Thursday, September 29, 2005


I’ve noticed a Petsmart commercial that referred to pet owners as “pet parents”. Now I know that there’s been an increase in people showering their pets with expensive attention – over-the-top grooming, pet clothes, pet carriers, food/treats, spas, psychics, therapists, etc. Some people have even made mention of folks having pets instead of having children. Do we really need to encourage people to think of their pets as children?

I’m all for treating animals right, but I draw the line at thinking of them as children. Pets are pets; they’re animals, they’re not people. I think that the excessive money spent on pets could be put towards things that I think are more important, like: college scholarships, medical research, charitable agencies, etc. Your dog is still going to love you even if you don’t make it wear a diamond tiara or studded collar.

Most of this is based on how I was raised – we always had pets of different kinds (but mostly dogs and cats), and we treated them lovingly, but we understood that animals were different from people.

Also, I’ve witnessed my own parents getting sucked into the “animals can replace children” idea, and it’s scary. The summer before I went to college they got themselves a puppy, Daisy. Fine, great, she’s cute and they’ll love her. Ever since then my mother has referred to the dog as my “sister” or her “little red-headed girl.” That, my friends, takes things a bit too far. But seeing as how she insists that the dog understands perfect spoken English, this isn’t too far of a stretch for her.

Daisy is a very loving dog, and she was originally purchased to be a hunting dog. My stepdad spent a lot of time with her, teaching her to hunt birds like grouse and pheasants. Unfortunately, has no nose. That means (for those of you not into bird hunting) that she’s not particularly good at sniffing out where the bird has landed in tall grass or brush. She needs to see where it has landed in order to find it. This didn’t deter my stepdad, and he has taken her on many a hunting trip during which the both of them had quite a good time.

This past year the dog has come to be blind. She was diagnosed as having suffered from a dog disorder called SARDS during which, in a matter of 24-48 hours, the dog will go irreversibly blind. This has taken quite a toll on my parents. No more hunting, and having to learn how to care for a blind dog. She can’t play fetch anymore, so she’s gained some weight.

One thing you can’t do is go and change your furniture around all the time. The dog would get confused and probably hurt herself on sharp corners. Some people suggest that owners of blind dogs can attach small pieces of sponge to “landmark” items in the house – wall corners, table legs, chair legs, etc. – and then put a few drops of something odorous on the sponge to “warn” the dog of an obstacle being close by. Well, because the dog relied pretty heavily on her eyes prior to going blind, this little trick isn’t working out so well. She’s still periodically running into things, but she seems generally happy.


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