Chris has a neat post up on BorderWars.
It’s about the mice showing culture.
Yes. Competitive conformation shows for domestic house mice.
They do exist.
I think the most interesting aspect isn’t how naked and disturbing and bizarre the ideals of the subculture actually are.
The most interesting–and much more disconcerting– aspect of the piece is it reveals the id of the competitive animal showing and breeding practices.
Mice are not intelligent animals.
They are short-lived, tolerate inbreeding very well, and have very short gestation periods.
They are also often bred solely to feed other animals and for research purposes.
And no one really cares about mice as individuals.
Because individual mice are largely expendable, the moral restrictions that might hold back that id in its rawest and most naked forms with other animals simply aren’t there.
Thus, one can breed mice with no real concern for their genetic health, their quality of life (in the case of the “waltzing” mice), or their intrinsic value as individuals.
One can use whatever breeding and culling practices one wants in order to produce that ribbon winner, and if today’s ribbon winner is inferior to his sons or grandsons, then slam him up against the wall!
This nonsense would not be tolerated in dogs, but like all ids, it can’t be truly hidden.
It’s held back by certain moral strictures, but if dogs were valued in the same way mice are, they would be bred exactly like this.
And they were bred like this in the early days of the fancy.
The ribbon chasing id has only be ameliorated through the growing status of dogs in the West, and as dogs become more and more valued, it’s likely that the values of the entire system will be questioned.
It’s already happening.
People are beginning to wonder if breeding animals for competitive exhibition has resulted in vast improvements of animals themselves.
The evidence simply isn’t there, and in terms of genetic load and inbreeding depression issues, breeding animals for these purposes has made things worse.
The mice fancy shows us what would happen if the ribbon-chasing id were allowed to exist in other animals without any moral strictures.
The revelations of their exact values are quite disconcerting.
And they should be.
They tell us what could happen if people hadn’t been questioning the axioms and platitudes of the dog fancy.
Dogs would be in far worse shape now.
And that’s why we should keep on challenging the dog fancy as it exists in its various subcultures and permutations.
Otherwise, the ribbon-chasing barbarism would take over.
And that would be quite bad for dogs– the animals we like to call our best friends.