Monday, July 4

World Dog Show: when dogs are the product

The dogs parade at a good pace. And it is not by chance that this is the case: more than 16,000 of them from 250 different breeds have to pass in front of judges from all over the world, who scrupulously evaluate the degree of purity of the dogs based on their physical characteristics. There are eight categories: Baby, Cubs, Junior, Intermediate, Open, Work, Champions, and Veterans. Also conferences, workshops and exhibitions, such as those of police dogs or guide dogs, in which the animals show their strict obedience under a shower of applause. It is the World Dog Show, the largest dog show in the world. From June 23 to 26, Madrid will host an event organized by the Royal Canine Society of Spain (RSCE), the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) and Ifema. A competition with half a century of history that falls to Spain for the third time, after passing through Valencia in 1983 and 1992.

They say that the dog is man’s best friend, and there is no doubt that its mere contemplation causes us delight. It is normal that this is the case: the different shapes, sizes and personalities of him attract our attention. Her beauty and his character. They are amazing, noble and loyal animals, and we want to have them around, as they are often the best of company.

It is estimated that more than nine million dogs live in Spain, according to data from ANFAAC, the National Association of Pet Food Manufacturers. A figure that has not stopped increasing in recent years, and has even generated curious headlines, such as the one that filled the newspapers pointing out that in our country there are already twice as many pets as children under 15 years of age. Since the pandemic broke out, the number of pets has grown by 44%, according to ANFAAC itself.

A common story

Dogs and humans have walked together since time immemorial. According to a study from the University of California published in the journal Science, The first dogs arose in Europe approximately 18,000 years ago from wolves domesticated by hunter-gatherers. Little by little, something similar to an unwritten agreement was created between both species: food and shelter for them in exchange for protection, help in hunting tasks and company for us. Both parties won.

From that genesis, the different breeds of dogs emerged, based on the different human needs. The human being began to put emphasis on the breeding of dogs that fulfilled the characteristics that were most useful to him. Over time, the results ended up being as disparate as we see today. A variety that gave rise, at the end of the 19th century, to the creation of the first clubs and associations in Europe dedicated to the preservation of the different races, often linked to the aristocracy and the wealthier classes. In our country, the Royal Canine Society of Spain was founded in 1921 under the protection of King Alfonso XIII. Not in vain, from the World Dog Show website itself, its “special relationship and connection with the Spanish Royal Family” is presumed.

It is no secret that, throughout history, authentic aberrations have been carried out with dogs. Once its usefulness in hunting, defense, herding or surveillance tasks gave way to its role as a companion animal, the successive crosses in search of more tame, aesthetic or unique dogs resulted in all kinds of breeds. Sometimes even with serious health problems. A good example is pug or pug type dogs: their morphology condemns them to respiratory difficulties, eye injuries or skin infections, among many others. So much so that a study carried out by the Royal Veterinary College of the United Kingdom concluded that “they cannot be considered a typical dog from a health perspective”, given that they are almost twice as likely as other breeds to experience one or more disorders. year. For Dan O’Neill, associate professor of animal epidemiology and author of the study, it is essential “to focus on the health of the dog instead of the whims of the owner when we are choosing what type of dog to have.”

Those kinds of whims are precisely what events like the World Dog Show foster. In a country like Spain, which is at the head of Europe in terms of animal abandonment (nearly 700 a day, 258,300 a year according to figures from the Affinity Foundation for 2020), exalt the singularities of each breed and parade treating dogs as if they were mannequins in a fashion show is clearly doing a disservice to the animals themselves. There is no possible friendship with a dog that is exhibited as a product, nor any respect for a dog that is subjected to all kinds of frivolities for greater enjoyment of the stupid and ancestral human desire to stand out in something.

We see the consequences of this way of understanding our relationship with dogs in the streets of the cities, first, and in the shelters, later. Dogs that become fashionable end up mysteriously disappearing after a few years, even less than a dog lives. German shepherds, pit-bulls, huskies, French bull-dogs… A long list of breeds that originally arose to satisfy a specific human need are now mass-bred in businesses for which the last thing that matters is the benefit of the animal, and The first thing is the economic profitability of the operator. A task that, from events such as World Show Day, they justify with bombastic phrases such as “some breeds are at risk of disappearing”, in a twisted argument reminiscent of the one used by the defenders of bullfighting.

Today, the uncontrolled breeding of purebred dogs, as well as their sale and purchase, makes no sense and is counterproductive for anyone who considers himself an animal lover. He does not have it, at least, until abuse and neglect are completely eradicated and the last of the dogs on earth enjoy decent living conditions. Only in this scenario, as unlikely as the end of animal exploitation itself, could the breeding of certain breeds make any sense, always under a series of strict regulations that prioritize animal rights. Until that day comes, we animal advocates will have to face events that, like the World Dog Show in Madrid, go in the opposite direction to their rights and interests as sentient beings.