Perspective can cloud the truth. Give the same set of circumstances to several individuals and you will a wide variety of opinions. We screen what we are being told through our own individual filters. Those filters are developed from the knowledge we have acquired and experiences we have had.
The movement by the Vancouver Humane Society and other animal rights groups to banish sled dogs and sled dog racing will likely receive a lot of support for all the wrong reasons. It follows the tradition of using a sledge hammer to swat a mosquito.
What happened to the sled dogs in Whistler was cruel and inhumane. Hopefully it will be investigated and will result in the law punishing the perpetuators.
I am a dog lover and we have our pets. They are treated well, cared for, taken care of medically and fed appropriate food. As one of friends quipped: “You treat your dogs better than most people treat their children.” That is what all pet owners should do. They are dependent upon their people and their people have the obligation to treat them well. In turn they are good companions and add to the quality of our lives.
Working dogs are very different than pet dogs. They are selected for the required size and characteristics. Specific breeds are used for different purposes. Watching a trained border collie work a group of sheep is sheer delight. The dog is having a great time because they are doing what they were bred and trained for.
Living in the North, I have met a number of sled dog owners and their dogs. As owners, they a caring people who respect every dog for its own individual self. They monitor their care and health in detail and likely treat their dogs better than most pet dog owners do.
These dogs are working dogs. They are the happiest when they are in harness and out on the trail. To maintain their training and physical conditions, they are harnessed up frequently. Visiting one sled dog owner, I was witness to how much these dogs love to do their job. He had two teams and when he was selecting the first team to harness up to the sled, you could see the dogs saying pick me. When he headed out with the first team, the dogs left behind settled down with the occasional sigh of disappointment. When he returned, they knew it would be their turn and bounced around in sheer joy that they were soon were going to get out there and do their job. They live to work.
The Vancouver Humane Society could better spend its time developing a program to educate people to take better care of their pets. We love our pets but we do not always treat them well. Feeding them table scraps especially high fats is bad for them. They need food appropriate to their breed, age and health. We also need to give them an appropriate amount of exercise. As they can not usually tell you when something is wrong, regular veterinarian checkups to assure they are in good health are a must. It is also important to spend some companionship time with them.
Dogs in particular are pack animals and you become the pack leader. They need regular reassurance that they are still liked by the pack leader.
Sometimes we confuse kindness to our pets. There are many dogs who are overweight, often because we think we are being kind by feeding them inappropriate food, too much food, or both. That simply shortens their lives and sets the stage for the onset of illness in the future. Have you ever seen an overweight coyote or wolf?
Lean what your pet needs and be prepared to do it. That is kindness.
Vic Bowman was born and raised in Vanderhoof and now lives in Prince George.