My social media timelines exploded with posts last night about the winner of Britain’s Got Talent. A collie called Matisse and his owner/trainer Jules showed a very well scripted routine linking tricks together into a story that was heartwarming to the end.
Not without controversy, a big question mark hangs over the idea of dogs being used for entertainment. I was on standby to talk about this on Radio 5 Live this morning, but got pipped to the post by a Star Wars stunt man who trains his own stunt dogs. Impressive, although I don’t remember dogs in Star Wars, but who knows? Performing dogs have a very different, and difficult job to do.
During the show’s heats, we saw various dog acts. One terrier, Cally, burst balloons frantically and achieved a world record. I was cheering her on in spite of myself.
Another dog on the show supposedly hypnotised people, including Simon Cowell. I had my doubts about this until I looked down at our little dog crew staring fixedly at my dinner plate. Were those pairs of eyes able to convince me to give them any leftovers? (sometimes, if I am honest). If dogs really could hypnotise us, imagine the chaos!
The most controversial act was a gentleman called Marc with a little white pooch called Wendy. Initially the audience appeared baffled when Marc spoke to Wendy, and Wendy talked back, moving her mouth at the same time as the words that were coming out. A talking dog! However her appearance seemed unusual, and it quickly became obvious that a muzzle with movable jaw had been fitted over her own nose and mouth. A bit of fun, you say? Looking closely, this dog was shaking and scanning her surroundings; she did not look very relaxed or happy.
Anyway, should this mean everyone now feels a little despondent that their dog is not as ‘talented’ as the dogs we saw on this show?
Our dogs have the most difficult job in the world. They are pets. Not for them a stage and props to learn to get used to. Not for them a predictable routine that is always going to repeat itself in the same way.
Pet dogs have to deal with us humans, too. What other species would allow us to deny them delicious food on our own plates, giving them a dry biscuit in a bowl. How patient they are with our various peculiarities, spending our time staring at objects made of paper or flashing lights and sounds coming from a box, or poking at a tiny rectangle of battery and glass in our hands. All time they could be spending roaming around outside where the real action happens. Do we really think our dogs are ‘dumb friends’just waiting for us to give them a purpose?
They are already incredibly talented. Look what they provide for us, put up with, tolerate to extremes, without biting or scratching us (at least, not without serious provocation).
Be delighted that our dogs have all the talent he or she needs. Let’s give them our vote.
P.S. What is YOUR dog’s special talent? Let’s hear about it in the comments below!