Mahatma Gandhi had a point when he claimed that "the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated", but that was before we created Crufts.
That was before Britain elevated its prettiest dogs to the status of human beings and gave them their own beauty competition.
And yet, while we groom our dogs to excess and consign our homeless people to the streets, we find ourselves in the midst of a legal crisis in the countryside over fox-hunting.
We claim to be civilised but we are, to my knowledge, the only living creatures who slaughter other living creatures in the name of sport. We are also the only creatures to buy dogs as Christmas presents and discard then on Boxing Day when the novelty has worn off.
In global terms, Britain treats its animals relatively well. Here, Crufts is an appreciation of everything that is beautiful about dogs. In China, they would be more likely to endorse a dog for its meat, having killed it first, of course. In the Philippines, they put the dog on the spit before killing it.
It was while I lived in China that I was confronted by Shenzhen zoo, about 30 miles north of Hong Kong. I was advised not go because the zoo burns cats alive to entertain the public. I did not see this for myself - I would have been too horrified to watch - but my Rough Guide to China book confirmed the regularity of such a practice.
It has always been a source of concern to me how some people can torture animals for nothing more than curiosity. We have all done it. I once shot a toad at point-blank range, with an air gun, while I was in the Middle East. I was an immature 13-year-old and I have regretted it in the two decades since.
My own attitude to animals changed when I visited the island of Zanzibar in 1996. Having seen the cruelty with which chickens were treated in the markets, I decided to become vegetarian. I would much rather stroke an animal than eat one.
To millions of people all over the world, an animal is rich a source of companionship, and the pet industry is growing - just as the RSPCA is recording increased levels of cruelty.
We seem to be losing the ability to find the right balance. We either hurt our animals too much or treasure them too much. We make sure our pets eat well but we often do not consider the children in Britain living below the poverty line.
How would Gandhi feel about this?
In the Recoletta district of Buenos Aires, where Eva Per - n is buried, and where tramps beg for the crumbs of the rich, you will find people walking up to a dozen dogs each. Dog-walking as a profession has become fashionable in Argentina. So, too, has begging. It seems that people are doing one or the other.
In Britain, we like to moralise about how well we treat our animals compared to other countries. But this is the country where we import tropical birds, knowing that most of them are suffocating on the flight over.
We take our children to zoos in the name of education but do not seem to concern ourselves with the moral question of whether these animals would be better off in their natural environment.
That is perhaps one reason why pet shops are not necessarily places where animals seem to thrive. The sight of caged birds is not edifying, just as stuffing rabbits into a small hutch seems unethical.
Crufts is the opposite extreme. Here, dogs have inadvertently discovered a world where opulence rules and where attention is constant. Many humans can only dream of such treatment.
Fortunately, as Mark Twain famously said, "if you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man".