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Numbers

The Dog Grumbler

I’VE been researching online again.

Dog statistics are vague but startling.

There are approximately 900 million dogs in the world.

That’s about one dog for every eight or nine humans.

In the UK, there are around 10 million dogs, or one for every six or seven people.

In the US, there are around 90 million, or one for every three or four people.

According to one source, in America they euthanise 670 thousand dogs annually.

That’s one in every 130 or so.

According to another, it’s over 4000 per day, which is around 1.5 million a year.

Apparently, 90 per cent of euthanised dogs in the US have no painful or debilitating condition; they put down 3.5 thousand or so healthy dogs every day — simply because they are not wanted.

We have over 4.5 million dogs in Australia, or one for every five or six people.

Here, we euthanise around 250 thousand dogs every year – that’s one in 18.

Thousands every week.

How about this:

Of those 900 million dogs worldwide, how many do you reckon live with specific human families?

How many have a human home?

About 25 per cent.

Three out of four dogs Iive on the fringes of human settlements all over the world.

Sad? I’m not sure – I think they’ve been there for tens of millenia.

Once they were wolves who watched humans as they watched buzzards and taught their young how to find carrion and scraps.

Then humans started cooking food and for some wolves, being a camp follower was an easier life.

By the time they couldn’t live without us they were canis familiaris – camp followers and fringe-dwellers.

This is how most dogs live and always have.

Like humans, some dogs are lucky; they are born into societies and families where they can achieve their full potential, but not all of this 25 per cent are that fortunate.

A camp follower can interact with others of its kind.

For many dogs being taken in by a human family means never having a friend from their own species, never a conversation in their own language.

Dogs have no truck with numbers, they live in and for the moment.

Nothing counts until it moves or has a scent.

They value relationships with individual humans and other creatures, especially dogs, more than things.

Many dog owners give their dogs a good life by human standards and forget these fundamentals.

They “protect” their dogs from others of their kind.

They perceive harmless, natural interactions as “attacks” and doom their dog to a life of loneliness.

Or worse, they get two dogs to keep each other company and leave them alone together for long periods — a recipe for disaster.

If I came back as a dog, I think I’d choose to be among the 75 per cent rather than take the gamble of life as a misunderstood pet.

So many dog owners anthropomorphise — and innocent dogs end up being put to death without ever having had a chance.

Your dog needs to exist in two worlds – human and dog.

To some extent, so should you.

If you get it right you are number one — and that’s just the beginning.