Karl Marx, Flo, Willy, and Who Gets the Kibble

From left: Karl Marx, Flo, Willy

Marx got everything right about the problem except for the solution. Here’s how it pans out among dogs.

I put two pellets of kibble under each of two glass tea cups, one cup for Flo, one for Willy. Flo noses her cup along all over the kitchen floor and eventually gives up, instead watching Willy work his cup. Maybe he can figure it out for her. And Willy really is more ingenious and enterprising. He tests the cup with his paw, pressing this way and that, and discovers there’s a handle on it that might be useful to him. Eventually he nips the handle and raises the cup. Flo, of course, helps herself to the exposed kibble. Willy turns to the second cup. He’s really the intellectual of the two, as well as the working stiff. This time he presses the handle of the cup with his paw and manages to flip it. Once again Flo gets the kibble. Willy just can’t extricate himself from the teacup quickly enough.

Marx would have Willy turn on Flo — but I know my dogs better than Karl does. Willy’s very fond of Flo, devoted even, and admires her enormously. And there will always be a Flo, don’t you think, one way or the other? The best solution — taking everyone’s interests, long and short term alike, into account — would be for Flo to leave a fair share of kibble behind for Willy. But try explaining that to Flo.

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