The following story is about a collision between eras, beween static and dynamic evolution of dog breeds, between opposing reasons for dogs and dog breeders to be. One side contains the argument I have subscribed to all my life. The other is one that hit me hard one day as I watched the new displace the old in a new world, when I had to acknowledge, with a feeling of overwhelming loss, the unsuitability of the old, and the adaptations of the new to the world of the new. Most days, with groundless optimism, I don't dwell within the conviction of what was revealed to me that day, when I saw that my side is the losing side and I knew that as a true thing. I'll start my story by presenting what has been my side; my contentions, my beliefs, my basis for bringing canine lives into the world.
The Borzoi Club of America put out it's
Blue Book in 1973; it is illustrated with photographs of the great dogs
of the day, mostly born in the 1960's. They are a significantly different
looking group than the dogs that grace our magazines today, thirty to forty
years after their birth. The most prominent differences are that they have
far less coat, far less rear angulation, and they are for the most part
long-legged, with a topline arching over tightly tucked-up loins. There
are good dogs and not-so-good dogs, and many in between; but they almost
all have long legs; dry, tapering, bladed limbs; open rear angulation;
and are roughly square. The majority of the rears would be scoffed at today
as "underangulated", "too straight", "unbalanced". The dogs in the pictures
tend to stand well up on those underangulated rears, which have long, sighthoundy
bones for speed, and they tend to stand well over their fronts, with the
center of gravity resting over the column of support. These fronts create
a curvy appearance, with no straight lines from withers to ground and no
abrupt angles as the neck joins the body. The well set neck flowing into
the curving topline over well-tucked-up loins completes the series of s-curves.
These features combine to produce an incredibly beautiful, graceful appearance.
These dogs of the 1960's and earlier have far less coat, allowing their body shape to be seen and allowing them to run without overheating or entangling in the shrubbery. Their coats tend to be curlier and wavier than the dogs we see today. Our standard still calls for the neck frill to be "rather curly", but curl is being selected out and we rarely see curly borzoi anymore, with the side effect that we are losing the lovely waviness as well. A generic long straight coat is replacing the unique, breed-specific one.
We sometimes hear it said that the dogs of today are better than these ancestors of theirs. Seeing all these dogs of the past, page after page, famous dogs who wouldn't get a look in the show ring today, brings home what a loss we will have if these traits, valuable for running but not for showing, are discarded as inferior without anybody questioning, "What exactly is better, anyway?" And how do we know it's better? On what basis do we decide that the dog before us now, with profuse, lengthy straight coat, shorter, heavier legs, and lots of rear angulation, trotting without sidestepping, is actually better than the dog that came to us about 100 years ago from it's country of origin where it was developed by success or failure at it's work? Heavy coat, short heavy legs, and lots of angulation are humorous as a recipe for speed; though they may be quite popular across many breeds, for showing.
Aside from that, on aesthetic grounds alone, those tautly held, open-angled, high on leg, horizon-scanning, hunter-hearted, plushy coated, shapely and exotic borzoi were beautiful. Not particularly pretty; but workmanlike and beautiful in their neat neccessity, elegant in their essentials, cleverly understated, everything for a reason; and there's a world of difference. Pretty, in addition to being trivial, is not in the standard; nowhere is it called for. Overdone or extreme is worse than pretty, it's downright ugly, caricaturish and hollow as glamour and sentimentality.
