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The Rights Of Dogs Post by :MelBalingit Category :Essays Author :Myrtle Reed Date :November 2011 Read :2512

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The Rights Of Dogs

We hear a great deal about the "rights of men" and still more, perhaps, about the "rights of women," but few stop to consider those which properly belong to the friend and companion of both--the dog.

According to our municipal code, a dog must be muzzled from June 1st to September 30th. The wise men who framed this measure either did not know, or did not stop to consider, that a dog perspires and "cools off" only at his mouth.

Man and the horse have tiny pores distributed all over the body, but in the dog they are found only in the tongue.

Any one who has had a fever need not be told what happened when these pores ceased to act; what, then, must be the sufferings of a dog on a hot day, when, securely muzzled, he takes his daily exercise?

Even on the coolest days, the barbarous muzzle will fret a thoroughbred almost to insanity, unless, indeed, he has brains to free himself, as did a brilliant Irish setter which we once knew. This wise dog would run far ahead of his human guardian, and with the help of his forepaws slip the strap over his slender head, then hide the offending muzzle in the gutter, and race onward again. When the loss was discovered, it was far too late to remedy it by any search that could be instituted.

And still, without this uncomfortable encumbrance, it is unsafe for any valuable dog to be seen, even on his own doorsteps, for the "dog-catcher" is ever on the look-out for blue-blooded victims.

The homeless mongrel, to whom a painless death would be a blessing, is left to get a precarious living as best he may from the garbage boxes, and spread pestilence from house to house, but the setter, the collie, and the St. Bernard are choked into insensibility with a wire noose, hurled into a stuffy cage, and with the thermometer at ninety in the shade, are dragged through the blistering city, as a sop to that Cerberus of the law which demands for its citizens safety from dogs, and pays no attention to the lawlessness of men.

The dog tax which is paid every year is sufficient to guarantee the interest of the owner in his dog. Howells has pitied "the dogless man," and Thomas Nelson Page has said somewhere that "some of us know what it is to be loved by a dog."

Countless writers have paid tribute to his fidelity and devotion, and to the constant forgiveness of blows and neglect which spring from the heart of the commonest cur.

The trained hunter, who is as truly a sportsman as the man who brings down the birds he finds, can be easily fretted into madness by the injudicious application of the muzzle.

The average dog is a gentleman and does not attack people for the pleasure of it, and it is lamentably true that people who live in cities often find it necessary to keep some sort of a dog as a guardian to life and property. In spite of his loyalty, which every one admits, the dog is an absolute slave. Men with less sense, and less morality, constitute a court from which he has no appeal.

Four or five years of devotion to his master's interests, and four or five years of peaceful, friendly conduct, count for absolutely nothing beside the perjured statement of some man, or even woman, who, from spite against the owner, is willing to assert, "the dog is vicious."

"He is very imprudent, a dog is," said Jerome K. Jerome. "He never makes it his business to inquire whether you are in the right or wrong--never bothers as to whether you are going up or down life's ladder--never asks whether you are rich or poor, silly or wise, saint or sinner. You are his pal. That is enough for him, and come luck or misfortune, good repute or bad, honour or shame, he is going to stick to you, to comfort you, guard you, and give his life for you, if need be--foolish, brainless, soulless dog!

"Ah! staunch old friend, with your deep, clear eyes, and bright quick glances that take in all one has to say, before one has time to speak it, do you know you are only an animal and have no mind?

"Do you know that dull-eyed, gin-sodden lout leaning against the post out there is immeasurably your intellectual superior? Do you know that every little-minded selfish scoundrel, who never had a thought that was not mean and base--whose every action is a fraud and whose every utterance is a lie; do you know that these are as much superior to you as the sun is to the rush-light, you honourable, brave-hearted, unselfish brute?

"They are men, you know, and men are the greatest, noblest, wisest, and best beings in the universe. Any man will tell you that."

Are the men whom we elect to public office our masters or our servants? If the former, let us change our form of government; if the latter, let us hope that from somewhere a little light may penetrate their craniums and that they may be induced to give the dog a chance.

(The end)
Myrtle Reed's essay: Rights Of Dogs

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