Pet Peeves

As I headed to the San Luis Rey Mission for our Thursday Night Men’s Group Spring Retreat, I asked my Inner Curmudgeon to take the weekend completely off.   After all, how can I find serenity with him yammering about this and that?   As usual, there are conditions on his cooperation.  He’s been carrying a little rant about pets around for weeks now, begging me to post it.   Pets are too controversial, I told him.  Then I’m coming with you on the retreat, he said.  That won’t do at all, so he’s getting his way and posting this through the miracle of WordPress scheduled posts.

Since the subject is pets, I feel a need to offer my credentials as a pet owner and lover of animals.  I’m an ASPCA Guardian, donating money every month to support animal rescue and fight cruelty.  I chose ASPCA because they seem to have a moderate policy unlike, say, PETA.   I have had cats for most of my life and when it’s been time to put them down, I’ve loved them enough to stay by their sides as the vet did the deed.  My daughter has a dog named Roxy who jumps on my lap ever time I enter the house … I sometimes kiddingly refer to her as my grand dog.  Kiddingly.   Every month, I get the ASPCA magazine and enjoy reading about the animals my money has helped rescue. More and more, though, my ASPCA magazine refers to pet owners as parents and people who keep animals while the ASPCA finds homes as foster parents.  When I go to PetSmart to get cat food, there are almost always pet adoptions going on.  Adopt don’t buy, says the ASPCA.  I can find dozens of websites for Pet Parents online.

When I was a kid, I asked my mother, Why is it bad to call someone a son-of-a-bitch?   Because, she said, when you call somebody that, you’re saying their mother is a dog.   Now, people voluntarily call themselves the parent-of-a-bitch.  I looked it up … a parent is a is a caretaker of the offspring in their own species.  Get it?  WOOFIE’S PARENTS WERE DOGS.  Hello? Adoption is a process whereby a person assumes the parenting for another and, in so doing, permanently transfers all rights and responsibilities from the original parent or parents.  Remember?  Parents?  You can only adopt your own species.  Adopting our children was a lengthy and in the end, wonderful process and I resent that the term gets applied to people picking up dogs at the pound, just as I think calling dog owners parents demeans parenting.  It’s also the kind of sloppy use of the language that I loath.   No harm, no foul, you say.

Dennis Prager, syndicated columnist and moralist, might suggest otherwise.  Prager spent time asking people the following question: If your pet and a stranger were drowning and you could only save one of them, which would you save?  A surprising large percentage of people answered that they would save their pet, which Prager sees as contrary to Judeo-Christian values, which holds that a human life is more valuable than that of any animal.   I’m inclined to agree.  The casual humanization of animals … or animalization of humans … through referring to animal ownership in terms like parenting and adoption contributes to what Prager calls animal-human equivalence.  Organizations like PETA oppose animal research even if it would save human lives based on this equivalence and an increasing number of people agree.   Just like letting a human being drown to save a cat, this would seem to me to be a fractured morality.

What do you think?  Is my IC making a BFD out of nothing or does he make some sense?

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4 Comments on “Pet Peeves”

  1. territerri Says:

    I’ve been heard to say that I adopted a dog. I didn’t think anything of it until you explained your position in a comment on one of my posts. And I thought you had a valid point. Now I tell people that I rescued my dog.


  2. I “adopted” my cat at a shelter. I don’t particularly mind people saying I adopted her… I don’t know what else I would call it. But as you probably remember, I have always made sure to maintain the human – animal distinction. I am NOT her mommy. She is NOT my baby. She is a cat. I am a person. Frankly, I’ve always thought that calling oneself a “parent” of an animal is a little desperate. Most people who have children don’t call themselves parents of their pets; for some reason, childless people seem to think that being a pet “parent” validates their existence. It screams “insecure,” to me. But that’s just me.

    And stop shying away from “controversy.” Debate ignites passion and engages thought! 🙂

  3. Cheryl P. Says:

    As a parent of human children and a caretaker of 2 cats, I do recognize the difference between humans and animals. I would absolutely save the drowning human. BUT I do love my pets and would mourn their loss. I don’t consider people desperate if they think of their pets as family members. This would only be a problem if they elevate the needs of their animals above the needs of humans.

    I also think IC always has some valid points. Not so much a BFD as much as a APV (alternate point of view)


  4. Although Mandy and I do, jokingly, refer to ourselves as “Mommy” or “Grammy” (depending of course on who’s doing the talking) to our dog, Sammy, and Pearl the cat, and I almost hesitate to say this, but we both do recognize that those are really just pets -a dog, a cat -and not a fellow member of the human race. Sure I do pick Pearl up, give her a bit of petting and loving and talk to her, telling her how she’s “Grammy’s pretty baby cat” from time to time and if she were in danger, needing rescued and I could do it, I’d be there in a heartbeat. Certainly. But would I rescue an animal over a human? Extremely doubtful. I’m thinking maybe the circumstances of something like a rescue operation could figure in -which was actually more accessible and fitting to my own abilities too, ya know.


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