That's one person's subjective
opinion; mine. To decide to breed for what is either pretty or beautiful
poses an immense problem: who decides? Breeds did not evolve that way;
they evolved by behaving successfully and through that behavior filling
objective needs. Based on arbitrary personal preferences alone, what one
person finds to be glamorous another finds to be a grotesque; what one
finds to be gorgeous another finds painful to look at. Deciding what is
pleasing arbitrarily, pursuing it and then justifying it by grasping at
downright silly, physically unsupported reasons for why it is essential
to the dog's function is backwards. Fanciful theories and made-up absurdities,
some as silly as the idea that the long sighthound head is necessary because
the dog uses it's nose to sight down like a gun barrel, are spoken as if
they were solemn truths. Any takers on that one? Do they shoot their prey
through their noses or what, exactly? This is as far away from what recent
science is showing about head length and eye function as you can get. And
it neatly illustrates why we are not able to maintain function by selecting
on our perceptions of what the form should be, especially as that form
is statically presented in a show ring setting, rather than as it evolved
through dynamically interacting with a total environment. The long sighthound
head, for example, has recently been found to be constructed that way,
not because the dog "aims" in some way down it's barrel-like muzzle. The
skull is long because that results in placement of the eye toward the side
rather than toward the front of the skull, providing a wider field of view
which is useful to a sight hunter. But at least as significant, it also
results in an anatomic effect on the internal cellular arrangement within
the eye and the brain (more on this below). This is not something any person
can see by examining the dog externally. From information provided to us
through his external appearance alone, no person could know the reason
why a dog with this cellular arrangment in the eye and brain seemed better
than another without it at catching prey; we would only know through his
particularly adept performance that he was. In this interior, invisible
way, function is related to head length. It makes perfect sense when
you hear the scientific facts. But, these facts are not actually visible
to us, merely by looking at the dog's head. The real, physical basis for
the traits dogs possess are not intuitively apparent; they cannot be divined
by looking at the exterior alone. But to support the theory that dogs can
be adaquatly assessed by looking at only their exteriors as the show ring
neccessitates, fanciful, silly, and absurd theories are made up as to why
the dog should sport certain physical characteristics. The cart is put
before the horse.
The presence of written standards contributes to this cart-before-horse conception of how dog breeds developed. The written standards were initially simple descriptions, sketchy guides to those who already knew a lot about the kinds of dogs their mentors and associates were describing, from having lived with and worked alongside them. The dogs themselves were developing long before anyone thought to write words about it. The dogs came first; they were not constructed full-blown from a written recipe that somebody thought up beforehand, they did not spring, fully-formed, entirely from the human imagination; though I have read about breeders thinking they themselves personally shaped and altered one single bone within the skull. They gave no explaination as to how, with bones contiguous on all sides with other bones such as those in the skull are, they managed to select for and alter at will the shape of that one bone alone and no other. The borzoi skull has even been described to me as being built, through the sheer force of man's desiring, one bone at a time, bone by intentionally chosen bone. In contradiction to these ideas, research has shown how plastic, and how dependent on surrounding structures, the bones of the skull actually are. When eye size was experimentally altered early in development, the surrounding skull bones adapted to the changes. The bones developed to surround the eyes in the normal way by changing their shapes to accomodate, regardless of what size the eyes were. That through mere selective breeding we can arbitrarily seperate out and control at will the shape of one single skull bone is unlikely at best. Returning to the written standards, the prevaling idea is that we make dogs based on a written standard; that the standard appeared first, and people then bred the dogs to fit it. This idea is so reverently held that no one would want to admit to contradicting it, but in all honesty, does anybody really think we could build a dog from these written"blueprints", as the "standards of perfection" are called? Every breeder I know professes strict adherence to these standards; yet, looking at the multiplicity of results, could anyone tell, just by looking at the dogs produced, whether or not the breeder was breeding "to the standard"? If you read through many standards, especially if you do so without knowing what breed they describe, you soon see how much overlap there is between them, and how unlikely it would be to build a dog breed, with all it's little nooks and cranies of difference and distinctiveness, from such a thing.
To put the horse and cart the right way around, the way to go about selection is to first learn, with humility, what a good dog is, based on how he does at his work; and through learning, to acquire a taste for what makes beauty of the particular kind in question. It's the work of a lifetime. If preservation is the goal, the criteria for good has to stem from the two things we have available: history, and work. Work here means whatever work it was that created the breed's form. History from the past and work from the present have to be the foundation. All the frills, the bells and whistles, can be to anyone's subjective liking, but the foundation must be there. To choose for bells and whistles alone is to make a tiney sound.
The hunting traits that made the borzoi
look as it did are there in the standard; (1972 AKC standard) "The borzoi
was originally bred for the coursing of game on more or less open
terrain, relying on sight rather than scent. To accomplish this purpose,
the Borzoi needed particular structural qualities to chase, catch and hold
his quarry." The problem here, clearly, is knowing what those qualities
actually consist of. Strange fantasy explainations in support of percieved
desireable qualities do not help. The standard continues: "Special emphasis
is placed on sound running gear, strong neck and jaws, courage and agility,
combined with proper condition." Unfortunately, many of these can't be
assessed in the ring, any more than can whether extra size brings with
it the costs of "expense of....speed, and staying quality" warned against
in this written standard.
