By Marina Muñoz Arre, Veterinary Assistant at the GAAP clinic.
The concept of beauty has been a recurring theme throughout human history. We’ve always had beauty standards to follow, ideals of perfection, images and portraits that represent a time, a context and a particular idea of what is considered “aesthetically perfect”. But, what do we understand as “aesthetics”? In academic terms, we’re talking about a philosophical theory of formal beauty and in simple terms, it refers to the external appearance of beings or things.
Aesthetics have influenced many areas in our daily lives. Society, as a whole, serves as both witness and example of this. Aesthetic is constantly evolving and changing over time. Currently, images and ideas about what is beautiful come from the media. It encourages and motivate us to change our style and innovate our appearance, so that we [as humans] project a certain image.
Throughout history, people have come to realize the importance of how we look because, in a way, it is a reflection of how we feel. The way in which people perceive and value appearances has become so important in the last decades, it has even entered into the animal world through dog grooming.
The relationship between dogs and humans is ancient; both have needed, helped and served one another for thousands of years. There are plenty of hypothesis that try to explain how this collaboration began, but the most widely accepted one says that dogs first approached humans, essentially, hoping to take advantage of a kill left overs. Later, humans used dogs’ hunting abilities to their advantage. Due to this mutualistic relationship, people started caring for and about their “new found friends”, thus beginning to worry about the animal’s hygiene and health.
It was during the modern era that dogs started to really look like a companion and an accessory to their owners. Then later, in more contemporary times, and with the rise of the bourgeoisie as a new social class, important changes regarding pet ownership emerged, giving more relevance and importance to pets’ existence, function and image. This is where the basics of canine aesthetic and dog shows were founded.
But, when did dog grooming become a formal practice? The second industrial revolution was key in the growth of canine aesthetic. It is during the 1920’s that the concept, and the later development of dog grooming became more widely known and accepted. During the 60’s, as new dog breeds emerged, more people sought out the help of canine beauty and health experts.
Canine aesthetic isn’t important purely because of the way our pet looks, but because of how vital the process of hygiene and its consequences can be for an animal. This is why the grooming service has grown to include ear cleaning, nail trimming and anal glands drainage.
Taking one’s dog to the groomer implies an external change, but if we also consider all these new elements in the trade, we can conclude that a groomer’s job goes well beyond that of caring just for the pet’s looks. A groomer’s work can prevent ear infections, and identify parasites and skin issues, among other common dog health issues.
It is important to understand that dog grooming isn’t just about looks. For some dog breeds, grooming can be a critical and the responsibility lies with the owners. Responsible pet ownership means tending to the needs of our pets, and not all pets have the same grooming needs. When we choose to adopt a dog, we have to take every single one of the dog’s particular needs into consideration. Therefore, if the dog we’re adopting requires regular grooming, we then have to be willing to be responsible for that as well.
Being a responsible owner is a real and serious commitment that not only affects our pet’s well-being, but our family’s too. This is why being responsible for our pet’s needs is so important; it’s about the balance and the bond between us and our pet, as well as being aware that improving their quality of life, also means improving our own.