A new relationship with animals, nature and each other.

Whose Side are the Dogs On?

Maybe he was thinking that as part of its budget-cutting austerity measures, the Greek government would neuter its spay/neuter programs for the stray dogs of Athens.

A street dog himself, Kanellos sports a blue collar – the sign that he’s been picked up, neutered, and returned to the street where he lives.

But then, a couple of months ago, the street riots started. And Kanellos decided to join in. Perhaps he just thinks it’s a fun way to spend the day. But wait: Why does he always stay on the side of the protestors, and never on the side of the police? He knows people from both sides.

Kanellos now has his own page on Facebook.

He’s also now become a topic of discussion among psychologists – among them Charles Kelley, a neo-Freudian dog trainer who has a blog, “My Puppy, My Self” on the magazine site Psychology Today. Kelley raises a number of questions about what Kanellos and other street dogs have been doing at these riots:

If dogs tend to follow strong authority figures – alpha males – why does Kanellos always side with the protestors, not with the police?

Dogs usually avoid what they’re afraid of. So, since they get very frightened when the police use stun grenades, why do they keep coming back?

Do the dogs see the police as “prey” since the protestors tend to be more lively and active – more like predators?

Is the answer to be found in Freudian theories of the “id” (our unconscious impulses) and the “ego” (our conscious governors)? Freud believed that every society has its id (which often rises to the surface in crowd behavior – e.g. riots and football matches), and its ego (most clearly represented by the government). Dogs, according to the ego/id notion, are predominantly “id”, so they would naturally join the more id-like pack – the protestors.

You can check out Kelley’s analysis on this blog post.

Note: There’s some uncertainty over whether Kanellos is still alive. Some of his street friends say he died a year or two ago and that the dog in the photos is someone else. No one knows for sure. Whatever the case, the story and the questions still stand.