Posted in Environment

Vanity In Pet Breeding.

After having white lab rats (not hamstrings) (bred especially for rearing as pets), it is time for (my grownup) kids to go for salamander fish (axolotl) in their aquarium (not really a pretty sight just like the lab rats however smart they may have been). We have had this conversation months ago and we are at square one on this yet again. How can the hyena be viewed vicious and the lion crowned the king of the jungle. Prejudices of many shades exist in our mindspace. One of the biting truths about pets we want on our home rug is that, most of us would like to have them for their vanity. Very few of the canines are bred for the watchdogs they are. Not many of us may be aware of the transitional journey our canines have had to undertake to grace our lives in the present, with their silky fur and satiny skin. The Pug for instance has been crossbred for over a century like any other canine so that what we have today is flat nosed, highly prone to obesity and heart disease and arthritis. The obsession to breed the perfect canine first surfaced in the American Kennel Club over a century ago. Ever since, countless canine lineages have been selectively crossbred and mixed bred that many dogs we have in modern times such as the German Shephard have very little in common with their ancestors from just a century before. The watchdogs of today have descended from the wolves of the forests, carefully domesticated and crossbred to alter their physical appearance and behaviour, to serve us as our friendly companions. The popular canine breeds such as the Cocker spaniel, Doberman, Dachshund, Golden retriever, Labrador, Lhasa etc., just to name a few, of present times have had a remarkable cosmetic makeover in last many decades. Selective crossbreeding brings with it its own share of health woes for the dogs as organs are mixed and matched, with the animal psychology or behaviour going for a toss. The new breed has to rewire the brain mapping and re-evolve. The results may always not be favourble even if aesthetically pleasing. For the pug as we see, the flat nose is the reason for serious breathing problems which in turn can put the life of the dog at risk. The Alsatian no more has the curved back but has gained pounds, all the time becoming less ferocious. A perfect manmade balance seems to have been struck here in taming the wolf to our advantage: less menacing, yet watchful and alert with a keen intelligence and sense of smell and ‘right’ canine looks. The human race’s infatuation with the purebred or the pedigree is equally harmful for the canines, as multiple congenital disorders are rampant leading to organ failures and a shorter lifespan. Human greed for pure bloodlines that are prized breeds has led to relentless (and at times commercial) inbreeding among the pedigrees that the purebreds today are not mostly immune to deadly infections. High mortality among pedigrees is a recorded fact. Whether selectively crossbred or mixed-bred or pedigree, the canines of current times have not had it easy to pamper our homes and make our lives more tolerable and easy. This is a good reason why we Indians must go for country dogs and strays among whom mixed breeding may occur naturally. We slam bodyshaming, but what have we done to man’s best friend over time. Exotic (amphibian) pets are fine if they are not intentionally harmed for breeding or when their species is not threatened with extinction . A big NO to wildlife especially the endangered as pets!

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