Chances are, if you own a dog, you have these notions in your head about how you love your pet or how it’s part of your family. You think of your dog as your companion. What you have to understand is that the reason you think this is that you are an awful human being. A total and complete monster. You are not completely ignorant of this fact, you just happen to be engaged in a gigantic game of pretend with the entirety of our culture. I’m not going to tell you not to feel bad about it either. You are guilty of a miserable, disgraceful thing and it’s about time that people start telling you the truth, instead of letting you dance around in that little bubble that you refer to as reality.
This strange dog fantasy you are experiencing has been nurtured by the fact that our culture tends to hide its greatest cruelties under a veneer of nostalgia and manufactured love. You turn on the television and there’s another dog bouncing around with respect and great reverence for its master. You look on a Hallmark card and there’s another stupid looking dog performing some humiliating show for your entertainment. Getting its nose caught in a cookie jar or cuddling with a kitten or accidentally tracking mud on the new carpet with an “aw shucks” type dog grin. AWWWW…look at that, the dog surrendered its dignity again. Don’t you just love when it demeans itself? Isn’t that cute?
Maybe you think back to when you were young and that special animal filled you with the warm feeling of home or family or some other absurd illusion. And maybe, just maybe, the dog really did love you, too. But I doubt it. Look at it from the dog’s point of view. Its entire way of life has been annihilated. It has no freedom. No self-determination. We’ve bred all of the characteristics and will out of it and turned it into a hollow shell into which we project memories and myth. You are its ticket to survival. Better put on a hell of a show.
To the loving owner, the dog is moving, highly symbolic furniture. They are a showpiece meant to express unspoken facets of the person’s identity. Kind of like a table. In truth, it is nothing more than sick product of an insane society that revels in debasing anything that cannot speak for itself. If dogs truly understood their lot, they would bite every human they came in contact with. Of course, if they did that, they’d be exterminated immediately. No opposition to our hegemonic pet fantasy can be tolerated!
I saw a bumper sticker the other day that indicated that you should neuter your dog so that you don’t have to euthanize a bunch of other dogs in the future. A big, goofy Labrador sat on the person’s front seat. That person probably thinks of themselves as a kind, loving pet owner. I imagine they have conned themselves into thinking that these two actions are the only possibilities. But, can we seriously consider anyone compassionate who thinks that castration or genocide are the only two conceivable actions when discussing a living creature?
Whether you treat your dog well is beside the point. Maybe you let him run around outside and give him treats all the time. Maybe you scratch her belly and heap upon her massive amounts of affection. Maybe you take care of him when he is sick. None of this matters. The autonomy of a living thing is all that means anything. It has been systematically stripped of that through decades upon decades of love and adoration. We have killed its spirit with kindness. You may love it, but it has never been given the honest choice to love you back. It cannot leave or dislike you without existential peril. It is not your pet; it is your captive.
Dogs are the ultimate nightmare scenario. Life without choice. Life without will. Being paraded on a leash. Being entirely controlled and objectified. Broken, not just as an individual animal, but also as a species. Our victory over dogs is so complete that they have become our culture’s mascot. Children laugh and pull on their tail. We dress it up in sweaters and cute little outfits to impress other people. We go so far as to delude ourselves into thinking that they are our “best friends”. But, they are not. Friendship requires mutual consent from both friends. The dog has never been given the option to consent. It has been given its place and it will stay there.