When a teenage girl saw her dog's life in jeopardy, her protective instincts overrode reason
LOS ANGELES — I recall a teachable moment from my undergrad days. Before class started, our professor appeared grumpy. “Cheer up, Professor Davis,” someone blurted. “It’s a beautiful day! Even the sun loves us, can’t you see it's sunny outside?”
Professor Davis shook his head. “The sun shines not out of love, but out of compulsion. That’s nature’s way!”
This Memorial Day involved three scenarios for illustrating my old professor's point. And each case in point was caught on camera.
The video starts with a mother bear and her cubs walking along the top of a block wall. Three miniature dogs charge head first at this massive bear, though it outweighs them all, combined. Clearly if, say, this brown bear is angered and leaps down, she'll abruptly turn into the "big bad wolf" and the three little dogs become the "three little pigs."
The scene turns even stranger when Hailey Morinico, a 17-year-old, charges toward the massive bear. “I was like, ‘Oh my god, there’s a bear and it is taking my dog. It is lifting it up off the ground,’” Hailey recalls. “In that split second, I decided to push the bear, like it was nothing, apparently."
In other words, Hailey did the very opposite of what reason says she should've done when confronted by a 20-30 times stronger wild animal.
"The very essence of instinct is that it's followed independently of reason," Darwin once said. This explains why Aristotle — thousands of years ago — defined humans as the only "rational animals," or animals capable of reasoning.
When the three miniature dogs charged the mother bear, they did so independently of reason. Indeed, dogs can't be expected to "think before acting" because, well, they can't think! The dogs risked their lives out of compulsion, then, better known as "blind instinct."
The dogs' instinctive reaction is called "blind" because they were incapable of foreseeing the danger ahead.
As for the one dog named Valentina, scooped up by the bear's massive paw, had it not been for her owner's bravery, such behavior "followed independently of reason" was about to prove deadly. The teen instinctively "sprang into action," however, and pushed the bear.
Of course, when asked later if she would do the same thing over again, Hailey spoke with the voice of reason: “I don’t think I would, knowing all the risks and what could’ve happened, I don’t think I’d do it again!”
Fortunately such risky behavior only resulted in a sprained finger.
As for the bear, according to biologist Rebecca Barbazo, she likely saw the dogs as a threat and instinctively protecting her cubs.
Notice a theme here?
In each scenario, instinct overrode reason. But only one of the three parties was capable of exercising reason. Perhaps this explains why the teen, upon reflection, advised: “Do not push bears, do not get close to bears. You do not want to get unlucky! I just happened to come out unscathed."
Wisdom is the fruit of experience indeed. ...
In short, so far as we humans surprisingly share 98.8 percent of our DNA with chimps, unsurprisingly we're still prone to let blind instinct occasionally flare up. Or as Darwin once put it:
With all these exalted powers [reasoning] — Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.