The Guardian today has a section of pictures, all beautifully shot, showing dogs dressed up supposedly to attract new owners.
Dogs are wreathed in flowers, draped in silks and velvets and all dolled up for a hoe down. Somewhere underneath all of this, some of the dogs beam happily out, some look anxious and uncomfortable. Many dogs feel uncomfortable at the direct “gaze” of a camera lens because they interpet it as a threat. Others cheerfully mug for the camera – I had a dog that nearly knocked someone overboard when we were travelling on a ferry because he was sure that the man wanted to take his photograph and was “helpfully” positioning himself in front of the camera. This was a dog that had been abused for 11 years before coming to me and really did not like strange people, unless that is, they were taking photographs!
The harm done to a dog that is uncomfortable at having it’s photograph taken is minimal. What I question, is whether dogs should be placed on sale in this way. Make no mistake about it, rescue or no, these dogs are for sale. They are as much commodities as a pair of second hand shoes being sold in a charity shop. The raison d’être of any rescue is to process as many animals as possible so that they can make room for more.
We all know that owners think it acceptable to buy a dog then treat it like a doll; how much more likely are they to do that if the dog is packaged up that way in the first place. “Aww, look at it’s cute ‘ickle face, all framed in pwetty flowers”.
Why not go out on a limb – show the dog racing after a ball, retrieving a Kong, rolling over for a tickle – BEING A DOG ON ITS OWN TERMS. Sorry to shout, but really. It’s time that we allowed dogs dignity and made owners realise that they are taking on another species with its own particular needs and that we owe dogs a duy of care in their own right.