Whatever You Do, Don’t Hurt The Dog!

Steven Lloyd Wilson wonders why we often blanch more at the fictional depiction of canine suffering than human suffering:

We know that our dogs would die to protect us, that they have a selfless loyalty burned into their bone and pounding in their veins. They have the moral code of Arthurian knights, steel sheathed in velvet kindness. This is the way of the pack, and when dogs accept us as their pack, it is in a sense the most horrific lie that humanity has ever told. We accept the mantle of pack leader without shouldering the responsibility. How many of you would throw yourself in front of a bear to protect your dog? How many of you would lay down on your dog’s grave to die?

Is it any wonder then that we cannot bear their suffering in a story? It isn’t because we feel more for dogs than we do for men, but because we cannot bear the reminder of our own betrayal.