Sunday, March 28, 2010

Chihuahua Despair, Akita Devotion

Linda Christian with her green-eyed Chihuahua, from frankphotos.

From the History of Science journal Endeavour comes the paper The nature of suicide: science and the self-destructive animal. It gives examples of reported animal suicide, including these from the 19th century:
  • A "a fine, handsome and valuable black dog of the Newfoundland species" that drowned itself in 1845.
  • A canvasback duck that drowned itself after its mate died.
  • A cat that hanged itself following the death of its litter.
  • A horse that jumped into a canal after years of mistreatment.
  • Dogs that starved themselves on the graves of their masters.
I contribute an anecdote I ran across recently regarding Linda Christian (pictured above): actress, wife of Tyrone Power, and curator of a turbulent personal life:
"June 1964 her pet Chihuahua, jealous over the missing attention he receives over the bullfighters, jumps to his death from her terrace."
Poor grammar, I know, but you understand what the writer's getting at. Jilting a pet is bad enough, but with professional animal torturers?

[Lest this post about Linda Christian's chihuahua be considered just more of the currently fashionable Christian-bashing over "petty gossip," I must admit that the Chihuahua story verges on the sensational.]

On a more positive note, not all tales of the "human fails animal" genre end in suicide: some are uplifting. If you haven't heard of the loyal Hachikō (from which at least two feature films have been made including a recent one by Lasse Hallström), then you may want to read about the touching behavior of this extraordinary Akita.

For the record I prefer dopey but basically sensible larger dogs: herders; hounds; and retrievers, especially Labs. Hardly ever suicidal.

Thanks to Mind Hacks for pointing to the journal article which is informative and thoughtful, and which I am not attempting to do justice.

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