What is it about dogs? The evidence suggests that the human race is bent on getting revenge on the dog species for our traditional fear of wolves.
A true horror story involving a 5-year-old girl and an abused dog that killed her has made chunks of the news unwatchable since New Year’s Eve. This story has come to an end with the acquittal of her grandmother for negligent manslaughter but “killer dogs” still remain an issue.
Dog fighting is an underground activity for which dogs are specifically bred and “trained” Banned dogs sometimes get seized, whenever there is spurt of public concern. The dogs usually get killed, unsurprisingly, given that they have been turned into blameless homicide machines. In that particular story, it is claimed that:
Two dogs, described as dangerous by the USPCA, training equipment and manuals were seized in the Village area.
The raids followed information received after a recent Spotlight/Panorama programme.
The 17-month investigation uncovered 15 illegal dog fighting gangs in Northern Ireland.
15? In Northern Ireland? Population? According to Wikipedia, it has the population of reasonable-sized city, 1,710,300.
I suppose dog-fighting is a minor misdemeanour in a place where murder and kneecapping are everyday experiences. Still, 15 dog-fighting gangs seems a high number for what you would hope was very much a minority interest, given that they would also need a pretty sizeable supporting population of willing attenders at dog-fights.
I am not suggesting the Northern Irish are any more psychopathic than the general population of the UK, here. Where I live, the number of dogs that exist solely to look brutal when snarling at the leashes of would-be “gangstas” almost defies belief.
I don’t want to go down the route of rightly-discredited Freudian bullshit here but I will anyway. The way that people use dogs speaks too loudly about their own feelings about being male or female. Or, more precisely, their fear of not being “masculine” or “feminine” enough to fit the current stereotypes.
The cupiditous-moron-model female carries about an offensively “cute” mini-child dog, with a bow on its head. She’s saying “Look at me. I’m so cute and cuddly and loving. And I’m so appealingly childlike that I carry round a living teddy.”
The would-be-tough-brute-model male drags around a creature that looks as if it’s been dragged up from the Hammer-horror pits of hell. He’s saying “Look at me. I’m so macho and tough that only I can handle this rabid cur. I’m basically an animal myself.”
Yes, it’s tragically pathetic, but I also suspect that it shows why getting ever greater control over human reproduction is potentially very dangerous. We are basically not a very rational species.
If dogs had the level of rationality that we (often mistakenly) imagine that humans have, they would be cursing those ancestral wolves who traded life with their own packs for the easy pickings they could get from allying themselves to our species.
Does anyone else feel unnerved seeing our species gaining more and more control over what our descendants become, when they see what a dog’s breakfast we’ve made of the humble dog? In this context, there was a very short Sunday Herald article by Dawkins that I really have to take issue with. He was makinga point that the association of Hitler with eugenics shouldn’t in itself stop us contemplating it. He said that
But if you can breed cattle for milk yield, horses for running speed, and dogs for herding skill, why on Earth should it be impossible to breed humans for mathematical, musical or athletic ability? Objections such as “these are not one-dimensional abilities” apply equally to cows, horses and dogs and never stopped anybody in practice.
There are two points here. Firstly, humans generally do breed selectively and always have. We just use criteria of appearance and similarity of interests, etc., to make those “choices.” These choices are already often bad enough. But at least, nature mixes up our DNA to throw up unexpected results. It’s evolution in action.
But, as a more specific argument against even greater deliberate human control over reproduction, I am suggesting that the evidence of the dog, in itself (bred now for its bizarre appearance or its assumed willingness to fight, rather than its herding skills) answers this question well enough.
We are humans. Even the brightest and most well-meaning of us have only the vaguest idea about the long-term consequences of our actions. Our own species is quite disturbed enough already.