Nature Blog Network Future Earth: The deal with dogs

Saturday, 24 October 2009

The deal with dogs

Emerging into the world this week, this hour-old beagle pup is destined to be a loved family pet. As such, she will be part of a mutually-beneficial relationship with her human family - reducing their stress levels and improving their health (see 'Dogs are good for you', elsewhere on this blog).

As she was born, an article in the New Scientist reported on calculations that average sized-dogs have a larger "footprint" on the earth's resources than most cars. While debatable, that would rather pose a dilemma for those of us enjoying the health benefits of canine companions, while also trying to be eco-friendly and care for the planet. Time to eat the dog then? Possibly so according to Robert and Brenda Vale who did the calculations, although they do include the question mark in the title of their Guide to Sustainable Living.

Eating dog meat is a tradition in several parts of the world, either for the various properties ascribed to it, or as an emergency food, as some polar explorers attest. Occasionally the dogs have their revenge, as eating the liver of sled dogs produces the condition Hypervitaminoisis and the explorer Mertz died from this in 1913. With such a widespread practice what, apart from avoiding the liver, is the problem?

Well, its just not part of the deal. The canine-human relationship has grown up around a variety of needs based on the dog's abilities to sniff out trouble or point out game. In much of the world there is now legislation prohibiting the eating of companion & working dogs, even in Korea and parts of China.

Too late for this one in Vietnam, however. And how long will our ethics within this trusting deal survive if things get really sticky?

(P.S. Predatory cats however are a whole 'nother issue, and I'll return to that when I've plucked up the courage)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hmm, interesting - I'm definitely going to have to read that article, because as I see it, my dog only needs a water-wasting shower once a month (okay, it's been a little longer than that), he's much happier pooping outside where there's no toilet to flush, and he only eats 30 pounds of food a month. I'm going to go read that article - I wonder if, as you mention, the article talks about cats as more unsustainable than dogs? Great blog, keep up the good work! :)