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Maree’s musings

June 18, 2019 June 2019, Regular Features No Comments

IS THERE A ROBOT FOR THAT?

Recently I’ve been able to get back to my customary daily walks after a period of enforced inactivity (a warning to my readers: avoid coming down with sciatica – it’s ghastly!). The return to exercise is bringing me much joy. There’s nothing like getting out on a glorious Martinborough morning and getting some exercise too. One such occasion recently – a Saturday – I came across about half a dozen others doing just that: we exchanged the usual greeting (“Cracker day!”) and continued on our ways. 

However, for me, there was a little heartbeat of sadness: the others were all accompanied by a dog or two. After 40 odd years, I no longer own one, and the walk got me thinking. Maybe I could invest in a toy one? Not a ‘toy breed’ as such, but an artificial one. A ‘robodog’! I confess the remainder of my walk that day passed in a thought blur as I mused on how that could happen. Modern society is awash with labour-saving technology; from relatively simple things like the pop-up toaster to automatic garage doors and so on; and there are robots slaving away in sometimes surprising environments. So why not a robot dog?

Later, I googled (smartphone – there we go again) ‘robot’ and discovered it derives from the Slavic word robota which means work. Of course that word was not part of my Whippet’s vocabulary ( they’re the laziest breeds on the planet), but she did have her uses. Not many, I must confess. Dogs are a great conversation opener for a start, and naturally a robot version would work superbly with that, but without the drawbacks associated with the usual living model. For starters, there could still be the motivation for exercise, which might need working on initially. To help with that, however, there’s the thought of controlling your (and ‘her’) pace and without having to stop every metre or so for a sniff or a pee. No racing up to other dogs, attempting to chase cats or chooks or absolutely HAVING to eat that discarded pie-crust while almost dislocating your own shoulder into the bargain. And no need to incorporate a ‘motion’ while in motion if you get my drift.

Rose was useful at home too. She used to love me with her eyes (when she was awake – see above) and snuggle up on the couch of an evening or more accurately almost all the time. Though why she used up so much room leaving me squashed up at one end, and with her head in my tv dinner, remains a mystery, even now. Dogs need feeding, keeping warm, company and even some intellectual stimulation. (I read that somewhere.) A biggie for me would be the freedom associated with a spontaneous holiday. Robodog could simply be curled up in her habit spot and switched off. (Note to the two cats still at home: I’m looking at you!) I’m sure the techxperts who make robots could add attractive features such as non-shedding fur, velvety ears and even a wagging tail if you wanted.

Our environment is heading towards crisis, with consumption, waste and carbon emissions escalating out of control. This worries me. I’m desperate to do my bit and maybe a little robodog could help. No feeding expenses, vets’ bills, the occasional fart and so on; but instead, she could be programmed to pick up litter and maybe even have a proper ‘digestive’ function to save disposal deposits out the other end. Perfect!  

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