The relationship of Man to Dog is a curious one, Of course, there is lots of mutual love and affection, whether it is expressed as him wagging his tail or you rigorously scratching him behind the ears. But Man has come up with an enormous variety of instruments for keeping his “best friend” in his place—the collar, the muzzle, the leash, the argyle dog sweater—each seemingly designed to render significant humiliation while avoiding outright contempt.
Until today, we considered the worst of these instruments the conical dog collar, those white plastic contraptions veterinarians force dogs to wear so they won’t lick their anti-flea medication or pull out their stitches with their teeth. If you’ve ever doubted that dogs have feelings, just take a look at one wearing a conical collar. Like a medieval villager set in the stocks at the pleasure of the Lord of the Manor, the face of a dog so afflicted is one of pure pathos; sadness and shame and bewilderment radiating from every pore.
We thought that was the worst thing you could do to a dog, until we saw the picture below. At least there’s usually a medical reason for employing a conical collar. But this…well, frankly we can’t find the words. Never mind the fact that you’re denying the dog the chance to do one of the few things he’s actually good at—running—but by demoting him to the status of a pannier bag, you’re denying him his heritage. His ancestors pulled the sleds that brought the first human explorers to the North Poll, for God’s sake! And now you’re bringing him to the local food co-op? That’s brutal.