Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Don't Buy This Dog

From Michael Brandow in The Village Voice:

French bulldogs do their job by looking as told, which is not as easy as it looks. Like their closely inbred and similarly deformed cousins the English bull, Chinese pug, and Boston terrier, these strange bug-eyed darlings of the rich or upwardly mobile must take whatever bizarre, contorted, unnatural shape needed to direct our gaze to the other end of that Louis Vuitton leash. Hard at work standing out from the hordes of lesser breeds on the sidewalk, they huff and puff, dragging their impractical carcasses just to keep up. So competitive is this drive to let Frenchies, and only Frenchies, into finer homes, canine connoisseurs are willing to overlook the fact that a flashy anatomy and closed-door DNA policy threaten this breed's ability to perform even as a fashion accessory and trophy of family pride....

Assuming Frenchies survive puppyhood — and the owners don't dump them — they'll never be able to use normal body language to communicate with other dogs because their bodies are so warped. "Correct" appearance as per their breed standard may say something about the owners' financial condition and discriminating taste, but those weird alien eyes, the frozen glare and exposed teeth, the endless coughing, wheezing, and cartoon gurgling that fans find so cute and entertaining, give other dogs they pass on sidewalks good reason to be alarmed and on their guard. Nature's basic repertoire of expressions and vocalizations has been perverted by human meddling, and if the owners aren't smart enough to know the gene pool is being threatened by these weak and tragic specimens, other dogs are. Humped backs distort posture and intent. Dwarfed legs prevent play bowing and invite aggression. Short curly tails can't wag or warn to signal as they should. Deliberate mutations multiply misunderstandings and explain the constant brawls Frenchies are famous for getting into at the local dog park, even amongst each other because they're startled by what they see in the mirror...

Becoming expert on this very special breed's many torments, and the litany of secret elixirs and special handling required, is almost as rewarding as imparting this arcane erudition slowly, carefully, and in graphic detail to the hired help. "It's just a Frenchie thing," one wealthy couple told a hopeful dog walker a few months ago about their six-month male, who couldn't go more than a few city blocks on a mild spring day without being carried. "Yeah, it's called brachycephalic syndrome," was my response during the interview, which didn't end well. Telling me what I already knew about their dog not being allowed, under any circumstances, on stairs — climbing up, Frenchies risk heart attack; going down they tumble like turnips with those supersized skulls — was a way to remind me they lived in an elevator building, one with a doorman instructed to report back on how closely the help was following their emphatic instructions.

Read the whole thing
. Link.  A quick post about Michael's book can be found here.

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