I found myself in the unusual position of talking with a geneticist the other week, so I decided to seize the opportunity to ask the question on everyone's lips: how long will it be before we can genetically engineer a talking dog?
Imagine my disillusionment when the geneticist replied to my question along the lines of, "Never. We will never have talking dogs". Actually, she didn't reply along those lines at all; those were her exact words: "Never. We will never have talking dogs".
I think this shows a startling lack of ambition within the geneticist community. If, indeed, geneticists have communities. How are we ever going to engineer talking dogs if they dismiss the very idea as impossible before they've even tried? They need to set the bar higher; reach for the stars. We are human beings, and we don't take impossible for an answer. Splitting the atom was impossible; having a conversation with someone on the other side of the Atlantic was impossible; going to the moon was impossible. But we bloody well did it!
My mum's dog, an incredibly intelligent young cocker spaniel named Molly, can talk. Well, almost. When I turned up at my parents' house on Tuesday, I found they had accidentally bolted the door, so I rang the bell:
"WOOF! WOOF! W O O F !" barked Molly, in her scariest, I'm-a-bloody-huge-dog-so-don't-you-mess-with-me-Mr-Burglar voice.
"Don't be silly, Molly, it's Richard!" I heard my mum say as she came to open the door.
"Yip-yip-yip-yip-yip-yip-yip-yip-yip-yip-yip!!" said Molly, in her here-comes-Richard voice.
If any geneticists out there are interested in engineering a talking dog, and would like a sample of Molly's DNA by way of a major shortcut, please let me know.