The people who wrote the first standards, and who adjudicated at the very first dog shows, had a vast practical experience hunting with or herding with their breeds in a working environment. That level of practical experience is almost completely absent today, when most judges are generations removed from any working situation and entirely unfamiliar with the behaviors that caused those they are adjudicating over, to be. But in the early days of dog shows, extensive working experience was assumed to be present in the breeder and exhibitor and judge. That level of experience colored the wording and the assumptions and the judgement of the early fanciers. Soundness, in the days when standards were first being written, meant something different than (though not unrelated to) what we see on the "down and back"; in it's day, it primarily meant not breaking down in the field. "Courage"; "agility"; "proper condition"; these are things of a different era. At the end of the standard is the admonition, "...keeping in mind the importance of the contribution of the various features toward the basic original purpose of the breed."
All these words sound so ideal; but how realistic are they now, when the vast majority of breeders have only been to dog shows and most judges are laughably far from being hunters? How can it be otherwise than that show criteria will predominate under current circumstances; if lots of hair and lots of angulation carries the day, and this seeps across breeds and catagories of dogs, well, how can that not have an effect? The most regrettable aspect, in this narrowing selection process, is that we have come to look at dogs as static beings in a static venue. So much about what makes a dog effective at it's work can't be seen in a static way; physiologic traits such as vascularization, muscle fiber type, speed of reflexes, stride rate, and certainly the aforementioned courage are invisible in the static show setting. The new work of the new dog is to win under rather arbitrary and absolute-leaning criteria in a static and artificial environment.
The show ring assess by stasis; it examines a static picture of the animal. Enter judge and exhibitor; the dog stands. The stance is called the "stack". The dog is usually manipulated into the desired stance, or "stacked", by hand or by training. The desired stance has been arbitrarily selected, and generally involves the rear legs stretching out far behind the dog. This is supposed to look dynamic, but actually it sets the dog up to be unable to move forward easily or naturally, because it is the opposite of collection. To move forward, the dog has to push his feet against the ground, from under his center of gravity and in the opposite direction to the direction his body is to travel in. This means he needs to push back, to go forward. Only, if his legs are already stretched as far behind him as they will go, he cannot push back, so he has to take a step forward with his hind legs first, while his front legs stand still waiting for the rear to catch up, or be collected into a position from which movement can take place. The dog must get his hind legs into a position beneath him from which he can push back, move forward.
Next, the dog is moved by the handler. The stacked dogs often have to take a funny little extra hop-step with their rear legs, in order to collect them into normal juxtaposition to the body so they can start to move forward. The funny little hop-step is taken, no one seems to notice it, and now the dog is trotted away from the judge, then trotted back toward the judge. Then he is trotted around the ring. Then he is again stacked. Stand. Down and back. Around. Stand.
The real dog does not make his appearance at a dog show. It is not possible for him to do so, within the static confines of stand, up and back, around. Even obedience winners can end their lives by euthanasia for behavioral problems; this is because of the static nature of the requirements. The dog can manage them, but they are removed from life. The real animal is elsewhere. He lives in the home with the family; at home on the farm; in the city; in the kennel; at home suffering in his body, if he is one of many who inherit disease. He dreams of his work. The real aninmal evolved long ago to fill ecologic spaces; evolved to observe, read, interpret man better than his wild ancestors did, to take advantage of what he could gain by inserting himself near man, partnering with man. The real animal evolved to behave. He survived on the basis of his behavior; sled dog, hound dog, sheep dog, pet dog. He was not trained by excruciatingly convolted effort. He was born to fit in; he behaved. The world of stand, down, back, and around is comprised of people standing in place, looking with eyes alone at a dog who is also essentially standing in place, restricted from behaving. This is a static world. Life and the reality of dogs occurs dynamically, with dogs embedded in the world and behaving.
There is a great deal we do not know
about how our dogs actually work, and what they actually consist of. This
is because selection was simply toward what worked best, and it would be
almost impossible for us to know how to actually construct what worked
best from scratch. Research by Lieberman et al, "Optimization of bone growth
and remodeling in response to loading in tapered mammalian limbs", published
in 2003 in The Journal of Experimental Biology, shows that the more young
animals run, the heavier their proximal (close to the body) bones develop
to be, and the lighter their distal (far away from the body) extremities
develop to be, reducing the fatigue heavy extremeties would cause. All
cursorial species have the muscle mass close to the body and the distal
limbs lengthened and lightened; they are long for increased stride length
and light to lessen fatigue. We were not cognitively aware, until science
demonstrated it to us, that this remodeling for lightness in the distal
extremities which occurs when puppies are allowed free play gains efficiency
for them; yet the cursoreal hounds developed this just the same without
our knowledge. The past dogs in the old borzoi pictures exhibit the light
extremeties which are required for fast running animals.
