Laudato Si' Movement - A Man is a Dog’s Best Friend?

A few weeks ago I was at a cash machine taking some money out when I heard behind me what sounded like someone with a terrible cold, snorting and sniffling. When I turned round, I saw that in fact it was a dog, a type of bulldog. This dog was not ‘ill’ as such but always breathed like that. 

Not sure which type of bulldog it was but the French bulldog was UK's second most popular breed of dog in 2011. These and some other breeds are at much higher risk of developing health problems, in this case including narrowed nostrils and obstructive airways syndrome. According to the Royal Veterinary College, ‘the brachycephalic breeds (flat faces) can sadly no longer be considered as "typical dogs" from a     medical perspective, due to years of overbreeding’.

Why do tens of thousands of people buy breeds which are fundamentally unhealthy?

The fact that we have bred a dog with a face which looks like it has hit a brick wall at speed with all the associated health problems surely is one of the signs that we have a disordered relationship with creation?

We seem to see dogs as commodities which can be fashioned into shapes and sizes to suit our inclinations, cute flat face, tiny head, fit in a handbag whatever tickles your fancy.

Another area to consider is the welfare of the animals that go into a dog’s petfood? When you buy your tin of Chirpy Chicken in Gravy does it matter that the chicken that has ended up in your dog food was kept caged all its life? The very idea that your pet dog would be caged all its life would be shocking but why then is it ok for the chicken?  What is good for Skye or Max or Bella must surely be good for the chicken that ends up as pet food?

In the Encyclical Letter Laudato si' Pope Francis laments ’the harm we have inflicted on  (Mother Earth ) by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.’ He goes on to say:  

‘The German bishops have taught that, where other creatures are concerned, “we can speak of the priority of being over that of being useful”. The Catechism clearly and forcefully criticizes a distorted anthropocentrism: “Each creature possesses its own particular goodness and perfection… Each of the various creatures, willed in its own being, reflects in its own way a ray of God’s infinite wisdom and goodness. Man must therefore respect the particular goodness of every creature, to avoid any disordered use of things”‘.

I think as Christians it is essential we shine the light of our faith on the decisions we make in our daily lives. The pets we buy is one example where things can get seriously distorted if we don’t and we can end up with French Bulldogs.


Michael Sutherland