Today’s Dinner Special: Your Pet Dog

We as a society see kittens and puppies and naturally think things like, “I want to pet it!” or “what’s her name”…but have you ever thought, “hmm.. that dog looks delicious” or “that cat would make a great entrée”…Well, of course you haven’t, because that would be absolutely ABSURD and HORRIBLE. But who decided this? Of course dogs and cats are adorable, fluffy, and lovable, but wouldn’t pigs be just as adorable if we domesticated them, got them groomed, and didn’t slaughter them? Now don’t get me wrong, I eat pig. I’m not a vegetarian. I just want to get to the bottom of how our society decided that we would take wolves and wild cats and put them on a pedestal consisting of treats, cuddles, and unconditional love.

Through research, I found that the history of humans and dogs is in fact a blurry one; at one point around fifteen to thirty thousand years ago, man began building his relationship with dog. Dogs most likely grew accustomed to humans after many years of manipulation into being protectors, companions, and hunters. While some believe that dogs came to be our best friends because people randomly decided to take wolf puppies and domesticate them, others believe in a process called passive domestication. Passive domestication is a process of natural relationship growth between animals and humans. I personally have no position on which of these is true and think both are viable possibilities. This still doesn’t totally explain the whole question of, “why isn’t it socially acceptable to eat a dog” though. How did things go from using dogs for labor and protection to dressing them up in Halloween costumes? (Below is a picture of my cat, Batman, in a Penn State jersey).


Passive domestication is more clearly explained in cats. In the article hyperlinked above, the author discusses evidence regarding the idea that cats most likely came onto people’s territory to catch prey and in turn were given scraps of food for protecting crops. Thus, a passive relationship was slowly built. Unlike dogs, cats were not manipulated into being our pals. Cat domestication actually stopped far earlier than dogs because instead of using cats for various things, we just didn’t mind their presence. I wonder if this explains the stereotype that cats don’t care about their owners. Is this because we never forced them into loving us? Either way, we still aren’t eating our cats. Why?

I came across a very riveting point in the article that brings everything together and may actually answer my question. Recent studies have shown that dogs have a sense of jealously and ethics. They know right from wrong. They enforce righteousness. Although cats are much harder to study in lab, scientists such as Darwin use everyday observations to prove that cats are just as intellectual as dogs. Darwin has discussed his observations regarding cats always hunting specific types of birds to prove that cats can distinguish different species from each other. Although this type of conclusion is often criticized because it is not as invasive and revealing as an experiment, cats have still prevailed over thousands of years as one of our favorite household companions.

The concern among scientists today is as follows: If we as a society claim dogs and cats as our property and give them special treatment, who is to say that farmers can’t do the same thing for cows and chickens? Who is to say that animal testers can’t decide that rats deserve rights and stop testing on them? If the cycle goes on, will all animals become our best buds? In my opinion, I think this will never happen. In class we learned about rationality; no one is telling us that we can’t eat dogs and cats, but as a society we have made this a clear social construct. We have made the decision as a society to keep dogs and cats as our pets. It would be irrational to eat our pets. Due to thousands of years of relationship building, a natural barrier between these two animals and the rest of the animals in the world has been built. In my opinion, the evolutionary history of dogs and cats has spoken, and other animals will never be able to reach the pedestal. Once we as people start comparing these animals to our children, I see no possibility that we will ever eat them. I believe now that we have put all our efforts toward dogs and cats as our most favorable companions, we are content. We don’t mind leaving our house and buying a pound of ham, because our love for our pets distracts us from the fate of other animals.

Note: When I reference “society” I am referring to the Western world. I have been getting comments about dogs and cats being food for certain countries, but I am focusing on the cultures that do not see this as an acceptable activity.

4 thoughts on “Today’s Dinner Special: Your Pet Dog

  1. Matthew Porr

    Anna, this blog was very interesting to read because 1) I miss my own dogs and 2) I’ve always wondered if there was ever a natural disaster would people end up eating there animals as a last resort? While reading this I couldn’t help but think that this is a very American point of view. Many eastern cultures eat cats and dogs regularly without hesitation even if humans domesticated cats and dogs. I honestly do not see a problem with eating them in a practical sense. However I would never eat my dog, I just don’t think its that unheard of for people to eat cats and dogs. Eventually, maybe America will change their mind and try something new because eating a dog is pretty much equal to eating a cow. At the end of the day they are both animals. I think it even has the possibility becoming normal later on in the future when the stigma that a dog is only a pet starts to fade.

  2. Mary M. Brown

    Hey RACHEL,

    This is such a cool blog post! I was always curious as to why some cultures domesticate animals and other use them in their meals…this post really cleared things up. You’re right when you say that our society deems it rational to domesticate cats and dogs. Honestly, thank God for that! In fact, here is a cool article I found that lists six reasons why pets are healthy for you. From one animal lover to another, I hope you enjoy!

  3. Taylor Weinstein

    Hello Anna,
    I found this article extremely interesting. I never thought about eating your pet but it makes sense to think about it because we eat bacon and people drink milk from a cow, so it’s interesting to read why we don’t eat dog or cat. It just sounds weird saying that but it makes sense for people to wonder considering we eat other animals. While researching i found a CNN article about argument for eating dog. This was something I defiantly didn’t think I would ever read before. In the article it talked about dogs stuffed into crates and trucked, illegally, across borders in Southeast Asia to the destination of a restaurant in Vietnam. Reading this article that I found was hard to understand because in our culture we think of dogs as our furry little friends and not food. Although on the other hand it was interesting reading about other cultures and them eating dog. This article further explains how different cultures kill and view dog as food. Found it very interesting to read and learn all this.

  4. Katrina Burka

    I found your blog really interesting Anna. I knew dogs and cats were domesticated from humans, but I had no idea the specifics involved in either cases. Something that came to mind when reading your blog was Asian countries and there relationships to dogs and cats. In many countries, people eat dogs and cats, it is as common as beef or chicken. So, a more extensive question I might ask is, how do specific societies treat animals? Is the US different because we were separated from the Eastern world to an extent? Maybe, what outside variables have contributed to humans loving other animals. We don’t see that in many other species. I found this image to relate to your post and how dogs have a somewhat understanding of “ethics”

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