The wolves were drawn in from the depths of the night by the scent of meat sizzling in the open fire. They encircled the humans but were kept at bay by the same fire that drew them in hoping for a mouthful of sizzling flesh or human flesh to appease a stomach hard with hunger. Their yellow wolf eyes reflecting the dancing flame were watched by human eyes while the humans feasted on the singed flesh of an animal, mastodon, antelope, perhaps wolf, brought down by stone tipped spears during the days hunt.
When did wolf become dog?
At some point, human stopped seeing the wolf as prey and enemy, accepted wolf into his own pack as wolf acceded to replace wolf pack with human pack. A mutually beneficial relationship must have grown from an uneasy alliance of the two hunters. Why did wolf make this transition but not lion or hyena?
When did dog become human?
In Western society, dog has ascended the animal ranks and, now, seems to rest on the same tier as humans. We baby our dogs and talk to our dogs and let dogs sleep in our beds and have funerals for our dogs. We spend more on our dogs than many people in this world earn in a year.
This wolf – dog – human transition is a topic I occasionally contemplate. It played on my mind yet again after reading an article about a starving, homeless man in a country outside the US that was put into prison for the crime of eating a dog. The author was abhorred at the very thought of eating the dog. It was as if the person had engaged in cannibalism. I thought, it’s just a dog, another animal that, by some fluke make the transition from food to pet in the distant past.
A Matter of Culture
In some cultures, eating dog is a common practice. Or, would be a common practice if Westerners had not elevated the dog to human status and interfered with this important food source. The man in the article was hungry and dogs were available so why should he not be able to feed his belly? Is it not better for him to eat than to starve? Who are we Westerners to dictate to people in other parts of the world what food source they can and cannot eat? How would Americans react if the Indian view of cows being sacred become global law and we were forced to remove this staple from our dinner plate? We would be pissed. We would fight for our ‘right’ to not have views from other cultures forced upon us. We would regard this as blatantly un American!
I am not advocating eating someone’s pet. If a person has a bond with their dog then we should respect the bond between the two. However, not all dogs are pets. Many dogs run the streets feral. It is a common practice in the US cities for stray doga to be rounded up, euthanized them to incinerate the carcases. Wouldn’t it be better to utilize the dogs destined for incineration as a food source for starving people? As a food source, these strays could actually save human lives.
When you get right down to it, other than human bias, if one is going to eat meat, there is no reason not to eat dog as there is no reason not to eat chicken or not to eat pig or not to eat cow.