Gone To The Dogs

dogs in hatsDon’t quote me on this, but I lean slightly (slightly!) toward animal liberationism. No, I’m not one of those who thinks it’s morally abhorrent to make shoes out of cows, or that there should be quotas for marmosets on Fortune 500 executive boards. It’s patently ridiculous to talk about treating animals “humanely” – literally, treating them like humans. That sort of species-fluid nonsense agitates my spleen as much as the next guy’s. There’s a special place in Hell reserved for those who think we should treat animals the same way we treat humans, especially if you’ve ever been to Kings Cross.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t treat animals well, of course, just that we should treat them like animals. It might be a result of a childhood in the rolling New England countryside of y native USA, but the way people anthropomorphize their pets strikes me as grossly disrespectful to our furry friends — dogs in particular. I’ve never seen a yellow lab that looked happy to be dressed as a Leprechaun for St. Patrick’s Day. I don’t know of any animal that would enjoy being carried around in a purse, except maybe Kim Kardashian.

Even the existence of certain types of dog is a testament to the sick license we take with God’s creation. Many toy dogs were intentionally bred from runts, shrinking the breeds’ average size rapidly; it’s believed Queen Victoria was singlehandedly responsible for reducing the size of Pomeranians by 50%. This has led to any number of health problems. Most are prone to hypoglycemia, liver shunts, and hydrocephalus – not to mention a litany of cardiac and respiratory defects. And for what? The amusement of European aristocrats. Imagine if German princes bred a race of disease-ridden Pygmies to keep as entertainment for their courtiers. We would, rightly, be disgusted. Now imagine if keeping those same midgets was still fashionable in 21st century Australia. I can’t see how looking at a pug or a Chihuahua doesn’t fill people with a deep shame at mankind – not because we failed to treat dogs like human beings, but because we failed to treat them as dogs, as noble a beast as they come.

The worst part is that domestication has rendered most dogs incapable of fending for themselves. Almost an entire species has been made dependent on their place in human fashion. As any dog owner will know, they’re never happier than when they’re allowed to bound through an open field or chase a varmint. They like to run. They like to hunt. They like to be outdoors. Before we decided to keep them as pets, that wasn’t a special treat they indulged only when their owners could squeeze in an hour to take them to the park – it was their entire existence. People think they show their canine companions affection by giving them a roof over their heads and two cups of dry food a day. They think, that is, they show their love by treating pets like children. But that’s the last thing dogs want – to be sheltered and fed. They’d much prefer to shelter and feed themselves. But set even a German Shepherd loose into the wild and he’d probably either starve or freeze to death. Certainly he couldn’t find a mate, rear pups, start a pack, and live off the earth as nature intended.

The only sorts of people who truly understand this are fox hunters – who are, not incidentally, the most persecuted class of pet owners in the world. The best fox hunter will let his dogs sleep in packs for warmth, not snooze at the foot of his bed. He’ll throw them a slab of raw meat and let them fight for every last morsel. And, most importantly, he’ll let them pursue and kill wild animals – their most thrilling and instinctivel pleasure except maybe for … well, you don’t need a picture. And yet we persecute hunters because they treat animals inhumanely – that is, because they treat them like animals, not like humans. What a sad, ridiculous world we live in.

Now we have NSW Premier Mike Baird trying to shut down the entire greyhound racing industry. There’s no denying the rampant culture of abuse among dog owners, and it would be truly inhumane not to sympathize with those animals  hurt or killed by their masters. No one of right mind would say that cracking down on dog-beaters shouldn’t be a priority for any government anywhere in the world.

But the problem isn’t dog racing itself. In fact, besides hunting, racing is the only instance of humans allowing dogs to indulge in their favorite past time: chasing things with other dogs. It would be far better for the Baird government to use its resources to clean up dog racing than to ban it altogether – not only for those humans who depend on the $335 million industry, but for those fortunate pooches who are, under the right conditions, allowed to spend their entire lives acting like dogs.

Baird is an effete tyrant. But then mankind is an entire species of effete tyrants, especially where animals are concerned. The NSW Premier isn’t alone in his perverse notions about animal welfare, but that doesn’t justify his position. If he really cared about dogkind, he’d weed out those who savagely mistreat them. That would include both abusive punters and trendies who give their spaniels names like “Sassafras” and make them wear ridiculous hats.

14 thoughts on “Gone To The Dogs

  • en passant says:

    On TV ‘Reality’ Survival Shows we see all sorts of people eating bugs, ants, animals they have caught and killed by whatever means available. Humane? Give me a break! I have eaten many exotic things including a dog, so I can assure you there is a limited market for greyhound meat.

