Pet Peeves

Shocking to hear of the vehemence with which some object to the presence of pets. My furry friends are my family. While they are not human, they are beings, they are organisms, they have feelings, they have needs and they have desires and they thrive on the love and attention we give. I am not one for humanizing animals, making them in to extensions of our selves, embedding in them feelings and motivations that are ours rather then theirs. My furry companions are not my children and I am nobody's mom!

While most do not wish to harm another, least through our furry companions, my heart goes out to all those so inconvenienced by an overwrought immune system that living a normal life becomes the greatest of challenges. I do wonder what the world has come to when the simple peaceful presence of an animal becomes a threat to life. I am no expert on allergies and knock on wood, I am not plagued by any to my knowledge, even though many suffer from pollen and so much more here in the Southwest.  Could the American life style have anything to do with these hyper reactive systems more seem to suffer from here in the US then say in Europe?

I am writing in response to this New York Times article that ends with the suggestion of leaving our pets home with their predictable routine rather then putting them through the stress of taking them along on our trips. And I am writing in response to the long discussion that ensued. Many seem to think that to leave our pet behind like an object (rather then a dependent, bonded, dear buddy with the brain of maybe a 2 year old child) should be the obvious thing to do. But who in their right mind cherishes to leave their 2 year old behind? No longer living in extended families, we are to depend on the kindness of strangers (pet sitters, professional boarding places, all to be had for whooping amount of dollares.) Would you entrust your baby to strangers?

From my own experience I am one to believe that small children are best off near their mom. I have limited trust in today's emphasis on early schooling. Maybe for those, probably way too many, whose parents have to work and have to be away from home and for those whose parents have a very limited ability to focus and provide for their kids, an early source of attention outside the home may be beneficial. Piaget and Steiner, both from the last century, stressed the importance of stages in the developing brain and the importance of non-linear, magical thinking in the early years.

My dogs are not kids, but I know they prefer to be by my side most of the time. In 3 years my little guy, Sumo, indicated only twice his preference to stay home, and so he did. If I walk my dogs twice a day for 3 years, it comes to more then 2000 outings, which means maybe 1 in 1000 times my dog might prefer separation and that for a short time only! If I am indoors they want to come in and if I am out in the yard they want to be there too. Dogs belong to packs, I am their pack leader, I am the one they are focused on, I am the one they want to be with, and so it should be.

I would not want to abandon a 2 year old kid and I would not want to abandon my dogs. They are my only family these days. And look how many abandoned pets thrown away like garbage, can be found at our shelters. We should celebrate those that take it on themselves to provide a good home and rescue those discarded, sometimes badly abused pets. Can we ad insult to injury by traumatizing an abused pet over again? Travel may be a luxury for leisure and fun, or may be a necessity. Why penalize pet owners with excessive charges? Enough already of canine discrimination!

Somehow these creatures of God-dess made it in to this world and we have a humanitarian responsibility to treat them with respect, care and consideration, also during times of travel, by choice or necessity. We live in a complex, and more and more crowded world and we have to find ways to get along. Denying other then to the human species the right to normal modern activities, like traveling by train, or plane, or bus is wrong!

Create special sections that serve special needs, like we have smoke free sections, we can assign  allergen free areas in a plane it could be something like a 0 class rather then a 1. or 2. class. And there could be a pet section that would accommodate a rapidly growing number of pet lovers. We could pay for an extra seat for a larger pet and other passengers would have the time of their life getting free entertainment from the canine passengers they chose to sit near by. Maybe coats could be invented to keep offending dander to a minimum. Maybe diapers could be employed on long trips to spare fellow travelers unpleasant accidents. Where there is a will there is a way. Please let us gather our collective will to honor all species and find ways to coexist rather then for one to dominate another and to deny it's right to exist.

P.S.: I never attempted to smuggle my pets in to an airplane, have no intention to fly, with or without my  furry companions and I am very grateful for my VW Vanagon that is still going strong after more then 200,000 miles and serves as a very comfortable 2. home. Even the kitty calmed down as we all headed in the van to the vet last week.

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