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[Op-ed] `Dongs are dogs`

Posted June. 13, 2014 05:50,   


Some people say, "I`m worried because my baby is not eating well these days." Some others say, "My baby is finally housebroken" or "My baby knows it`s me just by hearing the sound of my footsteps." The "babies" are not human babies but dogs. I also raise a very active four-year-old border collie named Haenguni. When I arrive at my house after work, the first thing I tell my dog welcoming me, "Mommy`s home." When Haenguni pesters me to play ball on my days off, I tell my children to play with him as a brother or a sister.

Comedian Jeon Yoo-seong held the first music concert for pet animals in Cheongdo, North Gyeongsang Province in 2009. Since then, some 10,000 people come to Cheongdo for the show held in summer every year, making it a specialty of the town. Jeon came up with the unusual idea of holding a music concert for dogs when he heard a colleague saying she had to go to hospital because her baby (dog) was sick. If dogs are your family, what is so strange about enjoying cultural life together?

Many people have been feeling happy while playing the roles of their pet animals` parents. It goes without saying that "Canis lupus familiaris," the zoological name for the dog, contains the word "familiaris" that means "family" (original meaning is "familiar"). Many people give their pet dogs organic feed, take them to beauty parlors regularly and put fancy dresses on them. There are even cable TV channels for dogs who stay home alone while their parents are away. Are the dogs receiving such tender loving care happy?

Early this year, the TV documentary "Our Sole Earth" praised a provocative issue, saying, "You should not raise a dog." Pet dogs that are so lovely in their masters` company becomes completely different when left home alone, biting things off, doing business any place in the house and even howling like wolves. "It`s the sound they make to call for their friends or masters by letting them know the location at a difficult time," says Kang Hyeong-wook, a dog trainer. Some dogs showing symptoms of separation anxiety disorder even bite their genitals or feet.

The most impressive part of the documentary is an interview with American animal scientist Stephen Budiansky, who said, "Dogs are dogs." Many people treat their pet dogs like humans and believe that their "babies" are happy. It is only an illusion. The best way to treat dogs that have become sensitive and violent because of separation anxiety disorder is not to hug and rub them but to take them out for exercise. People should love their dogs in the dogs` way. In his recent book on pet dog training, Kang argues that the word "aewangyeon" (meaning `toy dog` in English) should no longer be used.

"If your dog is your friend or family, you would not lock it inside a cage or a fence to sleep. You would not put a leash on it throughout its life. You would not abandon it just because you are moving…Dogs think of you as a friend. But why do you want to raise it to do away with your loneliness or satisfy your desire to flaunt? If this book does not change your mind, you should not raise a dog."

It is not just about dogs but also for cats, rabbits, birds, hamsters and all other pet animals living together with humans. I was pricked in my heart. I reflect upon myself for having never been a good "mother."