When I first started thinking about our modern relationship with dogs I thought it at first that it was just some silly fad that one could purchase matching family pajamas including one for the family dog, or that you could buy your dog a Halloween costume. The more I think about it, I conclude that there is the loss of some fundamental value involved in the way our society is going to the dogs, literally!

It was recently reported that a 17 year old cat was thriving after receiving a kidney transplant from another cat “adopted” for the purpose of providing the donation. The “owner” (you are not supposed to use that word) spent 41% of her annual income on her “best friend”, $19,000, on veterinarian bills. The 17 year old did not get to be an 18 year old cat but it did live a couple more months.

Then there was the report of a study that women slept better, less disturb, with dogs by their side than with human partners and dogs provided stronger feelings of comfort and security. I did not make that up.

And at Christmas time the pet store reminds us not to neglect presents for Fido whose feelings may be hurt if he is left out of the giving spirit. And if you are thinking of getting married remember to get matching tuxedos for his and hers dogs…really.

OK, there is one new fad I can accept: shoes for dogs because I am in favor of keeping them outside and there is wear and tear on their feet in cold weather.

A recent New York Time article referred to a new service for dog “owners” where for a measly $135 a professional dog handler will take your dog to the wilderness for the day and let it roam free. A bath for the pooch at the end is an optional with a special fee.

I love dogs and had a yellow lab mix for many years. He was given to our family by a couple who could not cope with the fact that “Mister”, that was his name, learned how to turn on the water in the kitchen sink to get a drink but could not turn it off while being alone in the house all day while the couple was at work.

Mister was a real dog who slept in a real dog house in our back yard. At first he was leery of getting in the house but accepted it after I crawled in and pulled him after me.  Occasionally he came into the house but generally he was an outside dog and never wore a tuxedo or Halloween costume yet seemed to be fulfilled.Mister

I think these fads all started when the animal rights advocates decided that it was not politically correct to call the “owners” owners. Their argument is that a human should not be master of the dog and should not claim ownership like a slave master!

So now we are to refer to the “owners” as “parents” of the dog, or the Mothers and Dads of the dog. Some even go so far as to refer to their children as “brothers” and “sisters” to the dog!

Has society substituted having and caring for pets as an alternative to having, educating and caring for children?

About paaron1

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6 Responses to GOING TO THE DOGS

  1. Giorgio John says:

    Well, you are even braver than I thought, Phil! I agree wholeheartedly. I have seen firsthand the value of pets and service animals, even made use of animal assisted therapies for my clients as a grief counselor. That does not mean, however, that I valued the animals the same as the humans. Our loneliness has many manifestations and the things you mentioned seem to be on that list.

    • paaron1 says:

      John, good to hear from you and thanks for commenting. Rightly you have related the issue to therapy and animals which is a little different than Halloween costumes and overkill on pets toys!

  2. Don Szumnarski says:

    Phil, Thought provoking, humorous slant on pet ownership. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve known that have taken their pets to The Ohio State University and spent thousands of dollars on their medical care. I don’t think that I would ever do so but you never know…it could happen. In a way I can understand the attachment and their willingness to sacrifice financially in hopes of extending the lives of their pets….especially when witnessing their grief upon the passing of their pets (which were like family members). It’s amazing how the concept of pet ownership has evolved over a relatively short period of time…. as well as how the effects of our rising standard of living and income levels have apparently changed our behaviors. Some have significant discretionary income/finances and can spend it on their pets….while others can’t afford to feed themselves or their families. And I agree that loneliness plays a big part in it. Hmmmmm. Thanks for sharing the thoughts!

  3. paaron1 says:

    Don, wow, what a great reflection to conclude my piece…thanks much

  4. linda says:

    Yes, I have frequently said that all the Human Society ads on TV, the number of doggie toys , etc. make me wince when I think of abandoned children, the foster care system, the kids of the homeless shelters who try to study their lessons after school. Our values and focus have changed.
    And, yes, I love dogs.

  5. paaron1 says:

    Linda, thanks for commenting

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