Reflections on the Ancient Origins of the Chuckit!

I was at the park not long ago with my good friend Buster. Some human friends were there as well. Buster is a bit fetch-obsessed,...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  Jun 7th 2008


I was at the park not long ago with my good friend Buster. Some human friends were there as well. Buster is a bit fetch-obsessed, and the humans in the group took turns throwing a ball for him. It did not take long for the ball to become repulsively drenched with dog slobber.

I took the opportunity to lament that I had left the Chuckit! at home. And, I also noted that I was sorry that I hadn’t invented the device myself. My friend Brian laughed at me, and replied that I was about 30,000 years too late.

He pointed out that the Chuckit! is a variant of the atlatl, an ancient device used to throw spears. A quick check on Wikipedia proved him right.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that I was 30,000 years late. For one thing, archaeological records suggest that dogs were first domesticated 15,000 years ago.

Even if the Chuckit! isn’t a completely original idea, my hat still goes off to the person who thought of modifying an atlatl to hold a ball. I wish it had been me.

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