August 9, 2011 § 4 Comments
The last documented sighting was made by one John Doolittle, a medical doctor turned veterinarian and animal behaviorist who lived in the English backwater of Puddleby on the Marsh.
Perhaps you are familiar with the good doctor’s writing. Here is his description of the Pushmi-Pullyu: “They have no tail, but a head at each end, and sharp horns on each head.”
Dr. Doolittle did more than describe the rare creature. After an extended voyage he brought one back with him to England. Seeing the creature for the first time his housekeeper, a Peking duck known as Dab-Dab remarked, “Lord save us! How does it make up its mind?”
It would be easy to imagine the two brains of the Pushmi-Pullyu at war with each other. Even a simple decision like whether to go left or right could end up in a lock-kneed standstill.
But the Pushmi-Pullyu must have recognized that, while it could be of two minds, it was of one body. No matter how far apart the opinions of the pushed and the pulled, the success and survival of both depended on compromise.
The Pushmi-Pullyu’s visit to England is an example of the collective wisdom of two heads. Although both ends of the creature would have preferred to stay in the remotest reaches of the jungle the trip was made voluntarily. They knew their sacrifice would help Doctor Doolittle earn the money he needed to carry on work vital to the wellbeing of all animals.
To that end the Pushmi-Pullyu submitted to being displayed in a carnival tent and viewed for sixpence an ogle, a sacrifice agreed to by both ends of the creature because they cared about something they considered more important than their own pride.
What a treat it would be to meet a thinking being with two brains that is able to come to an amicable consensus, one that puts the welfare of others ahead of self and ideology.
But Pushmi-Pullyus are now extinct. That means, there aren’t any more.
Note: This was written during the self-inflicted disaster known as the “debate” over raising the debt ceiling, something that had occured many many times without incident. Our Pushmi-Pullyu government did not undertand that puishing its other half amounted to punishing self. These are scary times in which everyone talks and no one listens.
On a less grim note, thanks to Hugh Lofting for the illustration and the creation of a gentle hero and his wise animal friends.