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From 1 June 2003 Issue

Dogs and Vegans
By hrhbertie@tiscali.co.uk 

I am a member of an organization called VON (Vegan Organic Network) and have much respect for their mission aims. In their letters page there has been a running debate on the issue of vegans looking after companion animals. As my dog companion has just recently passed away I felt committed to give my own response. I must mention that the recipient (Dave) did not feel it was right for vegans to have companion animals. Hopefully my thoughts can shed some light on this rather polemic issue. ~HRH Bertie.

Canis caninam non est .............Maybe the dog furor has died down by this time but I just couldn’t resist the temptation to give Darlington Dave some edification on the nature of the canine species of which he obviously has a problem with. Firstly, I totally agree that the keeping of animals is wrong and that 90% of people keep dogs for exploitive or selfish reasons. (I will not transgress to other species for the sake of brevity). We should be working towards that ideal as compassionate beings and although there may be more pressing issues at hand the issue should not be ignored. UNFORTUNATELY that time is a long way off and there are compromises that have to be made in the meantime.

Dave makes the distinction between an anthropomorphic "substitute" relationship with their companion animals (not pets) and the "interrelationship" we have with natural creatures. This accusation, whilst obviously true to so many people has now become an old worn out device for silencing an opponent, a way of avoiding any genuine discussion. What about anthropomorphic plant lovers. I’ve seen people go gaa gaa over an aspidistra, suicidal over the loss of African violet, fondle foliage as if it were a newborn baby’s bottom. What was once a sensible human being now suddenly singing, dancing and talking to plants, even taking them upstairs to bed!…..…Makes anthropomorphic dog lovers appear quite sane.

I for one do not fall into that trap, far from it; I gained a new insight into the lives of other creatures and the natural world around me from being with a dog. Dave has not kept an open mind; he has merely stated a prejudice. He says established facts are few, a somewhat scientific view perhaps? How about some emotional facts. The emotional ground between a dog and human is a prescient one. A dog experiences an emotion to it’s full potential, once it is over, that is that, then they are ready for the next experience. Dogs do not brood about the past or fear the future. They are always in the present. The instinctive love that crosses the species barrier is a remarkable phenomenon………..The difference is, and here lies the truism of it all, dogs, unlike most other domesticated animals actually return it. People identify with their joy and sorrow, as it appears so identical to our own. Just as it is elusive to enter the mind of a human being, so too the psyche of the dog. To give Dave some justification, there are a lot of genetically maladjusted canine species out there who have a hard time knowing who or what they are supposed to be, and not particularly desirable to have around…but you could say the same thing about our own species….. to a far greater degree.

My situation may be different from most as 18 years ago I was not vegetarian or vegan and this dog, who was not wanted, came into my life and was then under my care. I became vegan then he also. Just as WE have had a physical, mental and spiritual awakening so too did he. I have never witnessed so many people being so touched upon by a member of another species. On the subject of man domesticating the dog for his own benefit we enter the world of mental nihilism. There is strong evidence to suggest that it was in fact the reverse, and in a sense we became domesticated. Scavenging humans were not uncommon during the period when we started to become omnivorous. Lets face it we weren’t that bright then and certainly hadn’t evolved to become carnivorous hunters.

I’d like to thank Dave for pushing me into writing this reply as the aforementioned companion is now no longer with me but I leave you with this: Questers of the truth, that’s what dogs are: seekers after the invisible scent of another being’s authentic core. Guess they sniffed you out pretty quick Dave. ~Bertie of Sunderland.

NB. The Latin title actually translates as "dog does not eat dog," yet another example of man’s predisposition when relating to another species.

[Editor's Note: Check with your veterinarian before making any changes in your dog's diet.]

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