We like to think we’ve come a long way in the way we treat our dogs. We go to great lengths to understand them better and most dog lovers treat them as part of the family. But there have been some pretty horrible moments in the history of humanity’s relationship with dogs.
It would be nice to sweep all of this into a box of repressed memories, but that’s irresponsible. We need to remember these things have happened so we don’t repeat them.
1. The Edison Dog Factory
This short 1904 comedy clip produced by the Edison Manufacturing Co. (Yes, Thomas Edison was behind this) shows a machine called a “Patent Dog Transformator” into which dogs could be placed to be made into sausages. (Don’t worry, it’s just pretend.)
It wasn’t real, and while it may have been humorous to a 1900s audience, stuff like this just would not fly with today’s dog-loving audience.
2. Douglas Mawson’s Sled Dogs
Douglas Mawson was an Antartic explorer who somehow survived what is probably the worst expedition ever undertaken. After running out of dog food and finding himself facing certain death, Mawson was forced to kill his sled dogs and feed them to the surviving team. In his notes, Mawson wrote:
Mawson was the only surviving member of his original three-man team after the gruesome experience.
On November 3, 1957, the Soviet Union sent the first animal into space. Many people know about Laika, the Russian stray dog from Moscow who was chosen to be launched into orbit.
What many might not know is that much of the press surrounding the guaranteed suicide mission joked about the event, publishing headlines such as, “The Russian sputpup isn’t the first dog in the sky. That honor belongs to the dog star. But we’re getting too Sirius.” Puns such as “pupnik and pooch-nik, sputpup and woofnik” abounded as well.
A monument in Laika’s honor is now on display in Moscow.
4. Overtoun Bridge
There is a bridge in Scotland where dogs have been committing suicide since the 1950s. The cause of these suicides is still unknown, but evidence suggests that an odor is attracting the dogs to make the fatal leap. Animal behaviorists have tried to understand what causes dogs to behave this way through experiments and research, but the cause still remains a mystery.
While it’s good that researchers are focusing on why this happens, more effort needs to be put into preventing it, too. It’s always a good idea to keep your dog on a leash when walking through potentially dangerous areas.
5. Turnspit Dogs
The Vernepator Cur was a small dog once used in British kitchens in the 16th century. Large kitchens used the dog by placing it in a wooden wheel attached to the wall near the fireplace. As the wheel turned, a chain hooked up to the spit turned the meat slowly.
To keep the dog from fainting from the heat emanating from the fireplace, the wheel was placed very high on the wall. A hot coal was sometimes chucked in to encourage the dog to run faster. The breed is now extinct.