An even longer walk

After yesterday’s short drive to try a new walk, today I led my wife and Scully on a walk starting from home, along a route I discovered last year, along Flat Rock Creek. We walked through familiar streets to the point where we entered the walking/cycle path running along the Warringah Freeway. Here the path splits and a branch heads under the freeway and along the creek route, first as a cycle path, and then it turns into a bushwalk track with steep sections, steps, and stepping stones crossing the creek back and forth. My wife had never walked this way before, and really enjoyed it, with the cool forested creek leading out eventually to the green expanse of Tunks Park, where people were out exercising their dogs.

From there, which is almost at sea level, it was a big walk up the hill to Cammeray and Crows Nest, which is at elevation a bit over 100 metres. By the time we got home, Strava had recorded that we’d walked 9.8 km. It took us 2 hours 45 minutes, including a stop at Cammeray to grab and eat some lunch from the Italian bakery there. When we got back home, Scully, who had walked almost all the way, collapsed and slept for most of the rest of the day!

At home I finished writing a new batch of Irregular Webcomic! scripts. And then I started work on slides for the Creative Thinking course I’m starting soon. At least hopefully starting soon. I got one kid enrolled for the one that was scheduled to start today, but I decided it’s going to be much better with at least two students, so I messaged the parent and said I was rescheduling to start next week, to give more time for other students to enrol. So maybe that will start next week.

And tonight I had two sessions of this weeks ethics class on apologising. One of the interesting questions this week has been asking the kids: If a dog gets in someone’s way and they trip and the person yells at the dog, and the dog looks sad and whimpers, is the dog apologising? A small majority of the kids said no, a dog doesn’t know it’s done anything wrong and can’t apologise, while a bit under half of them said that yes a dog can apologise, and what’s more they definitely know when they’ve done something wrong. Which was a very interesting split of opinions that I wasn’t expecting.

Most of the other questions the kids are more generally in agreement on, except for this one: What would the world be like if nobody ever apologised for anything? Most of the kids said it would be terrible, because people would all be angry at each other all the time and nobody would get along. But 3 or 4 of the kids said that it wouldn’t make any difference, because if nobody ever apologised, everyone would be used to people not apologising, and it wouldn’t bother anyone. I asked them what about things like when you accidentally step on someone’s foot on the bus – if you don’t apologise, would they know that it was an accident, that you didn’t do it intentionally? This made most of them rethink their answers, but one kid doubled down and said that obviously that’d be unintentional, so there’s no need to say anything to let them know you didn’t mean it. 🤔

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2 thoughts on “An even longer walk”

  1. Coincidentally, today my mother was telling me about the pet dog of a friend of hers, and how it breaks stuff while she’s not at home, and goes to hide under a couch when she arrives, because on some level, it knows it’s done something “bad” that will upset her.

    Now, I’ve never had a pet dog, and if you asked me at that age, my intuitive answer would have been no, dogs can’t tell “right” from “wrong”, only humans think that way. But if I’d had a dog, then maybe I would have seen that behavior in my pet, and answered yes.

    So I’m wondering if the split was maybe along the line of kids with a pet dog vs. kids who’ve never had one.

  2. the dog can tell that a human is upset, and is trying to comfort that human in any way that it knows works. Puppy eyes are great at diffusing tension. The dog wouldn’t be able to tell you what it did wrong, just that the human is upset. This is why my old dog would sleep on the couch whenever my parents weren’t around, but when they entered the room, he would jump down and pretend he was on the floor the entire time. It worked partially – one time my mother surprised him when he was deep asleep – he growled at her until he woke up properly and got down.
    The logic – don’t upset human, but if human is not around – everything’s free.

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