More open joint angles increase limb length. This is illustrated by two drawings from Animal Locomotion, published in 1968, by Sir James Gray. The drawings in his book show limbs of the same length, held at different angles by the connective tissues. The author is explaining stresses on joints and how they change at different angles, with the bone lengths held constant. In the illustration where the animal is crouching, there are sharper angles at the joints, and the whole body is carried lower to the ground, though the limb bones are the same length as in the other illustration. In the illustration where the animal is standing more upright with more open joint angles, the caption reads: "By extending the knees, elbows, hip and shoulder joints the strain on the extensors of all these joints is reduced and the effective length of the limbs is increased." The effective limb length is increased with more open joint angles. This structure is similar to the more open angles seen in the borzoi in these old pictures in the Blue Book. The mention of the reduced stress on the joints with more open angles is worth noting. I think we can all appreciate the strain of increasing angulation in the stance of the German sherherd dog. Their attempts to shift of their weight forward, shown by their forward lean and by kyphosis of the spine, are an effort to take weight off the strained, over-angulated rear. So much for "tons of angles". On the other side, with virtually no angles, stands the show-bred Chow, sporting stick-straight hocks, short leg bones, and slipping patellas. Between these, or, more likely, elsewhere entirely, a sighthound stands high on long legs held at open angles by taut tendons. Tall, long, open-angled; in a word: Straight. Perhaps, new heresy from old photographs, "Straight is Beautiful". At the least, it is not automatically incorrect; how beautiful it is all depends on how it works within the system that is the complete body of the dog, with that body set within the further system which is the dog's environment.
The previously mentioned anatomy of our dogs' visual structures has recently come to light. A paper by Greevy et al, published in Brain, Behavior and Evolution in 2004, is titled "A Strong Correlation Exists between the Distribution of Retinal Ganglion Cells and Nose Length in the Dog." Their research shows that as muzzle length increases, the cell distribution found in the eye changes; the longer the nose, the more vision cells are distributed in a horizontally aligned visual streak, enabling a wide field of view. This type of eye is also found in the wolf. The shorter the nose, the more the visual cells are concentrated in a central area with no streak, found in short-nosed, frontal-eyed dogs such as pugs.
The authors ask, "Why then have we spent a considerable period of time during the last few thousand years repeatedly breeding dogs with a short face and more frontally placed eyes? Perhaps because the shorter nose gives them a more human-like appearance, but perhaps it also results in behavioral changes so that these breeds are less likely to act like a running predator and hunt in packs and are more likely to be able to focus on human faces, using their area centralis." Looking directly into people's faces is of benefit for this dog, because it pleases those they live with. They have every need to please by their expressions, and no need to search the horizon for game to chase. The reverse would be true for sighthound selection, based on behavior as well. So much for using the nose to sight down like a gun barrel.
The authors above explain the intimate relationship of external anatomic to internal physiologic features: "It is an unexpected and interesting finding that producing a wide variation in body shape also leads to a wide variation in neuronal mapping at least in the retina [Peichl, 1992]. However, it is important to note that this variation is not random, but is highly correlated with a change in an anatomical feature, nose length."
They also found that as the skull width to skull length ratio decreased, that is, in narrower skulls, the eyelid aperture angle increased, so the eyes became less frontal and set more to the side of the skull. So here is the mechanism of the long narrow skull shape; it developed because of the visual qualities it conferred on the sight-hunter of a horizontal visual streak adept at picking out movement over a wide expanse, and a large eyelid aperture angle so the eye had a wide field of view, the trade-off being a smaller area of binocular vision directly in front of the dog. This is a wonderful example of the marraige between work and the evolving structure of our dogs. The dogs were selected for their behavior; the anatomy enabling progressive enhancement of the behavior followed.
