Dogs deserve better working conditions – (Subscription)

The scandal around the video recorded on the set of the movie A Dog’s Purpose must compel us to reflect on the way in which remuneramos the jobs that dogs do for us.

The dogs have accompanied us for thousands of years. They crossed with us to the Bering strait and we had come to orbit the Earth in a ship. When contemplating the history of the dog we see with clarity the history of man: its size and character varied speak of our customs, habits and aesthetic interests. His remains are in the city of Pompeii; their stomachs carnivores learned to digest grains along with us and now, they even move through the metro of Moscow. There, where he has been the man, followed closely by a dog.

When the man decided to stop being an animal wandering to become sedentary, Canis lupus also signed the contract: would that be mate hunting and start to do another type of work, this time as guards, to get food. It was then when the “familiaris” of its name was fixed forever: although this surname speaks to us of how close, does not cease to be etymologically related to “famulus”, slave.

Generations of controlled breeding gave rise to breeds that fit our needs, tastes and aesthetic: big eyes, puppies eternal; snouts that are flattening more at each generation (the degree of cause noses atrophied that do not allow the dogs to breathe properly) or that are able to help us to search for drugs and explosives; tails that wag with excitement to see us or stay very still to point out a piece of venison; a gentleness which makes them ideal for caring for the sick, or living with, children, and a strength and obedience such that some of them are considered to be edged weapons: mastiffs, hounds, shepherds, falderos. There is a dog for every eventuality and are ready to all: take care of the cattle, protect the house, pulling sleds, lamernos the face, go to war, attend the sick, to search among the rubble, go for the ball, make the muertito, test drugs, flying to space, all for food and a site, that is, to sleep.


A dog, in front of a recording device, it refuses to enter in to a river. Is jalonea, scratch the ground, screams desperate. It is not the German shepherd who appears in the video viralizado of the recording of A Dog’s Purpose, even though the situation is almost identical; it’s about a border collie that embodied the star of the movie Lassie come Home, in 1943. As it was not possible to the dog to shoot the scene, resorted to a double canine, Pal, that would be the ultimate actor of Lassie,


Just like humans, dogs have jobs that range from the infamous to the tolerable. The same thing happens with the pay: there are dogs better paid than others. An assistance dog, for example, has access to a life more or less comfortable in exchange for a full-time job that is, yes, demanding, but relatively safe[1].

Many of the dogs who work do so in conditions less fortunate: the dogs of fight, who make their living by learning to show the fangs and go for the jugular of their peers do not tend to receive a greater payment that a cage for a place to live and food. The same thing happens with the dogs in the lab that are picked up from the street, or bred specifically so that testing in them. In both cases, it is unlikely that these animals die as a result of their work. Similarly, there are rare cases of dogs that face euthanasia after he finished his call “life”. In the time that we begin to give a utilitarian value to our best friend, we also began to see it as not so much as a companion but as a tool. I think two of the most terrible that have played the dogs in the story: one in the kitchen, another in the war.

The turnspit, or, as called by Linnaeus, Canis vertigus, it was a tool to help roasting meat from the SIXTEENTH century to the NINETEENTH. His job was to run without pause and for hours on a wheel, with the aid of pulleys, spinning chunks of meat in front of the fire, ensuring that the rotisserie outside even. If the turnspit was tired or aminoraba the march, it was not uncommon for him to throw any grilled to return to the rhythm. When did technology which made the job even better than the turnspit, this race, whose physical features (short legs, long body, small size) were ideal for the job, ceased to exist. It had finished its useful life.

The dogs destroyers, for their part, were used by the soviet army during the Second World War. If the job of an animal in the war is terrible in itself, the squad’s anti-tank was a nightmare: the dogs were trained to seek food under tanks, so that when they are on the field of battle, after several days without eating, you escurrieran under the German tanks and the load of explosives that were found to be carrying detonated, ruining the tank and killing the dog: at the end of its useful life.


The German shepherd At Dog’s Purpose, was not so lucky as the collie of Lassie: his coach forced him to enter the water and, towards the end of the video that is circulating on the internet, we can see how it sinks. Is representing Ellie, a dog police officer who helps thwart a kidnapping.

According to the American Humane Association, an organization that, among other things, provides the legend “No Animals Were Harmed” in the titles of the movies and ratified that A Dog’s Purpouse met all of its guidelines, the video of the German shepherd is edited and does not reflect what happened in reality. However, the fear of the dog is obvious even to those who are not experts in animal behavior. Within the guide of the program “No Animals Where Harmed” is defined as inhuman as the lack of pity or compassion towards another living being. In the video we can see how a man spends more than forty seconds trying to force a dog to enter the water without feeling compassion for the state of the animal.

I went to see A Dogs Purpose to have a more complete view surrounding the alleged abuse. I have three dogs and a very close relationship with them: they sleep in my bed, nuzzle under my desk, they put their snouts on my knee. Go see the movie I found it particularly difficult because I knew that an animal of the same species as these that scratched my backyard and I get jumped, I had gone through in conditions of stress so that we, the human, we could sit in the cinema to move us out of situations, those yes, false.


The dogs who work as actors undergo a training. Let us return to the character of Ellie, the dog police To Dog’s Purpose: on the screen we see her overcome obstacles, attack under the orders and track. The German shepherd that filmed those scenes had to learn to pretend to attack, but without hurting, to track you as you navigate the path that the coach mark, to pretend to a bravery that might or might not possess. However, at the time that his role requires him to face the danger (the danger, in this case, a current of water) may not know that that is not real either. For it is a mighty river that will not want to skip: nothing known of the team that will be there to watch her or the guidelines of the Animal Humane that require bridges underwater among other measures to keep tabs on the situation. So your fear, unlike the value that displays on the screen and the close and loving relationship with their human, it is real.

Can we talk of animal abuse in these circumstances?, if there is a real danger or permanent damage to the animals, their working conditions are “ethical”?, how to submit an animal to a stressful situation against their will is abuse? Consider, for example, in Laika and her comrades, the dogs of the soviet spatial program. Even those who managed to return to earth and retire as dogs, they had to face the fear that causes the unknown and the incomprehensible. And that is, what explains a dog to a decline in parachute?, how a film set? Impossible.


Bailey, the main character of A Dog’s Purpose, question, throughout their various reincarnations canine about the reason for their existence. During their four lives to play with children, learn tricks, works with the police and help couples fall in love. Its reason for being is always dictated by desires and human needs. The only dog of the film that is free from the influence of the man ends up dying for this very same reason: it is a puppy street (maybe it is not a coincidence that is also the unique mixed breed dog of A Dog’s Purpose) that trap and sleep during the first five minutes. It is clear that, both in fiction as in reality, it seems that the central purpose of the dog is to serve our whims.

[1] in this regard, Jason Hribal, historian specializing in the relationships human-animal and fervent believer of the condition of the proletariat of the animals (one of his best known works is titled “The animals are part of the working class”), says in his essay “Jessie, a Working Dog” that assistance dogs should have labour rights. For Hribal, the access to family life is not enough, because these dogs are working continuously for several years, without any kind of break (even asleep are alert), and without being allowed to live with other dogs or humans. The proposal is not at all far-fetched: to give these faithful workers a couple of weeks of vacation a year so that they can coexist freely with other dogs and that they are paid financially through an association that you can view for them in case of injury at work or when they are facing the end of its useful life.

Canine Association Malaga

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