Saturday, 15 January 2011

Another breastfeeding debate.

Those of you who who have children and frequent certain parenting forums will probably be aware of a recurring debate that usually ends in someone's tears: The great Breastfeeding debate. ( It needs a capital letter, believe me!)
But a couple of examples of a different angle to this debate have come to my attention over the last month. Both feature a human breastfeeding a dog, so if you feel very strongly that this is completely abhorrent rather than just a little weird, don't bother clicking on the links. I'll blog about something less controversial next time, I promise!

The first is a charity calender that features a lingerie clad model appearing to breastfeed a rather sleepy looking puppy. You can't see any astonishing anatomical landmarks that don't feature commonly in the weekend papers, but I do admit to finding this image a little disturbing.

The second is an article from a publication that I wasn't aware existed until it the link started popping up all over my Facebook news feed. It is probably the kind of story that you shouldn't really be surprised to find in a this kind of magazine but there are been a collective intake of virtual breath among my friends. I do agree it seems 'wrong' but I wasn't sure why I was having the kind of reaction I did, so have spent some time trying to work it out.

I have decided that I don't think it's necessarily Wrong but it's really not right either.

My main objection is that is perpetuates the idea of treating dogs as babies. Any Dog Rescue or dog behaviorist will happily tell you what a bad idea this is. The message given out to people should be that dogs are dogs, and need to be treated as such. Not because you have to show them who is the 'Alpha dog' or any of rubbishy dominance theories that are floating around, but simply because they do best when they are treated like dogs. Dogs that are treated like babies; carried about, dressed up, fed inappropriate food and not socialised or trained properly often become aggressive and unpleasant to have around as they have none of the boundaries that help produce a secure and happy pet dog.
It is just not necessary for a woman to breastfeed her dog. Of course if the dog was starving, then there may be no option but it seems an odd sort of relationship to choose to have with your pet dog, especially once the child the milk was intended for has stopped nursing.
I'm also not sure about the hygiene issues of feeding a baby and a pet, let alone how the dog in the second story will react when she has to share her food source again...
Lastly there is the question of the damage a dog's teeth could do to a breast, if things went wrong. I suppose it would make for a good story for the staff at A & E!

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