Puppy Love


A reader’s letter recently arrived affixed with a stamp bearing a close up of a Hungarian Vizsla, a handsome brown hunting dog, looking at me with doleful eyes. In the background was a proud Vizsla standing by its master, a moustachioed hunter in his de rigueur camouflage gear and bright orange waistcoat and hat.


The bright orange colour defeats the purpose of wearing the camouflage gear somewhat but it does have its usefulness in protecting its wearer from shots fired by fellow hunters, by alerting them that the creature rustling in the bushes is probably a lot bigger than a hare or wood-pigeon. That said, Dick Cheney might still possibly have a problem telling the difference.


I am not sure what the stamp is trying to convey. Perhaps it forms part of a collection called “Hunting Dogs of Cyprus”, celebrating the trusty pooches that are so vital to our national pastime. And don’t tell me that our national pastime is football, because more people in Cyprus hunt than play football (although, understandably, hunting isn’t as popular as a spectator sport).


Perhaps the Post Office has run out of famous people, ancient artefacts and native flowers to put on its stamps, or maybe they feel that one of the nation’s favourite activities deserves a postage stamp commemorating it, in which case I suppose we should have stamps showing souvla-making next.


Or maybe the stamp wants to show how much we love dogs in Cyprus. And we really do, don’t we?


This is how much we love them: We love them so much that it is not uncommon for dogs to be chained to walls or trees and provided with just a bowlful of tepid water every few days.


We love them so much that you will often see a dog in a small, unsheltered area without protection from the burning summer sun or the torrential rains of winter, gathering dust and fleas until its short, sad life is over.


We love them so much that a group of soldiers set fire to a dog recently and watched it die as they filmed the whole thing on their mobile phones. The clip was circulated from phone to phone. This is how much we love dogs in this country.


I wouldn’t wish this kind of love on anyone. I think dogs too would rather do without it. And all the postage stamps in the world won’t change that.    


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