May 14, 2006

Out Damn Spot! And Fluffy! And Rover!

I was raised in a pet-less family. Oh, we had our occasional goldfish, and even had a little, tiny turtle we named Pokey, but they didn’t last long. We found the goldfish belly up, and on the day we put Pokey out for some air and he ended up being fried in the midday sun. These small pets didn’t last long because my family really didn’t have an interest in animals.

My parents didn’t want to contend with the challenges of pets on top of the business of raising children. I can respect that. I like animals anyway. I like birds and rabbits. I like polar bears and penguins. I’ve even been known to handle a newborn lamb despite being subversively taught from birth that animal fur contains toxins beyond the scope of human resistance.

Wild animals and farm animals are essential, and well within my acceptance level. Bunnies and deer are found in our backyard on a regular basis. While they tend to be a nuisance regarding our landscaping plans, they have every right to be roaming freely. They are wild. We are on their turf. I want to live in harmony with nature. I’m sure I would feel equally tolerant of farm animals were I to live on a farm. Even pigs, with their smelly reputations, are of no mind to me.

Domestic animals are another matter completely. Some pet owners are completely aware of the fact that they are keeping a "pet." It provides companionship, acts as a guardian, or fetches that poor, defenseless duck Master shot through the head. These people understand the concept of "pet." However, if I live to be 100, I’ll never understand the personification of domestic animals. I know a person who refers to his cat as his "daughter. People use baby talk when speaking to their pets. A dog owner I know said the best thing about her dog is its ability to give her unconditional love. Love? I argued that the dog doesn’t have the capacity for human emotions, and that any kind of affection it appears to give is simply a learned behavior to procure food or some other basic, animalistic need. I thought the woman would melt my flesh with the fire in her eyes.

What is worst of all is the fact that these fanatical pet owners think their animals have as much right to roam the earth as freely as wild animals. No, they don’t. There are laws that say they don’t have that right. The wandering domestic animals are sure to provoke angry villagers to pursue them with flaming torches and pitchforks. At the very least, the authorities will be notified to rectify the situation. Simple solution: Keep those beloved furry children, the ones who lavish you with unconditional love, on a leash. It is the surest way to keep your little pooch or puss from having its head bashed in with a shovel.

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