My friends have a lot of weird conversations in our group chat. One semi-recent discussion began with the question “are fritattas gay?” Another morning I woke up to discover nearly a hundred messages stemming from a 2017 study that correlated an individuals sexual preferences and their political leanings. Of all the weird discussions we’ve had, the most divisive and longest running is The Dog-Man Question.
Would you rather date:
- A regular man, ordinary in every way, but get this: he has the head of a dog.
- A regular man, ordinary in every way, but get this: he has the arms and legs of a dog.
- A regular man, ordinary in every way, but get this: he has the brain of a dog.
The first messages following the poll questioned the premise and asked for clarifying details. The vast variety of dog breeds could sway people’s opinion, so it was decided all three options should be evaluated from the baseline of a labrador. The man with a dog head is the easiest option to understand, similar to the photos and videos artist William Wegman is known for. He cannot use his dog mouth to speak but can communicate using ASL or by writing notes. Dog arms and legs required the most clarification. A man with dog arms and legs does not walk on all fours, but stands on two legs and shakes your hand with his paw, like a gentleman. The lack of human hands was a dealbreaker for some members, who were told to “be the pickle jar opener in their own life,” by the group members who chose this option. The arbiter of the question—herself on team arms and legs—made a helpful drawing, which provoked an intense flurry of messages between the most passionate people on the “dog arms and legs” and “dog brain” sides.
Finally, because the man with a dog brain has the brain of a dog, he is incapable of human speech but can communicate using a soundboard like the ones used in an animal cognition study by scientists at UC San Diego.
After all the clarification, our group of nine was evenly split. Our passions stoked, we did the most logical thing: poll our friends and family so that our teams would win, which continues to this day. While it’s admittedly not the most scientific method, neither is creating a human-dog amalgam to date. This is where the question gets most intriguing to me, because 1) no one who has answered this question has changed their answer after making a decision, and 2) the vote always moves toward balance, no matter how many people we ask.
That’s not to say there aren’t outliers. The formula of the question means people try to create their own options. One interviewee said he thought he’d want a human with a dog’s heart. These other answers are appreciated, but ultimately interviewees are forced to pick one of the options as the three sides strive for supremacy. The worst answer is the one that goes “I wouldn’t pick any of them because as a man I wouldn’t date a man.” These men are too worried about protecting their own masculinity to engage with a nonsense question. None of the dog men actually exist. They will never have to actually date any of them.
The question has not been resolved and likely never will. If the conversation dies down, soon someone will chime in with “my coworker chose dog head” or “the guy I’ve been seeing said arms and legs.” It’s a good question to ask to get to know someone; there’s always reasoning behind their answer, and it’s a great source of memes and poking fun at each other. And though some of my friends refuse to see that a man with a dog’s head is the correct answer, I will keep campaigning for it, and they will do the same with their choices. It’s the only way we might someday be able to win.
Image credit: Patrick J. Cashin / Metropolitan Transportation Authority licensed under Attribution (CC BY 2.0)