scene of crimes. Moral of the story, if you’re a criminal don’t own a pet. Good advice in any age.

Where’s George
I am sure that many of you have received a dollar bill with the “Where’s George” stamp on it. You go to the website, enter the serial number of the bill, the zip code you are in, and you can track where the bill has been. I have often wondered how far my dog has travelled via its hair. I am willing to be that some of my dog’s hair is now resting somewhere in the world he’s never been to; waiting to hitch its next ride to horizons unknown. Furthermore, I believe that when scientists are able to look back at the moment of the Big Bang, the infinitely massive spec of space dust that started it all will contain some percentage of dog fur.

The Vacuum Cleaner Industry
Come on Mr. Dyson, would anybody really pay $600.00 for a vacuum cleaner if they didn’t own pets? Enough said!

I could go on and on but I think you are starting to get the point. So the next time you are cleaning out the lint trap in your dryer, take a moment to thank that ball of fluff for all it has done for you.

Have a great weekend everybody. I will be back with more next week.

Kevin, Jackie, Gavin, Annie, Tosha