May 12th, 2010
The People's Dog
Posted by Pia
Recent news stories about the protests in Athens have showcased a particular canine whose special brand of loyalty has taken the form of political activism. I'm talking, of course, about "Riot Dog." Those of us who have had the good fortune to reap the rewards of some canine or feline loyalty might not find the following story as surprising as others seem to.
1 Kanellos, a stray dog in Athens Greece, has reportedly been spotted at mutiple union riots over the course of the last 3 years.
2 And his loyalty seems to liewith the Greek unions who are protesting salary/pension cuts. Or perhaps he is taking a stand in support of the 'Go Vegan' message seen here on the wall behind him.
3 There is debate as to whether this is the same dog at all protests of perhaps a combination of a dog named Kanellos and one named Louknikos.
4 But either way, there is little doubt as to who this dog (or dogs) consider to be his pack.
5 It is heartening to see the fearless efforts of a 4-legger who is clearly willing to take a stand for the sake of his pack.
6 We've heard of activists who take up for the rights of animals, but here is an animal who takes up for the people's rights!
7 And his loyalty endures in the face of water cannons...
8 ...tear gas...
9 ...and whatever else his human comrades are willing to endure for their beliefs.
10 He also seems to be a fan of peaceful protest tactics.
11 And he is often seen on the front lines...
12 ...or attempting to broker a peaceful negotiation.
13 Some have fittingly referred to him as a "Rebel with paws."
14 Whether this canine protester is one dog or many, he is a symbol for many a mixed breed stray who....
15 ...has likely had to endure his own challenges to secure shelter, remain fed...
16 ...and dodge dangerous circumstances.
17 Yet none of this dog's own struggles to survive have chipped away at his capacity to sense the needs of others....
18 ...and to exhibit unwavering support and loyalty!
19 One might even argue that enduring his own daily challenges, has cultivated an innate proclivity to sense danger and come to the aid of those in need.
20 Many who have adopted formerly abandoned or stray dogs strongly believe that, once safe in a forever home, these guys understand that they have been helped and exhibit gratitude to their compassionate humans.
There is so very much we humans do not yet understand about the myriad capacities that reside in all of the creatures with whom we share this world. But because we are the ones making the rules and definitions, we too often limit ourselves by assuming we know all there is to know. Somehow we as a species seem to believe we have cornered the market on "higher-order" abilities such as choices and empathy.
I believe this not only does a disservice to our fellow creatures -- whether they are the dogs and cats who reside in our homes, or the birds, elephants and mice in the wild -- but we also do a disservice to ourselves. We are one species among many, and it's high time we focus on our connection to others rather than on what we have been taught to believe makes us somehow superior.
Whatever you make of the Riot Dog, the fact that we are drawn to his story demonstrates some powerful things. Clearly we humans celebrate, and perhaps crave, a connection to other species. While Riot Dog (or dogs) is clearly a special dog in his own right, with a penchant for political activism, he really brings home the point that every animal is special. Animals do not need special breeding or a particular kind of training to exhibit smarts, loyalty and the capacity to make good decisions.
Our nations shelters are filled to capacity with such wondrous potential best friends, all waiting to provide companionship, loyalty -- and perhaps some 4-legged activism of their own -- if given the chance. I encourage anyone considering adding a canine to their family to go adopt a "riot dog" of their very own.
What a tribute that would be to Athens' very own canine leader and activist for change!
Dr. Pia Salk
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