Uga (pronounced UH-geh) VII, The University of Georgia's beloved and hereditary mascot, has died at the hardly-mor'n-a-pup age of 4 years. By (capital B, no modifying adjective) Bulldog standards, he was gorgeous... But Bulldog standards are the problem.
http://www.akc.org/breeds/bulldog/index.cfm Note how extremeness is built into the show ideal. Callous human conceit from the showdog world deformed the original, functional bulldog into a collection of unhealthy, cartoonish exaggerations that have caused untold misery for the animals--and their sympathetic owners, the latter of whom, unless they were rescue-adopters, came to grievous lessons in the mistakenness of perpetuating signal deformity. At overlong last, responsible efforts are being made to correct these sources of affliction and grotesquery:
Several attempts have been made successfully, and continue to be made, of restoring the original, healthy bulldog type. Some can be found perusing breed links found here:
It's easy, seeing winsome pictures of dogs and cats with short legs and concaved noses, to understand some of the urge we humans have to DEFORM (that's what it truly IS) animals in ways that make them seem more endearing to us--like (breeding to perpetuate) achondroplastic dwarfism, which gives them a pseudo-babyish physiognomy, or other mutations that have served more functional purposes. Some of these selectively bred mutations are harmless, or even truly helpful to the domestic creature as well as to human wants. There are wild canids and felids and other carnivores with short legs. Whether the domesticated species ought to have them when their nearest wild relatives do not is at least questionable--though recognized histories of breed problems with such things should never be trivialized. There is also a kind of latent intelligent design that morphologically relates to selectively breeding wild species for a calm, friendly (thus domesticable) disposition:
But, when mutation and other breeding practices obviously have resulted in building ill health (including psychological ill health) INTO breeds, we should stop perpetuating those breeds, at least in the same unhealthy form.
The Ugas have been darlings, as have innumerable misshapen individuals, God bless 'em all. The Elephant Man was sweet and saintly, but arncha glad he didn't add to the gene pool! If his deformities were 'cute' but caused him as much affliction, the same principles should apply... And apply to animals, too.
We must stop breeding animals to have miserable lives (however nobly thy may bear them!) on account of our own conceits. I hope and pray that the University and the Sieler family will set a good example and choose the next Uga from one of the classically formed bulldog breeds. The Peachtree State even has its own breed: The Antebellum Bulldog!