A collection of creatures that prove that you don't have to be human to serve society.
As you contemplate your navel, your flaccid body splayed out along the edge of the sofa, take a slow look around the living room and allow yourself some small comfort in your pet, surely the laziest member of the household - even lazier than you, maybe. Look at him sleeping over there – no responsibility, not a care in the world. No job. Recent studies have shown that 90 percent of pets are lazy as hell, just taking up space and eating your food. But do they feel fulfilled? Can they really be happy with this lethargic lifestyle?
Maybe it’s time to re-think your strategy, as far as this whole job thing goes. Instead of pursuing your own professional dreams, think of little Fifi, life ticking by in dog years, who could be out there in the real world making an honest living. So the next time you catch your lil’ buddy napping, pull him up to the computer screen, and inspire him with this list of hard-working animals on the hustle.
Dogs have over 300 million smell receptors in those furry snouts of theirs—a lot more than the paltry six million us humans are packing. It’s estimated their sense of smell is at least 10,000 times more powerful than our own. Man’s best friend continues to live up to his nickname by sniffing out tumors in humans, detecting tiny traces of the compounds that indicate the presence of cancer. Preliminary studies, which some scientists say should be taken with a grain of salt, have shown an astounding success rate of between 70 and 99 percent in detecting lung cancer. Dogs have already been successfully employed to detect bladder and skin cancers, and are reportedly extremely adept at locating half-eaten sandwiches in people’s coat pockets.
At the height of the Cold War arms race, two world superpowers, keenly aware of the other’s clandestine efforts, established rival weapons programs, transforming the slippery dolphin, clown of the sea, into the ultimate killing machine. I’m talking, of course, about Operation: Cetacean. OK fine, ‘ultimate killing machine’ might be a bit of a stretch, but both the United States and the Soviet Union trained dolphins to find wayward swimmers, detect mines, and guide ships through perilous waters. While rumors persist that the American program included dolphins trained to lay mines and attack enemy vessels, the Soviet scheme definitely did, and in 2000, at least four of these animals, taught to set upon enemy frogmen and make kamikaze strikes, were sold to Iran. Recently, the Russian takeover of Crimea’s national assets has included repossession of the remnants of their former dolphin program, which they plan to reactivate.
Have you ever come home from a long, exhausting day at work and just collapsed on your bed, thinking to yourself: I’d give anything to have a bunch of cold, scaly snakes crawling all over my body right now? If so, snake massage might be the therapeutic relaxation product for you. These industrious reptiles will slither their way into your heart by way of your trapezius muscles, constricting your stress levels, and asphyxiating your woes. While some spas that offer the treatment feature a smorgasbord of non-venomous serpents, other practitioners insist that the only option is pythons with their mouths taped shut, presumably to keep them from seducing you with the temptations of forbidden knowledge. While snake massage is a relatively new technique, programs have already sprung up in Israel, Indonesia, Russia, and Thailand.
Four out of five movies that involve monkeys working for humans end in disaster, with the clever apes throwing off the shackles of their cruel oppressors, and teaching us some kind of lesson about ourselves, because when you think about it, we’re the real animals, and so on. So while the Japanese restaurants that employ these adorable, scampering macaques may think they’re saving money on payroll, they should consider that while they may be keeping a young, impressionable monkey off the street, they’re also flirting with disaster. And when these busy little guys get tired of fetching cold beers and hot towels and start chanting “One big union!” at your customers during happy hour, for god’s sake, give them that extra banana-per-hour wage increase, before you find yourself on a beach, pounding at the sand as the waves crash around you, screaming “goddamn you all to hell” at the silent ruins of the world you once knew.
Maggots, which you may remember from that one nightmare you kept waking up from in a sweaty, fevered panic, are writhing, limbless little monsters that eat rotting flesh, and eventually turn into various types of flies. Turns out doctors are putting these guys to work in the exciting field of eating your body. Large wounds that won’t heal easily require debridement, or the trimming of dead tissue with enzymes or a scalpel. Maggot therapy offers a unique alternative, by having insect larva secrete chemicals that melt the dead matter into a liquid that the maggots can then digest. Some early research has shown that maggots have an antibacterial effect, and clear out more of the tissue than traditional methods. Other studies have pointed out that the treatment causes “moderate to severe pain.” Still others report that maggot therapy is “totally gross,” “absolutely disgusting,” and “an affront to the very laws of god and man.”
Navy Patrol Sea Lion
For years, the United States Navy Marine Mammal Program has been teaching sea lions to attack and handcuff (!) enemy divers, as well as to identify underwater explosive devices. The top-secret program, which began back in the early 60’s, was ramped up along with our entanglement in Vietnam, as the situation worsened and the need for weaponized seals increased exponentially. While these floppy fellows may seem more suited to balancing balls on their noses and catching tossed mackerel, I wouldn’t want to run into one in a dark alley—an adult male sea lion is 8 feet long and weighs almost 700 pounds. Though these barking guardians have been faithfully guarding our coastal boarders for 50 years, it seems even semi-aquatic mammals aren’t immune to the encroaching effects of automation: the program is being phased out, with an underwater drone program coming in to replace it by 2017.
Mowing your lawn can be tiring and time-consuming. If you’re not too careful, you could even break a sweat. Enter: the goat. Don’t let their satanic reputation and rectangular pupils unnerve you; these friendly caprines will cut your grass so neatly you can play billiards on it. While goats eating weeds is nothing new, the last few years have seen a resurgence of goat mowing, both among hipsters and municipalities trying to save money and adopt environmentally friendly policies. So sit back, sip your strawberry lemonade, and let the goats do their masticating. And if you somehow don’t already have a goat, good news: goat mowing’s comeback has brought with it a number of new goats-for-hire services.
Just kidding. You can’t train cats to do anything.