Jonathan Cutrell

The Dog Ate the Toast Again.


Our family dog, Evie, ate my daughter's toast off of the table. This is a common occurrence - she will take whatever scraps she can get, despite risking the verbal assault that may follow.

This last occurrence triggered a thought for me, after a quick conversation with my wife.

"It's not the dog's fault." I said this without thinking too much about it. In this post I'm going to follow the chain of "fault-finding" as an exercise in understanding that finding fault is, mostly, an exercise in vanity and subjectivity.

It's the dog's fault. The dog is ultimately responsible for her actions.

It's not the dog's fault, it's the children's fault for leaving the toast out. The dog does not understand anything other than "toast, good."

It's not the children's fault, it's actually our fault, because we haven't adequately taught the children to not leave the toast on the table. We also haven't adequately trained the dog to not eat people food.

It's not actually our fault, we haven't had sufficient incentive or available resources to train the dog, which is the fault of the dog trainers who haven't chosen to provide an accessible service.

It's not the dog trainers' fault, it's our fault for living in an area where dog trainers aren't readily accessible... or maybe it's the fault of the local market, which has not created sufficient demand for dog trainers.

Or maybe it's back to our fault for living in an area that doesn't create the demand for dog trainers.

Or maybe it's the fault of the economic paradigm we live under, which requires volume of demand in order to justify a given service availability to capitalize sufficiently to make a profit.

Then maybe it's the fault of the systems that perpetuate the capitalist society... those who are in positions of power to perpetuate the economic system that benefits them.

Or maybe it's the fault of the policies that allow for that system to be capitalized on in the first place... the politicians.

Then maybe it's the fault of the voters. But that gets into a vicious cycle where it's the politicians' fault again, since they are manipulating their voters or the voting systems with gerrymandering, propaganda, or echo chambers.

Then we should blame the politicians' parents, as they did not instill in their children values to guard against these manipulative practices.

But perhaps that was a product of their environment - the silent generation. They experienced the great depression, and later, the Vietnam war. Maybe their trauma is to blame for my dog eating the toast.

But then, we have to blame human nature itself, the underlying cause for many of these links in the chain, including the Vietnam War or The Great Depression. But the Great Depression was also partially caused by a drought - no direct human involvement there.

Do we blame the whims of the weather system then? All weather is the result of energy exchanges, and all energy on earth is derived from the sun.

So it's the sun's fault.


The existence of the sun isn't just an eternal truth. According to

The Sun formed about 4.6 billion years ago in a giant, spinning cloud of gas and dust called the solar nebula. As the nebula collapsed under its own gravity, it spun faster and flattened into a disk.

The nebula collapsed under its own gravity as a result of the explosion of a nearby star - a supernova. (In a fun turn of events, my daughter's name is Nova.)

So we blame spacedust and dying stars.

And those came from... the flinging of all things into spacetime by the big bang.

And beyond that, all that's left to do is blame God or the universe for my dog eating the toast.

Unless of course there is more than one universe.---

Written by Jonathan Cutrell, Engineering Manager at Guild Education and podcast host at Developer Tea. You can follow him on Twitter at @jcutrell.