From the Mountains to the Sea

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Man has had ties to the dog for centuries, and throughout history, ideological, economic and philosophical trends have all been reflected in the growing appreciation for dogs, purebred dogs in particular. Sentimental attitudes about pets, which we take for granted today, are traceable to the influence of Romanticism in art and literature which emerged in the late 18th century.

The Romantic movement was partly a reaction against the previous century’s Age of Reason, when rational thought was believed to be the key to universal truth, as opposed to the Romantic’s view that feeling and emotions represent truth. Thanks to Romanticism, the admiration for nature and exotic lands became major themes of popular culture.

Romanticism also coincided with the earliest government efforts to implement laws against animal cruelty. The idea that animals had feelings was a direct contradiction to the beliefs of previous centuries. Although these parliamentary debates didn’t result in actual laws until 1838, the concept was enthusiastically embraced by Victorians, who carried it to an extreme by anthropomorphizing animals, saddling them with human morals and treating them as idealized symbols of virtue and morality.

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