Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Last of the Dog Men

Where are we going in the world of dogs?

In every direction under the sun
, and often straight to hell.

Dogs are entirely man-made, a function of human choice, and often a choice made by specific people in specific locations.

The farmers and huntsmen of the fields and fells of Great Britain made working terriers.

The native people of the Arctic made the sled dogs of the northern snow and ice.

The stock men of Europe made the hard dogs that could stop angry bulls or wild pigs.

The Bedouins and Tuareg made the running dogs of the Middle East.

The shepherds of the borders and highlands of Scotland made the dogs that love and live to herd.

And what has the Kennel Club made?

Not much, though they have destroyed quite a lot.

The terrierman with dirt on his hands has been replaced by the overweight matron with gold lacquer on her finger nails.

The musher with 13 dogs dogs in harness has been replaced by a fellow with a sled dog on his passenger seat, and 200-horses under the hood.

The bulldog man
now owns a wheezing wreck that can barely waddle to the edge of the field where it is trotted out as the team's mascot.

The running dog is now sprawled on the couch, and instead of a night lamping it might get a slow walk around the block.

The border man with stout legs and calloused hands has been replaced by a suburbanite whose dogs chase frisbees rather than herd sheep.

Fantasy and fraud have replaced true work and accomplishment.

Go-to-ground in wooden tunnels has replaced honest digging in the hedge.

Chasing plastic bags has replaced lamping.

Doggie ballet has replaced herding on open range.

And throughout it all, there is the claim that some show dog somewhere (it's always a bit vague) is still working at something, and never mind how that work is defined.

But are real sheep men and women runnning to "barbie collie" theorists for stock or advice? 

Are real gun dog men going to backyard Kennel Club puppy peddlers? 

Are honest terriermen with sharp shovels and worn locator collars going to AKC pretenders?

Do the Inuit get their pulling dogs from the Lower 48?

Do the gaunt men of the desert care what is said on a piece of paper when the dog cannot return a hare to hand after a swirling chase in the dust?

No, nope, and never.

Which is not to say that there is no place for dogs that are mere pets.

But if it's a pet you want, might I suggest the pound? 

There are perfectly fine dogs to be found there, and each is -- quite literally -- dying to fill your emotional needs.

And isn't filling emotional needs the real work of most pet dogs today?

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