Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tails of Canine Devotion: Part I

"If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around." - Cowboy Wisdom

For the last 12,000 years of human history, man has depended on the canine as hunter, herder, and companion. Their significance stretches back to claims of sled dogs being used to transport the first humans across the Bering Strait, to the use of Irish Wolfhounds by the Celts in the sacking of Delphi in 600 B.C.

Shakespeare’s lone starring quadruped through his entire canon is a dog, named Crab, from Two Gentlemen of Verona. Why the non-sensible name? Could it be that the true affection expressed in the relationship between man and dog can’t be fully addressed with language? To paraphrase the Bard: A dog by any other name…will love you just the same.

Argus, from The Odyssey by Homer, was Odysseus’ loyal old dog and the only one, of man or beast, who recognized his long-lost owner when Odysseus returned from his wayward journey in a beggar’s disguise.

The relationship between dog and man has had proven significance within the academic and clinical realm: Sigmund Freud kept his pet chow chow, Jofi, with him during psychotherapy sessions, believing that the animal comforted his patients. His observations of these interactions served as the basis for his writings on pet-assisted therapy.

With the progress of audio technology in the early 20th century, the dog again took center-stage in the shape of a Jack Russell Terrier named Nipper whose presence on the “His Master’s Voice” advertising campaign turned the tiny dog into an icon. Even in the new century, it is an image that has been retained by brands such as HMV and JVC. What better way to assume the ability to perfectly replicate sound then to present a dog taking its master’s commands from a gramophone?

Stay tuned for more tales of Canine Devotion

No comments: