Setting the bar higher

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.

Richard Carter

A fat, bearded chap with a Charles Darwin fixation.


  1. I also polled my S.O., also a geneticist, and his response was: "I dunno, there's a lot of crazy shit out there." This sparked a lively conversation which ended in me agreeing to lay down the reasons I think we will never have talking dogs.

    1. Though I think as human beings we might have it in our ability to one day engineer a talking dog, there are no political and/or economic incentives massive enough to actually make us try on the scale that we would have to try.
    2. Though some might argue that in say 2-3 million years perhaps dogs (with continued artificial selection by humans) might evolve the ability to talk, I would say that in that case they have ceased to be dogs and have become some other species (heck, 'we' probably won't even be 'we' anymore either).
  2. This is excellent news: in the space of little over a week, we have reduced the likely timescale for a talking dog from 'never' to 2-3 million years. At this rate of progress, we should be chatting with Towser some time this coming Wednesday afternoon (about 2:15pm, by my reckoning).

    Of course, anyone from the UK knows that we have had talking dogs for decades:

  3. Not to nitpick but it appears you did not read my comment. Even if the descendants of dogs can in fact talk in 2-3 million years, they won't be dogs, we won't have genetically engineered them, and we won't even be we.

  4. Oh, I understood what you were saying, but, the way things are moving on ('never' revised to '2-3 million years' in the space of a week), I think I can safely say that talking DOGS will be with US sooner rather than later:

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *