Why Can't People Be More Like Dogs?

Les AuCoin By Les AuCoin, 6th Jul 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Pets>Dogs

Animals are beings that deserve the same level of ethical treatment as humans.

We Owe An Ethical Duty to an Animal Such as Our Dog

A recent story out of Alaska's outback, about a dog that saved his master's life after a snowmobile crash, made me recall a discussion in an Environmental Ethics honors seminar I taught at Southern Oregon University a decade ago. It centered on our ethical "duty"--yours and mine--to an animal such as a dog. Is the creature a "sentient" being, able to perceive and feel like a human? If so, is our ethical duty equal to our ethical obligations to humankind?

Several students, filled with GPA-earned self-regard, would not budge from the 19th Century philosophy of Emmanuel Kant. The philosopher who famously held that the lesser status of animals demands of us a lesser ethical duty than we would accord fellow humans. To wit,

far as animals are concerned, we have no direct duties. Animals are not self-conscious and are there merely as the means to an end. That end is man.”

Cut to the story out of Alaska, and the man injured and immobilized in Alaska's outback. The story's right here.

Amber, a two-year-old golden retriever, snuggled up to his owner throughout the long night to keep him warm. The next morning, Amber went barking after other snowmobilers, and led them to where her master lay with two dislocated arms and an injured neck.

Soon the victim was helicoptered to Anchorage's Providence Alaska Medical Center. He credited Amber for saving his life.

Somewhere, some of my former students may have read this story in the newspaper. If they hadn't outgrown Kant, I hope they will now.

The world would be a better place if some humans possessed the sentience of a good dog.


Animal Behaviour, Animal Facts, Dogs, Dogs Story, Dogsled, Ethics, Ethics And Compassion, Humans, Pets, Rescue

Meet the author

author avatar Les AuCoin
A retired US congressman & 45-year award-winning journalist, my work has run in the Washington Post, the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Oregonian, Stars & Stripes and other major publications.

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author avatar Robin Reichert
9th Jul 2014 (#)

Good article! From lots of personal experience, I truly believe that dogs CAN feel & perceive like a human. I've also read many stories of dogs saving their loved ones, and even strangers!
Can't wait to read more of your articles. :-)

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author avatar AjaySinghChauhan
26th Oct 2014 (#)

good post very useful and informative. Thanks for sharing your ideas with us.

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