wysiwyg88 asked ehmeegee:
Has your line of work altered the way you think about or your attitude towards pets?
Yes — especially concerning purebred animals, or any type of pet which has been selectively bred in order to highlight superficial aesthetic traits for our own selfish enjoyments. Evolution is an incredibly long process when occurring naturally, yet we have forcefully pushed the morphological transformation of a few of these breeds without giving any consideration to the health problems associated with these choices.
Take the pug: it looks entirely different today than it did a short 300 years ago. That’s because we have been breeding them to accentuate their wrinkly faces, floppy ears, and most significantly their characteristic squished faces. The ‘squished face’ means that the pug has an extremely high cranial index, a ratio calculated by the maximum width of the head x 100 / maximum length. Dogs with extremely high or extremely low cranial indexes are subject to corresponding health problems. Pugs, with their extreme brachycephalic index, have an incredibly difficult time regulating their body temperature because of the lack of surface area in their mouth allowing for enough space to evaporate adequate amounts of moisture in order to cool down while they pant, meaning they are prone to overheating. They also have exaggerated ocular orbitals which give them their soulful baby eyes, but that also means their eyes are at eminent risk of popping directly out of the sockets if they sustain any amount of trauma to their heads. Throw into this equation the fact that we’ve shortened their legs and exaggerated their stature to give them a stocky build, and it means they have an even more challenging time getting enough exercise so many become terribly obese.
We see these snorting, panting, grunting little creatures as ‘adorable’, but I think it’s kind of sadistic and cruel in a way. I don’t put the blame on the dog, nor the people who adopt these creatures from shelters to give them good lives — after all, the dog didn’t choose to be this way, we did. I hope with some education about these topics humans can begin to curb their excessive need to continuously dominate over nature.
1. William Hogarth, The Painter and his Pug, 1745.
2. Pug from about 1885.
3. Pug from the Pug Dog Page.
4. List of dogs with variable cephalic indexes.