The recent news about the suspicion that a dog has been poisoned at Crufts is pretty disturbing on many levels. Before I go any further let me be clear. I think the Kennel Club is a wholly worthy and respectable organisation which, apart from a couple of areas where I believe there is an intrinsic value problem, does nothing but good for dogs in the UK and beyond.
I'm a dog lover, a dog owner (although I've never quite felt comfortable with that term), and a firm believer that human interaction with dogs down the generations has made an enormous difference to the advancement of both species. Judicious breeding of dogs has led to a wide variety of breeds which has served to enable dogs to fit into almost every facet of human life from tower block flats to the front line of far off war zones. Dogs truly are our best friends. They love us more than they love themselves and sometimes heartbreakingly despite and in the face of terrible mistreatment from their human idols. They ask for almost nothing from us but our companionship and in return give us everything they can, everything they have and everything they are. The human race is truly blessed to have such a wonderful relationship with the canine race.
Returning though to my earlier qualifier about the Kennel Club, there is one area of the spectrum of human/canine society that I have always found a little disconcerting and that is the preoccupation with pure breed dogs. Dog breeds are like ethnicities in human society. For alsation,poodle,labrador and pug read african,chinese,european and indian. The rules which we superimpose on our value system as it relates to dogs would be considered repugnant were they applied to human society. This as we seek to ensure that those within canine society in whom the best examples of the genetic traits associated with the particular ethnicity are lauded the most.
I am not suggesting that we need as a society to begin to treat dogs exactly like humans although I must say that we do need to elevate them a long way up that spectrum in order to ensure that we afford them the structure and care that they deserve. No, that is impractical and irrational. Rather, I seek to express my desire that we as a society perhaps seek to embrace diversity and multi ethnicity in canine societies as much as we seem to be preoccupied with it as a priority in the human world today.
The Kennel Club (and others like it around the world) places a benchmark set in stone against which it decrees (apart from a sideshow) that only those dogs which are pure of breeding are even worthy of inclusion in their networks and activities. This, I believe is to their enormous discredit as an organisation which espouses itself as being "dedicated to protecting and promoting the health and welfare of all dogs".
I mentioned a sideshow in the previous paragraph and this refers to their recent attempts at inclusivity in holding awards such as crossbreed of the year however these are only ever lip service. Indeed the award is known as "scrufts" which only serves to emphasise the belief that such dogs are somehow of less intrinsic value.
The tragedy of dogs like Jagger who has, it would seem been poisoned at Crufts is not, I would contend, that he has died at the hands of a jealous and bitterly consumed human. Utterly appaling though that is and tragic for the dog who may have suffered terribly as well as those who loved him, the greater tragedy is that we as a human species in our own right (that seems to be slowly learning to see all humans as equals) cannot seem to apply the same ideals to our closest friends. RIP Jagger.