I don't really hate dogs. Except maybe Buddy from next door who, six years after I became his neighbour, still storms the gate barking in apoplectic fury every time he hears me come in. Idiot. But I've met some individuals I've really liked. Bouncy, energetic creatures who seem bent on nothing more than having a good ol' time hanging out with me. Idiots, sure, but happy and harmless. It's more like I feel obliged to take a position of hating them because everyone else seems to love them. Creating a bit of balance seems necessary. It's more about hating dog-lovers, or hating the dog-lovingness of people. Some of these are nice people; I'll even admit some of them are my friends, but today, after a particularly lengthy flurry of cute Facebook pictures of homeless dogs and quotes extolling the eternal virtues of dog, I feel I have to object.
First: Biology and/or religion. Dogs aren't really real. If you believe in a creator god - know this: It hates dogs and will punish you for carrying on with them. You're hell-bound, religious fundie dog-lover. Properly judged for eternity. If you took a wolf into a lab today, stuffed around with its DNA for a bit, and used some kind of test-tube bell-jar contraption to produce from this a, say, fluffy Pomeranian, animal lovers and religious nuts everywhere would erupt into a spittle-flecked frenzy. I say it makes no difference that it happened though selective in-breeding over thousands of years - it's still an offence against nature. Some insecure omega wolves hanging around stone-age camp fires being fed scraps in exchange for vigilance is one thing. Fluffy yappers that wouldn't survive a week without humans are a quite disgusting other. These creatures are not of nature. They are a human experiment gone wrong. I call upon your gods to smite your dogs.
Second: Money. I don't have the inclination to come up with accurate figures for how much money and earthly resources are spent on dog food; dog toys; dog decoration; dog disease; dog injuries; dog funerals and all other manifestations of dog-induced stupid, because I know it is many hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Every year. Arching your eyebrows? Google it. USA spend on dog food alone is 20 billion a year. Don't even try to comprehend that figure. You can't. $100 000 000 000 is more than the GDP of the bottom 50 countries in the world together. That's messed up. Imagine what else could be achieved with that amount of money. For a little chunk of that I'll be your best friend. It's insane.
Third: Environment. I'm not talking about their inclination to crap anywhere and their owners' seeming inability to notice their foul excrement. Nor of the obvious toll on the environment to produce their food, toys, special blankies, bejeweled collars and other crap you (I've started using you because I'm assuming you, dear reader, are not one of the 2 other people I know who think dogs are a blight on the planet) use to decorate your pet. I'm talking about the real animals that dogs kill. Let's say Wikipedia is correct in that there are around 400 million dogs in the world today. And let’s say each of those kill just one animal a year, be it bird, or lizard, or small mammal. Easy math. I'd rather have mongoose, monkeys and wild birds in my garden. You, dear dog-owner, cannot call yourself an animal lover. You own and pander to a carnivore. You are eagerly complicit in the steady destruction of the natural world. Tsk tsk.
Four. The whole idea of owning a living creature (however genetically tweaked) should raise alarm bells. There's something not quite right about it. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I'm pretty sure Buddha, for instance, would not own a dog. Why don’t puppies in pet-shops freak you out? It’s so obviously wrong. It’s sad and disgusting and makes me want to put them out of their misery.There's something Frankenstein-ish about breeding and training the wild out of an animal so that it can be your accessory or (eye-roll) companion. How needy are you? You should be aware that if you invested as much time, energy and resources in say, an orphaned child or a stranger in the supermarket queue as you do in your dog, you may just get a similar kind of satisfaction from his or her smile and companionship than from your shedding, lolling idiot. You’re part of the problem of seeing humans as somehow separate from and masters of nature. You might own a talking parrot. Jeez. Get a pen pal. Or a radio.
Five: Noise. Come on. Why oh why, with all the bizarre variants of dog that now exist has no-one come up with a silent version for suburbia? Or even just a growler? Is the incessant barking really necessary? And why can you not hear it, but it wakes up my entire household? Could it be because you’re an ass? What’s the point of having a dog that barks at everything and you ignore it?
Having ranted a bit, I have to make an exception for working dogs. I have no problem with those. They protect or track do whatever, and get food and affection in return. Even I would own dogs if I lived far away from the protective hub of suburbia. They would live outside and I would treat them kindly. If they got sick or injured I would put them down painlessly with a shot to the head and replace them with any of those advertised on the local supermarket notice board or by my many dog-loving Facebook friends who are always trying to find a home for a dog that some dog lover has abandoned because they’re moving house or got leather furniture or didn’t think to sterilize. Unless I spent a lot of energy training them. Then I’d probably take them to a vet to see what could be done.
And six: Waste. I know Cruella de Ville is supposed to be the baddie, but if you’re into pimp-style, there’s no denying a Dalmatian overcoat with matching hat is going to draw some serious attention. It’s guilt-free fur. We kill hundreds of thousands of dogs every year anyway. What exactly is the logic in destroying all that protein and lovely pelts? I myself am not really the pimping fashion type, but given a winter’s day on which I have a bit of a sore throat I might be persuaded to don a Pomeranian scarf. They’re really very soft and fluffy dogs. And who would choose to go hungry rather than eat a dog? That’s just silly. Pit-bull stew? That’s lean meat. Can’t be bad. The SPCA could do a much better job of sterilizing and vaccinating dogs if they sold the carcasses that they incinerate monthly. Okay – the carcasses look a bit grim, as does any skinned animal, so they could mince them. Say R19.99 a kilo. Bargain for us and loads of free money for them. Not a crazy idea.
Come on people. Ease up on the dog-crazy. No matter what you think of my thoughts, there’s no denying that there are more dogs than people who want them. The culture of cute and its (kind of) opposite, the culture of aggression, has objectified dogs to the point where their inherent nature is, in fact, being disrespected. The pit-bull and Boerboel are as much freaks of nature as are the Pomeranian and miniature Pinscher. On the one hand they fetch staggering prices as if they were fashion items and on the other they are discarded as if they were unwanted junk. These are not opposing trends. They are both effects of the commodification of living creatures.