    NatGeo Wild has lovely closeups of lions eating the rear end of a still living Gazelle. Great TV, they tell me.

    Finally, there is the ISIS beheading videos with the reality spectacle in which one of the good baddies (we are told he is a moderate on ‘our’ side), cuts out the heart of an Assad soldier they have just killed and takes a succulent bite from the raw meat. More humane than the Aztecs ever were.

    All this reality on TV every night, yet Mike the Magnificent gets straight to the heart of the real problem: NSW greyhound racing and the cruelty to animals exposed through the actions of some trainers. This requires a whole ‘sports industry’ to be closed with the usual spate of Unforeseen Consequences. Assets built and paid for will go bankrupt, thousands of now useless dogs will be killed (pile their carcasses outside Parliament House, or better still, release them into state forests), the unemployment rate will soar, tax revenue will drop, the people involved will move to other areas (say bow hunting or cock fighting) and the zero sum cost-benefit will be ….?

    You can see the endless benefits of this Bairdy thought-bubble already.

    All that is just the usual political stupidity that we have come to accept as the ‘new normal’ (along with being shot and killed by the godly while buying a hamburger – a crime in itself), but what gets me is the injustice of punishing all Trainers and workers for the misdemeanours and crimes of some. Sort of like banning a whole country from the Olympics because some of their athletes cheated. You know the cheats: like the Chinese swimmers, the Bulgarian weightlifters, the American track stars, the greatest cyclist the USA ever produced from a bottle and syringe, the location of the Games selected by the bribes paid to the selectors, you get the idea … So, let’s ban Russia.

    I stopped watching anything to do with the Olympics many years ago (though I was dragged along to Olympic Park in Sydney to watch Ian Thorpe NOT win a gold medal). Like the UN, it is time Oz as a nation opted out and found something more worthwhile to be involved in so we can take our place in this tough world, you know, like cooking competitions, Safe School dress-ups, PC language spelling bees, Twitter Abuse Repartee Knockouts and competitive home renovating …

  • PT says:

    The clear, obvious, example to show to the obnoxious and authoritarian Baird is the number of dogs killed each year by the RSPCA, pounds and the dogs homes. Ban keeping dogs as pets! That’s Baird’s logic!!!

    • padraic says:

      Them’s my sentiments, Michael Davis, to a “T”. What possesses conservative politicians every now and then to espouse the cause of the left or ratbag minority groups? They still won’t vote for you. Just when the Premier and the NSW government are looking good with a number of successes achieved, they do a Gadarene and will now lose (or almost lose) the next election. Sorry, Mr Premier, but you are gone at the next election if you don’t back down on this urban primary school fantasy and clean up the industry instead. It was like this in the recent election when people who had been putting away money to cover their old age had the rug pulled from under them – another Gadarene rush of blood.

  • Homer Sapien says:

    I would need “the intelligence of a mechanical hare” to see any sense of watching dogs running in circles, or call it a sport or even an industry? However,I agree, animals should be treated as such.

    • Jody says:

      LOL, Homer!!! My friend used to work on “the dogs” at Harold Park for the ABC on outside broadcasts each Friday night as an assistant to Bill Phillips. She’d come in on Monday morning with riotously funny stories, for example how the mechanical hare broke down and the dogs didn’t know what to do so “the dogs” had to be cancelled for the night. She’d have me in stitches!!

  • johnhenry says:

    I think Charlton Heston said it best:

  • Geoffrey Luck says:

    Baird cancels”The Dogs” in the name of humanity while his government amends the Strata Titles Management Act to ensure that people who live in apartments cannot be prohibited from keeping a dog. There are now more than 75,000 strata apartment blocks in NSW, so there’s a fair chance that within ten years, more dogs will be in apartment living than in backyards. I suppose they can always hare around the balcony?

    • Jody says:

      This touches a nerve with me – this cruelty in having dogs confined to apartments, which then bark all day while their owners are out. Not to mention fleas and excrement. It’s the single biggest reason my husband and I abandoned the idea of apartment living. We lived in Vienna and everyone lives there in apartments (except for the expensive outer areas like Grinzing) and everyone has dogs. We were on the 5th floor in a 72sq m apartment and the apartment next door (same size) had two large Labradors which barked whenever the owners were out (and who were totally rude and anti-social) or whenever we moved outside our apartment and towards the lift. There was dog urine all over the streets, though they had largely controlled the excrement issue. We prayed for rain so that the dogs would move back inside, off the trams and trains, and the rain would wash away the urine.


  • en passant says:

    I think you have hit on the REAL reason for this travesty: the forced sale of the land to the apartment block developers, who will then gratefully donate to the Liberal Party coffers.

    Nothing to see here folks, take my word for it as it is for your own good.

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