I am a sentence collector. I find them, take them with me and stick them in my scrapbook. And sometimes I even fill a whole series with it. The sentence I want to report on today comes in many variations, I’ve already collected quite a few. “We have never done something like this before” could also mean “In 26 years of keeping dogs we have never done anything like this”. Or “Our dogs never needed something like that”. This always refers to actions that concern the care, nutrition or health prevention of the dog. Claws trimmed? Never done. Teeth cleaned? Didn’t need ours. Ears cleaned, warm showered, chapped winter paws creamed, physiotherapy, dog biscuits baked, light food cooked? Our dogs didn’t need them. A second sentence, which complements these variants, always resonates, but is usually not pronounced because it obviously goes without saying. It reads: “And it would not have occurred to us in a dream either.”
They say about me that I take care of my dog too much. That doesn’t shake me very much, after all, it’s about my dog and the community doesn’t have to vote on whether or not my panini effort is appropriate. But sometimes I’m a little sad. Because the gain in knowledge that is part of our life apparently applies to everything, just not to our dealings with animals. What did we not think and do “earlier”! Refrigerators stocked with formaldehyde and insulations with asbestos. People smoked in closed vehicles, the children unbuckled and without a child seat on the back seat. We ate things without worrying about their ingredients or origin and took drugs that are banned today. We just didn’t know any better. Every day we learn more about the world, about our genes, our consciousness, our environment. The world is constantly changing. Why should what we thought about dogs in 1978 still hold true today?
We willingly thrown ourselves into the arms of marketing, which tells us we would never be able to feed a dog ourselves if there was no ready-made food. We can feed ourselves and maybe with a lot of help from Hipp and Alete we can still get our children through. But never our dogs. At least that’s what the advertising hammered into us for a long time. Anyone who stirs, cooks or bakes something for their animals themselves makes themselves suspicious of the helicopter. Consumption is political, what we buy determines the world in which we want to live. This can apply to everything – just not to dog products. Just why? The shortbread biscuits of a well-known brand (for people) cost around 50 cents / 100 grams. Good dog biscuits can easily cost three times as much. Buying them is okay, but doing it yourself for a fraction of the cost causes raised eyebrows. It is not humanizing to put the leftover potatoes and the rest of the vegetables in the dog’s bowl – it just makes sense. The dog likes it and you don’t have to throw anything away. Just as it makes sense to make him a carrot soup if he has diarrhea. Not to humanize him, but to save him medication (and money for the owner).
The gain in knowledge is also blocked when it comes to brushing your teeth. Many dog owners accept to have their dog put under anesthesia for teeth cleaning. Because it seems inevitable. Regular dental care? “Our dogs never needed something like that”. In my childhood, every second dog stank incredibly from the mouth. I thought it was normal for dog breath to smell bad. Today we have known for a long time that it is the same with dogs as it is with humans: some need more care, others less. Today Barfer explain with a grand gesture that the dog does not need any additional dental care if it is only properly fed. This is gross nonsense, which anyone who has several bared dogs can confirm, including some with good teeth and others with bad teeth – with the same diet.
What makes me particularly unhappy is the subject of claws. Almost every day I come across at least one dog whose claws are far too long, usually an older dog that is increasingly slow to move. This is how a vicious circle begins: the more difficult the movement, the shorter the walk, the longer the claws, the more difficult the movement … Too long claws can at least become uncomfortable, if not painful, for the dog. In the worst case, poor posture can arise that stress the back and joints, which are already arthritic. If the vet says: “I can no longer cut because that’s where life begins”, it does NOT mean that the claw length is good. It just means that you can’t cut anything, you can grind very well, and life gradually retreats. I often have a guilty conscience because Panini’s claws are sometimes not optimal, it takes time and calm to sharpen. But I do it and then listen to the famous sentence, mockingly recited: “We have never done anything like that”. No, you don’t have to shorten the claws of every dog, but it would be appropriate for countless dogs that do not stand in an exemplary manner, for example are a bit pervious. And with almost all old dogs. You didn’t do that before, in fact. But can’t we know better today? How “oldschool” do we have to be when it comes to dogs?
Sometimes I would just like to have more knowledge. Our image of the dog is allowed to change without us being over-challenged. We are no longer Tarzan and Jane and our dogs are no longer little wolves. They have the same diseases of civilization as we do because they live in the same unhealthy world as we do. They struggle with cancer, allergies, and most importantly, the aftermath of our self-centered breeding efforts that have put looks before health. Too tight bits call for dental care, malpositions in the musculoskeletal system call for claw care. It is strange that we cause suffering in animals but are not ready to alleviate that suffering because we do not want to correct our idealized image of them.