There is even evidence in the greyhound of a difference between it and the basal dog population in packed cell volume and platelet ratios, with the greyhound having an increased level of the red blood cells so important in oxygen transport for the sprinter; also, it's red blood cell membranes have been found to be thinner than those in the average dog, facilitating faster oxygen exchange. Muscle fiber speeds, vascularization (the chyornay massa the Russian's valued), packed cell volumes, red cell membrane thickness, eye ganglion cells; these aspects of the running dog are not ones we will ever see, in the show ring; nor are they ones humans ever consciously selected for. They are the unseen and unsung qualities, selected for over millenia because their bearers were better at their work. And there are many more, selected for by work, that we are not yet aware of, and many science may never stumble upon. Their existance shows how dynamically related to behavior the evolution of these breeds was, and stands in large contrast to how static show selection cannot help but be. Head shape, eyeset, leg length, muscle type, even qualities of the blood itself; shaped and re-shaped, sharpened and refined by work, converging on the point of purpose; that is the dynamic evolution that gave us the animal we inherited.
Coppinger, in "Biological Basis of Behavior of Domestic Dog Breeds," by R. Coppinger Phd., L. Coppinger, AB, MS, Readings in Companion Animal Behavior, 9-18, 1996, explains this important distinction. "Behavior is the functional component of evolutionary change. How well an animal runs is the selective force, not its legs. Paleontologists study the evolution of hard parts because those are what fossilize. Studying changes in femur lengths, however, leads to the misconception that it is legs that evolved, rather than running or jumping." This concept is at the heart of the matter; it is the reason why the show ring process, fun though it may be to engage in, will always be inherently, and fatally, flawed; because it proceeds from the basis of looking rather than doing, and it assumes that looking rather than doing will build an animal that can do. It arrogantly assumes we know all there is to know about what goes into creating that animal. It tries to think it can go about building an animal from the wrong end of the process that built all the breeds.
By crossing over into traits associated with other dogs' lines of work, such as shorter legs, more rear angulation, and heavy rather than bladed bone at the distal extremities in the case of the sighthounds, we may find our dogs less able to perform their original work. We will, inevitably, lose traits we don't even know we have, interior traits, dynamic traits. How are external characteristics actually related to interior ones invisible to our eyes? How will change affect the temperament, the carraige, the gestalt of the animal? That change, from the specialized to the generic, will come at an aesthetic as well as a practical price.
So; the above is the argument I have
made for myself. It comes from a preservationist point of view, applied
to study of the breed. When by chance a curtain was lifted for me on a
modern world in which my creatures no longer have a place, and in which
they are by their nature unhappy, I felt as if I had been struck in a collision.
I was experiencing the proverbial time "when everything you know is wrong
and all your friends are dead." It knocked the breathe and the certainty
right out of me, along with the desire to breed borzoi any longer. I recognized
the unsuitability of my dream for the breed within the modern world, but
was not about to replace that with what I saw the new dream to be; better
for me not to have any borzoi at all. I visualize my hunters, slim as arabesques,
running in the high sagebrush desert. I see their lively intense behavior
as they search for game. They respond to the slightest rustle of the bushes,
to the least movement of the grass, alert to the possibilities. They are
dynamic, collected, ready to spring in any direction on the instant. They
are able to maintain this level of concentration all day long. All alive;
intense concentrated life fills their eyes, their ears, their taut muscles
ready to spring. Athletic. Energetic. Raptorial. Predatory. Oh so capable.
This is my love. This is my conception of my breed, arrived at after a
lifetime of learning about them. This is what ran into a wall in a garden
I was in Poland to purchase a borzoi bitch, and to see the country of my ancestors. I drove with my hostess to the Hungarian town of Erd near Budapest, to see a newborn litter sired by her male. We drove all night, arriving exhausted at daybreak to be greeted by our Hungarian hostess, who was standing weary at the window, having been up all night delivering the litter. We visited with the new puppies, made a brief kennel tour, visited with the adult dogs in residence, the dogs were turned out into the dog's garden, and everyone went to bed. But I wasn't sleepy, and I had a good view of the dog yard, so I watched the dogs from a window in the house.
It was a soft grey day, gentle and humid. The human part of the garden was beautifully kept, and there were huge, perfect apples on the tree. The first thing I had noticed, on seeing the dogs, was how bulky they were; everything about them was bulky. They were tall. They had big hair. They had big round legs. They had big round feet. They were friendly; they were lethargic; they were placid as cows in their pasture. There was no feel of musculature under their hair. The securely fenced dog yard was of good size, probably an acre or so. The dogs were of various popular European lineages containing many World Winners, meaning they did very well in the show ring. They were mostly white with large dark greyish or dark brownish saddles or patches, except for one, who was completely light gold. This young gold bitch was the product of an outcross incorporating Russian lines. She was lighty coated as befit the season, and was less bulky in appearance than the others. She had visible muscles, long dry tapering legs, and a finely veined face. She looked nothing like her kennelmates. After a bit of perambulation along the fence near the house, the grey ones all lay down, sleeping or occassionally looking at something from their recumbant positions. They rarely moved more than their heads.
