People in between | The dogs in between
New in Ceasefire, The People in Between - Posted on Thursday, February 16, 2012 12:00 - 4 Comments
By Jason Smith
Dogs: loved when small, hated when big. (photo: Jason Smith)
Over the past year I have been constantly fascinated by the different people I’ve met on the way, but terrorised by a certain animal: dogs.
All over the world, dogs roam the streets, hills, fields and forests, waiting for me to wander past so that they can bark at me, growl or chase me. It seems that every dog on the planet has agreed to a plan to antagonise me, waiting for their turn to have a go at me and my rapidly deteriorating confidence around animals.
I never used to be like this. Apart from one incident when I was attacked by my PE teacher’s Jack Russell, I have been weary but tolerant of these creatures. To me, they’ve always seemed a bizarre choice of pet, one which offers constant, unrelenting, unconditional love regardless of its treatment. It’s a bit pathetic. But slowly, through months and years of travel, I started to become aware of a global phenomenon whereby dogs – more so than almost any other animal – become bitter and turn on their masters and domesticators.
Of course, I realise it’s not solely myself whom they intimidate. Their ferocity and unpredictable nature is down to the way in which they’re reared, where love is only lavished upon them during their early, vulnerable years, then retracted as soon as they start to look less pitiable. Thereafter they are left to forage for scraps, shoed away on a regular basis and expected to fend for themselves while humans around them chow down grotesque quantities of food.
It’s no wonder they turn into self-serving monsters: they are disillusioned and hungry, no one to protect them or care for them. Everywhere one turns is a dog limping, scratching itself to shreds because of fleas, or slowly weeping to death from an open, un-healing wound.
I realise this is not the same in every case, and that Britain also has its share of problem dogs. But as I cowered in a ditch, a stone in each of my hands while a dog stood nearby baring its teeth, saliva dripping in anticipation of its next bite, my cursing words were directed not towards the animal but at its owners nearby.
They laughed, as if this is something to be put up with. I found myself wondering about the mentality of people who own dogs like this. If you don’t love it, why have it at all?
While I am not advocating the mass slaughter of all dogs, I do understand the reasons that dogs like that would be put down in the UK. We domesticated animals over centuries in order to make them into pets we love and will love us, so why spoil it by breeding animals that only hate?
[Jason is travelling around the world, avoiding dogs but meeting as many people as he can. Follow him at www.traveleyesopen.com]
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