My Human

Humans and dogs have lived together for thousands of years. Evolving from wild pack animals, dogs have become invaluable to humans and most now live in symbiotic relationships. During this time breeding and crossbreeding has allowed human beings to ‘manufacture’ dogs to the specific roles required by their owners.

More commonly now, dogs have the role of companion and what were once ‘working dogs’ now live side by side with their humans. There are however a few breeds that continue to ‘work’ or to be used as a commodity to human advantage.

Tracy’s work focuses on the sighthound, a dog that is symbolic of racing, coursing, hunting, poaching and baiting. The classification of sighthounds or gazehounds includes Afghan hounds, Italian Greyhounds, Whippets, Greyhounds, Borzois, Salukis, Wolfhounds, Lurchers and Galgos. These dogs are put to work, usually for financial gain, and once they fail to perform to their required level they are discarded. Their fate, breeding, baiting, sent to Chinese dog meat markets, some disappear with no trace but many, many more are euthanised.

Tireless campaigning has highlighted these barbaric practices and raised concerns regarding their welfare and wellbeing. Also called into the question is our right to behave in this way. Justification is presented as ‘this is what they are bred to do’ – but who says so? Does that make it acceptable? What gives us the right to exploit them for financial gain and entertainment?

These graceful, elegant dogs once inspired famous portrait artists who’s noble and aristocratic owners would commission portraits of themselves with their hounds. How is it that now we treat them with such distain? Many are kept as prisoners, in appalling conditions with limited or no social interaction.

Following on from the aforementioned portrait artists Tracy has responded to this by engaging with sighthound owners and taking photographic portraits of the hounds with their humans. This work explores the animals and humans’ personalities and ‘back story’ with a view to challenging our behaviour towards a breed of animal which is often overlooked. It questions the motivation to use these dogs in ways that some find unacceptable and call into question the right to do so. 

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