Meanwhile, the gold girl was watching everything. She watched the birds. She watched the little dachsund dog as it moved around on the other side of the fence. She watched the neighbor dogs. And every time she watched something, she got up and went toward it. She watched me in the window; not another dog noticed me there. She tried to come toward me to visit; then, unable to do that, she went back into the yard; she tried to wake somebody up to play. No avail there; so she went as close to the birds as she could get, watching. Ah, the dachsund; she followed along on her side of the fence, wanting to play with him; but seperated by the fence, again it was to no avail.
She was stuck there. I felt for her; she had such a sense of wanting to live, to see, to do, to interact with the world; to have her life. I too was sleepless; we were the only ones awake in a slumbering world. I thought about her life. This wasn't just today; this was her every day. Every day, she looks with hope at the world outside her garden fence. Every day, she wants to go running, to go hunting, to play. And every day, there is no opportunity for her to do these things, every day stretching into the infinity of all her days on earth. She will be taken to dog shows; she will trot at the side of her handler around a small ring, and if some judge or other points to her, her owner will get a prize. She will go home to the garden. In my heart I wanted to buy her and take her away from here and into the desert; how she would have loved it there.
In the afternoon, after a morning filled with wishfulness on the part of the gold girl borzoi, everyone woke up, and we ate, deliciously, substantially. My Polish friend mentioned to our Hungarian hostess that I hunted with my dogs in the United States. She grimaced in distaste. Hunting with dogs is illegal in Eastern Europe, and impossible as well. Nowhere is there the desolate emptiness required by coursing and coursing hounds. Everything is small, divided, civilized, cultivated, comfortable, controlled; every space taken up. Nowhere can the eye rest without it being filled by human activity. After eating, we spent hours pouring over many photo books, spread out to cover the large kitchen table, filled with pictures of the hostess's dogs. There were also a great many outsized enlargements on the walls around the kitchen and the house. In every single photo without fail, the dogs were inside a show ring, the handlers being given their prizes by the judges. My heart greyed and cried out in sorrow for the gold bitch.
So that is how my beliefs collided
with reality in a garden in Hungary. This gold dog will never be
able to do what she was born for; never, not even once. She will hope and
hope until hope fades and her body grows too old to do what she once so
Meanwhile, the yaks lay contentedly on the ground, inert and happily so. These dogs who so resemble blankets are happy in their garden. They have no desire to use even the full extent of it; happy to lay nearest to the gate back to their kennel. They have no hunter's body, and they have no hunter's heart and mind. They have no desire, no mental desire and no physical desire, to move those heavy round limbs ending with heavy round feet, in anything resembling a sighthound's way. They are suitable, the best fit for their situation. They are perfect here, in this tame place, with their domesticity, with their show-ring-selected bodies and minds. They are the products of static selection, based on static appearance and on somebody's ideas of what must be the right thing for this breed to look like. The plush silky coat is gone, replaced by yak hair; the muscles, cut with definition and tendons hard as cables, are gone, a bland flat smoothness taking the place of sharp-cut convexity; the bladed tapering limbs, ending in feet so fine you can see the veins feeding them and the tendons working them and the details of the joints, these are all gone, exchanged for hairy round balls. Hair on the head and extremeties fine like a mouse's; this, from an early breed description, is gone. And the behavior is gone as well. The hunter's attentiveness, living all in their eyes and ears, alert scanners of the horizon; gone.
They have evolved. Under static selection, where hunting is an aberration, where trips to the dog show are the only outing they will have, they are the output of evolution toward a domestic dog who resembles a borzoi. They are facsimiles. They are happy here, eating their commercial foods, sleeping their undisturbed sleep, living through entire lives in this garden. They do not suffer frustration and disappointment. They will never grow bored and restless, they will never crave to be on the other side of this fence, to go, to run as hard as their muscles and bones and lungs can manage, to hunt, to feel the fast warm fur in predatory teeth. Their hearts do not long to stretch out light limbs over large empty spaces. The borzoi as I have tried to understand it, as I have striven to breed it, is completely missplaced here. And here is all there is; this is what the world will be, ever more crowded, ever more restricted, ever more domesticated. It is the gold girl who suffers here.
It is the gold girl who is the borzoi, the only borzoi, in the garden.