Arjun Sen is working to keep Dogs Mountain Sanctuary alive

Arjun Sen

All over the world cruelty to animals is rampant and certain forms of it are especially bizarre and grotesque.

For 20,000 years, since the first wolf took the risky step of trying to make friends with a man, dogs have been learning to adapt to ourselves, trying to become man's best friend.

We all know this from experience, we don't need a history lesson, although a reminder of the amount of time dogs have invested in an intimate relationship with humankind, is worth reminding, anyway.

It is important to understand that man did not domesticate dogs, as is the traditional view. Dogs domesticated themselves. Recent research shows the dogs with the domestic gene mutation approached humans first and tried to adapt to them, and then humans realised they could make use of them. At no point was the dog a mere product of domestication. (This is also true for all domestically farmed species of higher animals).

To eat a dog, after the special relationship we have had with them, is to be a cannibal. Dogs are, in evolutionary and behavioural terms, honorary humans. And we have a special duty of care towards them.

Cultures that do not understand this have something missing in their composition, however advanced they may be in other things. For an analogy, a sociopath can be very talented in many ways but still fail to develop the basic emotion of empathy.

Cultures that eat dogs (and cats, domesticated as ratters and companion animals for 8000 years) have this deficit in their makeup.

We need to educate the Chinese out of this grotesque, cannibalistic habit.

We may wonder whether our horror of this custom, and instinctive sympathy for dogs, is mere sentimentality - as many would have us imagine, especially cultural relativists.

Not so. Your instincts tell you about things you know are true deep inside, beyond the place where you can readily explain it.

You KNOW that dogs are our family. They are not our food.

Please help to make the world a civilised place. Inventing paper and callipgraphy is just not enough.

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