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Dog + Man: From The Odyssey to Beginners
Updated May 23, 2011
In Beginners, the dog Arthur and the human Oliver create an emotional bond that echoes back all the way to Homer.
Arthur + Oliver
Dogs haven’t always held the top place in human affection. Earlier this year, archaeologists reported that they had found a grave in northern Jordan in which a man had been buried with his pet fox 16,000 years ago. The first dogs—genetically domesticated wolves—arrived on the scene 4,000 years later and foxes became a passing fad. And while this special relationship between two species has endured for centuries, it remains as mysterious, powerful and controversial as ever. While there is increasing rise in dogs/human companions, especially in the United States and Western Europe, there has also been a steady increase in cruelty and abandonment. Iran recently put forth a bill that would ban dog ownership for religious and cultural reasons. Others, like those in the animal rights movement, question dog “ownership” as an ethical issue. But nevertheless, as the relation between Arthur (Cosmo) and Oliver (Ewan McGregor) in Beginners so lyrically dramatizes, there remains some thing strange and beautiful in the way human beings and dogs try to coordinate their confusing lives around each other. As a tribute to that enigmatic connection represented in Beginners, we consider some of the most stirring examples of Dog + Man throughout history.