Dog People. What’s the go with this breed of human?

 width=Growing up in the country, Dad always had a fox terrier or whippet to accompany him on rabbiting expeditions or a kelpie to help round up the sheep.

The dogs lived outside, were fed on table scraps or the leftovers from sheep and cattle butchered for the table and were useful creatures. When they weren’t working they were good companions for a walk up the paddock where a snake might be lurking or fun for a run and play with a ball.

Our dogs didn’t sleep on our beds; sit up at the table; come with us on trips into town or sit on our laps being fed Schmackos while we watched Bondi Vet.

Now that “dogs are humans too” I’d like to add my perspective to doggy adoration.

Witness this exchange from letter-writers in my local newspaper, The Manly Daily:

#1. “Surveys show that 80 percent of dog owners regard their dog as their ‘best friend’. This is one very lonely bunch of folks. They are unable to connect with a human as a best friend and have to turn to an animal. Is it any wonder this mob is so flagrantly antisocial?”

#2. “Most dog-owners can rely on their dog to show them love and loyalty as well as constant companionship – traits which can sometimes be sadly lacking amongst our human friends in this ‘me, me, me’ world we live in.”

#3 “The term ‘Man’s Best Friend’ was coined because the dog wags his tail and not his tongue. What does that say about you?”

There’s no topic like our doggy friends to get us going. But, really, isn’t it time to let go of our canine love affair?

In our crowded urban spaces, surely dog love has to go the way of the horse and carriage. (How many of us still live next to horse stables or demand they have the right to gallop through the streets?)

As a city-dweller, I have never, ever, wanted a dog as a pet. The kids nagged us for a while, but we said “no” and now they’e content without one.

What does that say about us? That we are anti-happy? Lacking compassion?

It’s the opposite. We won’t have a dog because we are animal lovers.

We love all creatures, great and small. But can the same truly be said of dog owners?

I have a book sitting next to me as I write entitled: “Time to Eat the Dog?” It’s a guide to sustainable living.

 width=The conclusion is that owning a dog has the same carbon footprint as running a 4WD. That “playing golf is considerably better for the environment than owning an Alsation”. Make no mistake, the multi-billion dollar pet food industry loves your dog almost as much as you do.

The loss of forest and marine habitat to feed household pets is startling.

It’s estimated that the planet needs another nation the size of New Zealand cleared and given over to livestock farming just keep our doggies in din-dins.

Seems to me that you cannot wail about the whale hunt; lament about the loss of native animal habitat (for koalas, bilbys or potoroos) or the decline in fish stocks without understanding that your pet is part of the problem.

I know you love your cats and dogs and they love you back. I get that. I truly do. But at what cost?

Can you say that a newborn calf, joey, lamb or that loveable fish in Saving Nemo deserves to be fed to your dog or cat in dried pellets, anymore than a puppy or kitten deserves to end up in a bowl of soup in Shanghai?

We have a friend who’s a vegetarian. He’s always nagging us to go veggie, and he owns a dog. One day, after serving us some variation of mung beans and tofu for lunch he staggered in through the back door with an armful of meat for the dog. What kind of meat was it? Where had it come from? He didn’t know.

Working dogs are still important for those with sensory impairment or in security duties. However, they have become for many, just another consumer item.

Dogs will not become extinct if you don’t have one. It’s estimated there are more than 400 million dogs in the world and even more cats. They’re all hungry. Just like us.

So, no dogs or cats for us. We love the sight of a blue tongue lizard or a wren in our garden more than we crave the comfort a cat or dog in our laps. We’ve thought long and hard about this.

We have chickens as pets. They eat the table scraps and give us eggs. And they have great personalities if you take the time to get to know them – like our lovely Stormy who likes to sneak indoors and lay an egg in the fireplace. What a hen!

The world does not need one more dog or cat in it.

So, go ahead, use me as a chew toy. Tell me why I’m wrong.


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