Canis Africanis: A Dog History of Southern Africa by Lance van Sittert, Sandra Swart

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By Lance van Sittert, Sandra Swart

The position of the puppy in human society is the connecting thread that binds the essays in Canis Africanis, every one revealing a distinct a part of the advanced social historical past of southern Africa. The essays diversity broadly from issues over ailment, bestiality, and social degradation via playing on canines to anxieties over social prestige mirrored via breed classifications, and social uprising via resisting the puppy tax imposed via colonial specialists. With its specialize in canine in human historical past, this undertaking is a part of what has been termed the animal flip within the social sciences, which investigates the areas which animals inhabit in human society and how during which animal and human lives interconnect, demonstrating how various human teams build a number identities for themselves (and for others) by way of animals. So rather than conceiving of animals as simply elements of ecological or agricultural platforms, they are often comprehended via their position in human cultures.

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10 African Dogs Distributed all over Africa is a basic variety of dog, generally considered to represent an ancient form. This is a medium-sized, lightly-built animal with a long slender muzzle, usually with a short coat, frequently fawn in colour but varying from white through browns and brindle colouring to black. Within this broad spectrum, there are some regional variations that we think are the result of isolation and a limited degree of deliberate breeding. The degree of variation among traditional dogs in Africa is, however, far less than that seen in Europe or Asia, where selective breeding has a long history and has produced highly differentiated varieties of dog such as the Great Dane and the Pekingese.

The growth of a middle-class dog culture was paralleled by the ongoing containment of the underclass mongrel horde. Urban local authorities continued to employ dog licenses and ‘lethal chambers’ to this end, assisted by the Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCAs) established in all the major urban centres. 104 The number of animals destroyed in the major urban centres rose so alarmingly after 1945 that the Cape Town SPCA stopped disaggregating the statistics in 1951 and publishing them altogether in 1953 (see Figure 5).

S. Hall, ‘Indigenous dogs of southern Africa’, KUSA (Oct. 1994), 420. See also Gallant, ‘Africanis’, 15–16 and Gallant The Story. S. Kay, ‘By the way’, KUSA ( July 1994), 282–3; ‘The African indigenous dog project’, SAKCG (Apr. 1995), 167; and Gallant, ‘Africanis’, 15–16. The AID comprised a small group of archaezoologists, anthropologists and canine entrepreneurs. 94 Hall, ‘African indigenous dog project’, 22. Character and honing by natural selection in a harsh environment were, of course, also the purported attributes of the rehabilitated boer hond a century earlier.

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