Sunday, 30 August 2015

Writing - It's a dog's life

I've been in this place before. I am once again considering having a pet to keep me company on long quiet days. Then I consider the level of responsibility it entails and do nothing. I used to be indecisive but now I'm not so sure!

Image result for dogs for apartments

Having said all of the above I then came across an article about the life of dogs in Paris over the last 200 years.

In 1813 people became alarmed about dog bites and rabies. The police prescribed the muzzling of dogs in public places and the destroying of unmuzzled dogs. Louis Pasteur's treatment for rabies did nothing to allay public fears and when the police created a dog unit in the early twentieth century, press reaction was negative describing the possibilities of police dogs biting innocent bystanders.

Image result for police dogs

At the beginning of the 20th century Paris was plagued by lawless gangs called 'Apaches' who preyed upon the hapless citizens. The police needed to fight back and so the dog unit was introduced. Scientists had queried the intelligence of dogs but the Paris police responded with a resounding 'oui'. They were so successful that the 'Apaches' responded by training their own dogs to attack those of the police which brought the 'intelligence' argument into question.  Could dogs really tell the difference between the citizens and the criminals?

Image result for dogs for eating
Dog food!!

Then there was a period of time when dogs became a food item! During the Prussian siege of 1871 Parisians famously devoured the inmates of the Paris zoo. Monsieur Adolphe Michel, editor of the daily newspaper Le Siecle, attended a dinner where 'dog cutlets with petit pois' and 'brochettes of dog liver' were on the menu. Monsieur Michel concluded that the dog cutlets were over-marinated, but the brochettes were 'tender and perfectly agreeable'.

Image result for Parisian dog poo
I want this breed.

Then of course there is the drawback of dog poo. Dog excrement has been a problem for as long as Parisians had dogs as pets but more noticeably so when the streets were cleared of human excrement. Even though there has been disapproval since the 1920s it wasn't until Jacques Chirac became mayor in 1970 when his administration introduced measures to eradicate the problem. They constructed dog toilets and had the infamous 'moto-crottes' who scoured the streets for dog mess and cleared it up. Even so it wasn't until fines were introduced and enforced in 2002 that progress was made.

Image result for stray dogs

For long enough the dogs of Paris were allowed to roam free. Nowadays people pay for the dogs to be walked in Fontainebleau forest but there was a time when they were allowed to wander the streets. In the 19th century laws were introduced to tighten up on the practice.

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Pet cemeteries

Of course pets don't live as long as we humans and yet imprint themselves with love and obedience on their owners and so when they die their lives are quite often celebrated in style. The first pet cemetery in the world was opened at Asnieres-sur-Seine on the outskirts of Paris. Apart from being a monument to middle class sentimentality it was created in part to improve hygiene. Prior to that thousands of carcasses were removed from the Seine every year whereas other dead animals were sold to renderers and glue makers.

So have I made up my mind? No!

God Bless