Some pets don’t have it as rough as they could. Or is that ruff?
While wheeling a cart of groceries back to my car recently, I overheard part of a conversation a couple of women were having. Passing each other, one on the way in and the other leaving, they were just catching up when Woman No. 1 pulled a miniature dog (I’m terrible with breeds) out of her handbag.
“Go to the car and play with brother and sister,” she told the pint-sized pooch.
Naturally, I expected there were more dogs in the minivan Rover ran to, but when the door opened it was Woman No. 1’s young children.
Apparently, we’ve been missing one of the biggest news scoops of all time right here under our cold, wet little noses in Laramie — “Woman gives birth to dog.”
Of course it does, almost as ridiculous as it sounds when pet owners treat their animals like they’re people. They are not. While cute, cuddly, loyal and just plan fun to hang around with, our dogs and cats are animals. It raises my hackles a little whenever I hear people refer to pets as their “kids” or “babies.”
I can almost stomach the term “fur babies,” but there are some who use it in an attempt to convince themselves — and others — that they are “parents” because they love their dogs, cats, goldfish, hamsters or whatever four-legged friends they share their lives with.
Before you start sharpening the pitchforks and lighting the torches, this isn’t an anti-pets column. I love pets. Like many in Albany County, I grew up with a lot of them. I have great memories of our family dogs, cats, gerbils, guinea pig and even a couple of newts (Sir Isaac and Fig). We kept a pair of doves for several years (boy, they were noisy) and always had quite a few fish in several tanks and a pond out back.
Animals are very important and we love them all very much.
But let’s face it, they’re not people and having a little dog you can pamper, dress up and carry around in a backpack doesn’t make you a “mom” or “dad.”
A veterinary friend whom I’ll call Dr. Doolittle also loves animals, so much so he’s made caring for sick and injured critters his profession.
He respects animals and their owners, and he’s seen all kinds of both in three decades of practice.
As important pets are in his life — his own terrier mix and those he treats — do you know what you won’t see Dr. Doolittle do?
Cook for them as if they were his own kids. He said one harmful way people anthropomorphize their animals is assuming cats and dogs eat “better” if their owners cook and feed them human food.
“Cats are not little dogs and dogs and cats are not little people nutritionally,” he said, adding that the epidemic of human obesity in America also is showing up in our companion animals. “If you feed a strictly human diet to dogs and cats, you can get some really serious problems from that.”
Pets are very important and can play a key role in family life. Children learn valuable lessons about caring for others by having pets while growing up. For childless singles and couples (I’m one of them, by the way), they can be very important companions we love very much.
So take this advice from one big, hairy person: Unless you’ve started a college savings account for them or they’ll be your caregivers in your old age, stop trying to convince yourself and others pets are just little, hairy people.