Saturday, May 28, 2016

How the World Lived With Dogs

Picture life on a Caribbean island two hundred years ago with no cars, no Iguanas, but dogs walked with the farmers to market or to the fields in search of yame (yams).

Dogs and cats roamed the woods around the house at night hunting rats or mice. People slept soundly at night certain the dogs would sound the alarm if anything stirred. They fed leftovers to the dogs without a sense of ownership. The dog that went to the market with the farmer might follow his neighbor to the river to fish.
The community dog concept is a large part of everyone’s heritage, if you go back far enough. North America is different because massive European migration interrupted the normal flow of life. Each settler brought a dog, which they valued for protection from predators.
In small human hamlets dogs wandered through the community, almost as freely as man. The humble life of the hamlet dog is part of our history.
Within the last two hundred years rabies finished the US tolerance for free ranging dogs. Americans can’t tolerate wolves in Yellowstone; dogs roaming in forest preserves, waiting to prey on children strikes fear.  It’s a national phobia.
Other parts of the world continue with the community dog concept or local variations.
Is the question how to bring the animal population into compliance?  
Is there a way to respect cultural heritage and do what’s best for health and safety without killing dogs?

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