Presented by: Justyna Wlodarczyk

The past 25 years, that is the period after the fall of communism in Poland, have witnessed significant changes in the human-canine bond. A myriad of sports events involving humans and canines together have also emerged in the same time period: from agility to Frisbee, dogtrekking to mantrailing. The paper argues that the emergence of these sports in the past two decades is not coincidental but is tied to transformations of the human-canine bond typical for western postindustrial societies. The paper additionally ties the emergence of canine performance events to the development of capitalism and democracy in Poland by comparing the traditional canine-related activities of the socialist era (primarily: obedience trials, “protection dog” trials and field trials) with the new types of activities. While the rulebooks of the traditional activities define their purpose as demonstrating dog’s usefulness to man, the new activities – self-defined as sports – are described as primarily fun for both the human and the canine; and their primary goal is defined as fulfilling the dog’s natural needs and instincts in an urban setting.