Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Why are so many people cruel to their dogs

There is a terrible power that comes with being human. But there is a potentially beautiful power in that, too. In this brutally unequal world, isn’t that part of the covenant with our pets? Don’t we owe them that much dignity?

Sadly, all too often the answer is that we humans violate an evolutionary compact, an implicit agreement forged over centuries of mutual respect and reciprocities. Read on.

But before you do … this essay from the Washington Post describes field work by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and their work rescuing dogs who have been subjected to the most horrific cruelties. But I will gladly eat my pork chop this evening. And to make the moralities yet more complex, know that we Scribers have two live-in canines we adopted from the Animal League in Green Valley AZ. The two lovable dogs have trained us well. Each night I surrender part of my bed so that they might enjoy such comfort.

Anthropologists believe they understand the origins of the bond between humans and dogs. It is an ancient alliance, forged from mutual need in Paleolithic times. There is debate over the specifics, but, simplifying ruthlessly:

Prehistoric human couples had each other’s backs, meaning you would sleep back to back, so you had eyes in the back of your head and a few extra seconds of warning from invading predators. But it proved mighty helpful to also have a wolf near the entrance of your yurt, one with fangs that was motivated to like and protect you.

Primitive people fed the wolves; the wolves stuck around. In time, a bond developed. You can call it taming, which sounds a little cold and manipulative, but you can also call it love. Modern science has shown that when people and their dogs look into each other’s eyes, oxytocin levels spike in both species. Oxytocin is a hormone linked to positive emotional states.

This bond came naturally: Humans and wolves are both pack animals. We are both built to team up with others to survive.

How has this relationship gotten so corrupted, then, and so profoundly, and so often? …

Here from [the Oct 8 edition of the] Washington Post Magazine is a glimpse of A Dog’s Life. Why are so many people so cruel to their dogs? My search to understand a hidden scourge. Gene Weingarten, a writer for The Washington Post Magazine, examines, the possible - and heart-breaking - answers those questions.

Scriber previews: I’ll follow on here with just a few excerpts from the Post article.

Nicholas Dodman, a veterinary behaviorist who co-founded the Center for Canine Behavior Studies at Tufts University, doesn’t buy the Darwinian argument, or all the ancillary explanations, which he sees as excuses for the inexcusable. This sort of cruelty, he says, is, at its dark core, a heartless character flaw: Some people suck.

“There are people,” Dodman says, “who sell their home and move out and deliberately leave a dog behind. Days later someone comes in and finds the dog starved.” It’s happened enough, he told me, that Maryland has legislation outlawing it. “The fact is,” Dodman says, “there are people who have empathy and people who don’t.”

"People who mistreat animals,” Dodman concludes, “are the same ones who mistreat people.”


Diamond suffers from fly strike dermatitis that has resulted in the edges of her ears being eaten away by flies. She was treated with anti-fly strike medicine by PETA staff and given water and food.

Now read the rest of the Washington Post Magazine article. But first, …

Why Donald Trump does not have a dog

The Scribers are about to take their dogs on a walk. Actually, I’ve got that wrong. The two canine members of our family are taking us for a stroll with lots of sniff breaks.

I bring up this up as a life-long dogster to make a point. Our past presidents, both Republican and Democrats, have been dog owners. Check out this video.

Dogs make us better people. So: Where’s Trump’s dog?


Posted by Sky Island Scriber, Oct 11, 2020.

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