Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Taking UN reps for a 'walkie' key to world peace

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I may not know a lot about modern art, but I know what makes my tail wag.

And it was wagging a lot when I heard about a wildly creative performance art piece that made its Canadian debut at Toronto's Harbourfront Centre last Thursday in front of an appreciative, albeit confused, crowd of about 300 spectators.

I am referring here to Dachshund UN, an art installation wherein world leaders are replaced by wiener dogs in a miniature version of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

Seriously. Instead of dogs playing poker, this work, which wrapped up Sunday, consisted of 36 dachshunds and their volunteer owners filling in for UN representatives from the U.S., France, Germany, Zambia, Senegal and other nations.

In Toronto, the wiener dogs, sitting behind little signs bearing the names of the countries they represented, spent about 50 minutes snoozing, chasing their tails, attempting to mount one another and yipping and yapping at anything that moved.

So, as far as anyone could tell, it was identical to an actual meeting of the human version of the UN Commission on Human Rights, which I assume was the artistic point.

Australian artist Bennett Miller told reporters he whipped up the wiener dog work to, quote, "question humanity's potential for creating a universal justice system."

Everybody got that? Good! According to news reports, Miller used wiener dogs because "their racial variety of red, black, tanned, short-hair and long-hair makes them (as diverse as humanity) and is similar to a United Nations meeting."

The important thing is, as the owner of a long-haired miniature dachshund, I agree the world would be much better off if, instead of humans, wiener dogs resolved our critical political issues, such as...

1) International terrorism -- The current approach among human UN representatives is to sit around, day after day, wringing their hands, blaming everyone else and blathering on in monotonous tones until everyone on the commission lapses into a coma.

Dachshunds, however, would take a more direct approach to dealing with this global scourge. First, they would root through the garbage to ensure it doesn't contain anything potentially harmful, such as a leftover sandwich or used Kleenex, then they would chew on it for a while before -- and don't try to tell me this would not make everyone feel safer -- burying the problem in a freshly dug hole in the back yard.

2) Bringing peace to strife-torn regions around the globe -- Again, the current human UN approach basically involves talking endlessly and, every once in a while, dispatching teams of peacekeepers to stand around in blue helmets.

Whereas wiener dogs would bring bravely opposing forces together via the time-tested method of "going for walkies" and, in extreme cases, "going for a nice car ride." Also, no one would get a cookie or a belly rub if they didn't play nice.

So I think we can all agree the world would be a much gentler place if wiener dogs really were put in charge of the United Nations. Think about it: The threat of nuclear annihilation would vanish because, as it says on my favorite coffee mug, wiener dogs "never bite when a growl will do."

Sure, there would be chaos whenever someone rang the doorbell at the UN or when the postman arrived, and it might get nasty if Cuba deposited an unexpected gift on China's seat, but, for the most part, there is almost no downside to replacing human beings with yappy little dogs.

Except it wouldn't be safe to let them ride in motorcades, because, unlike most world leaders, they really love to stick their heads out the window.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 4, 2013 A2

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