Here are my pieces for the Grufts Exhibition at Portobello Road recently, with their accompanying texts:
"Boxers are, like many pedigrees, subject to inbreeding to retain their breed characteristics. Inbreeding heightens the chance of diseases arising, and malformation. The boxer breed has suffered an outbreak of Juvenile Kidney Disease. This distressing disease inhibits the dog’s ability to rid themselves of toxins, meaning they slowly poison themselves to death. Sufferers drink water almost constantly and become very skinny as a result. Because it is a recessive gene which causes the disease, dogs with no symptoms can still carry it and have puppies who may suffer from it. "
"The Working German Shepherd Dog and the Show German Shepherd Dog differ quite substantially in gait and stance. For some reason, within the dog show ring, a sloping back and bent hind legs has become a favoured distinction for the breed. This causes problems for the animals in terms of strains on joints and muscles, and increases the chance of early onset arthritis, and hip dysplasia. The dogs will be in discomfort in old age, with decreased mobility, and possibly a large amount of pain."
"The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has been bred to favour a round, domed skull. Unfortunately, a side effect of this selective breeding has brought about cases of Syringomyelia. This hereditary disease is, simply put, where the brain is too big for the skull. It creates pressure on the spinal cord, which, at best, causes fidgety behaviour, and, at worst, causes an immense amount of pain, calling for swift euthanasia. Dogs carrying the disease have been able to compete and win dog shows, with the outcome that many puppies are potentially born with the disease as well."
"The pug’s popularity has rocketed in recent years,. In order to retain it’s cute flat faced appearance, inbreeding has been essential. It has been suggested that the gene pool of the pug is more greatly compromised than that of the giant panda. The flat face on a dog is highly unnatural, and their short muzzle is actually just a normal dog nose squished into a smaller space. As well as condensing the palate and teeth, this is restricting breathing and the dog is less able to cool itself and is prone to overheating. The dogs are gasping for air, trapped inside their own face. The cute curly wurly tail brings with it increased cases of curved spines and the discomfort that entails."
IF BUT ONE DOG SHOULD SUFFER AT THE HAND OF A HUMAN WHO KNOWINGLY TAKES THE RISK FOR AESTHETIC GAIN, WE HAVE FAILED AND NO LONGER DESERVE THE RIGHT TO PLAY GOD WITH THE CREATURES OF THIS EARTH.