Though homo sapiens is the dominant species on planet earth, for the last dozen millenia humans we have tried mightily — and failed manifestly — to rid ourselves of another species: rattus rattus, the common rat. A small, seemingly insignificant creature, rats have refused to bend to our will. Instead, they have proven very skillful at accommodating themselves to our lifestyle.
We have domesticated these animals. We did it unintentionally and we don’t like to admit it, but the fact remains. Rats make their homes in our untended spaces and eat our cast-off food. And the relationship is reciprocal. We give rats food and shelter. In exchange they give us disease, nuisance, property damage and a generally skeevy feeling when we come face to face with them.
The trouble with getting rid rats is their very domestication. They live where we live, and that means we share the same ecosystem. That means anything we do to it, we do to ourselves. Thankfully, the elegant and natural solution to an unintentionally domesticated animal is an intentionally domesticated animal: Canis lupus familiaris.
Which is to say, dogs. Doggos. Hounds. Good boys/girls. Poochen. Puppehz. When you solve your rat situation with a dog, instead of laying poison suddenly you’re drowning in affection, tail-wags and other generalized adorability. It’s a pretty serious upgrade.
Using dogs to control rat populations isn’t a new solution. Humans have been using dogs to fix their vermin problems for thousands of years. The only reason we can use dogs to do this today is because generation after generation of our ancestors worked to breed certain dogs specifically for their rat-hunting qualities. Certain breeds of dogs, such as terriers and pinschers are literally born to do this work. All they’ve been waiting for is someone to train them correctly and put them in a target-rich environment. Which, if they live in New York City, is probably right outside their door.
Letting our faithful companions fulfill their natural instincts means that even in a modern, urban environment, they can fulfill their natural purpose. And help out some humans while they’re at it.
ABOUT THE HUMAN The business combines several passions: love of dogs, study of dog training techniques, a fascination with the natural world, and a commitment to reducing the toxic load on our environment. Bringing these ancient skills and ideals to the modern world has been an incredibly satisfying journey.