Our Pets...

Avatar for shirley_v
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-29-2000
Our Pets...
10
Thu, 07-11-2013 - 6:57pm

I'm as big a fan of the online site "Cuteoverload.com" as anyone is, but today I heard a bit of a blurb on the radio about some author's book (I think it was a book?) which comments on how society is treating our pets more and more like children and questions, is that a good thing?  Well, I admit I overindulge my cat and talk to it like a child...so I am probably as guilty as anyone in that regard to treat my cat like a baby...well, sort of.  I talk so much to him that I am pretty sure that he thinks that meowing back to me, that I totally understand him and what he is telling me!  Mostly he tells me what he WANTS.  Be it FOOD, or LET ME OUTSIDE, or well, that's probably about it!  He certainly has learned that if he meows...it usually gets the results he wants!  (Well, as for going out, Calgary has a bylaw...no cats outside - though many do go out).  But I go with my cat - frankly, I don't trust him to stay close to home and the street we live on is fairly busy with traffic during morning and evening rush hours.  On the other hand, when I do go out with him...he is a cat of habit and does not take off in any direction.  He has a habitual tour of our house and usually aims to go to our backyard where I can sit and watch him.  I only go out when I feel like it though...I indulge him only when I feel like it! 

The one thing I do not like is when I see in photos (as on Cuteoverload) dogs (or well any animal) dressed in clothing.  This is where I really draw the line.  Pets are animals....cute as they are, and yes, we do love them as our own children probably, but they do not IMO warrant wearing clothing.  If dogs or pets could feel humiliation (do they?) I would think this would be one way they should feel humiliated!  LOL. This is where the human is definitely indulging his or her own whim.  

Aside from this opinion of mine, what do you think?  Do you think that some people are replacing having children with pets?  That pets fill an emotional need, (well, this I don't think you can argue with re most pets) but do you think that having pets fill that need is too much in some cases?  It is so true that having a pet (dog and probably a cat too) can do so much for our emotional and physical well being...blood pressure is reduced when you pet them,  and increases oxytocin levels in the blood (that feel good calming hormone that breast-feeding your baby gives the mother!).  The latter is something I just heard about on a documentary on t.v. recently.  Also that owning a dog will probably increase your life span!  So hey, good stuff.  But do we go overboard when we treat our pets like children? 

Shirley

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
In reply to: shirley_v
Thu, 07-11-2013 - 8:51pm

Who, ME? Go overboard in treating my grandcat like a baby? LOL. Or even Coco, who has filled the hole in my heart left when grandcat left the last time.

Grandcat allows me to cuddle him. He meows back when I talk to him (some of the time, anyway). He's very sociable and loves to be around people. A cat like that is easy to treat like its part human. 

Coco is more aloof, although she does like to be around people somewhat (especially me). When she was first here and very insecure she was in my lap constantly. So I think the aloofness is probably a good thing, it means she has settled in. I talk to her too, and she meows back, but I tell her that I don't understand Catese....too bad, because sometimes I would really like to know what the cat is going on about! I suppose I anthropomorphise with the best of them!

Pets in clothes? Dd dressed up Grandcat in baby clothes sometimes (which he hated) just for a laugh. I sometimes see dogs in sweaters (which in this climate seems unnecessary for most breeds) but otherwise don't see dogs in clothes out in public. I've seen dog Halloween and Santa costumes at the pet store, I guess I can see dressing the pet for the holiday for a photo. But dressing up the dog to take around on any old day, I don't understand that. That said, dd showed me a link to a calendar of cats dressed in some fancy outfits. Its cute to look at, and amazing that the cats are not trying to rip off the clothes!

Do these cats replace children for me? Sort of. Its a cute little creature on which to lavish love, affection, and attention, and an undemanding companion. If I had grandchildren would I feel differently about pets? I have no idea!

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-22-2009
In reply to: shirley_v
Fri, 07-12-2013 - 7:18am

One thing that DH's family does that has always driven DH and I crazy to refer to pets as family members.  His parent's dog was his "brother", his brother's dog his "nephew"  I loved our dog but he was not our son he was our pet.  People and animals are two totally different things . As DH would put it "I am not a dog"'   My DD's have picked up on it and do the same. DD1s dog is her "baby" and their "nephew".  But I think that they have picked up on DH's and my dislike of it (even though we have never came out and stated it)  because they do not call his our "grandbaby". 

At this point in her life Stephanie's dog is very important to her.  He is her bud that helps her when she is recoevering from chemo. He is definately filling an emotional need.  Probably better than a child would at this time because of having so few needs himself, it can be about her. 

No one in any of our families have ever dressed a pet as far as we know.  The closest is when DD3 was a child and tried to put a skirt on our golden retreiver.  He promptly peed on it which let everyone know that he understood he was a dog who does not do clothes. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2009
Fri, 07-12-2013 - 10:08am

Those ads on TV that call pet owners, pet parents drive me nuts. I am not a pet parent; I am a pet owner. Our family dog is an important part of our lives but he is still a dog. And we treat him like a dog.

I have relatives that take their dog everywhere they go. That drives me nuts too. They have brought their dog to parties and to overnight visits without asking. One time, for a birthday party, they were asked to leave their dog at home. They did not listen.

They do not understant that not everyone likes dogs and/or wants them in their house.

I would never think of bringing our dog along for a visit, even an overnight one, without our dog being invited. One of us either stays home, if we will be gone for a long time, or we arrange for a friend to come in and check the dog.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-13-2010
In reply to: shirley_v
Fri, 07-12-2013 - 10:46am

<< Its a cute little creature on which to lavish love, affection, and attention, and an undemanding companion>>

 I totally agree with this and cats really ARE undemanding.  My tabby who is now a year old wants nothing from us but food.  He's an indoor cat only, so never asks to go outside, but does slip out into the garage every now and then.  I've always loved and had cats.  They're small and when you pick them up, they're soft and relaxed in your arms, unlike dogs.  However, I haven't dressed a cat up in clothes since I was a little girl, but I can see where people without children might use a pet as a replacement for a child.  I know someone like that.

As for calling a pet a "brother", "nephew"...whatever...I say NO.  My parents consider THEIR dog their "son" and chose HIM over me at one point in my life.  My ex decided animals would not be allowed in the new house we built, so my parents took real issue with that.  My father actually said, "Sparky (their dog) is our son now and if HE'S not welcome, WE'RE not welcome."  Totally ridiculous.  So, they wouldn't come to visit me and my family and we didn't speak for 2 years.  Totally ridiculous to me that people would put an animal over their own child and grandchildren. 

 

Avatar for nora_mcl
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-30-2011
In reply to: shirley_v
Fri, 07-12-2013 - 8:09pm

I've also heard that owning pets expands your life expectancy, lowers your blood pressure & heart rate-& if that is the case-I think Mike & I should live to be 100 or more. Our pet population recently dropped to 2 dogs & 3 cats-we had to have Lady (our beloved pound puppy)put down as she had a very rapid moving cancer. By then we knew Adam was quite sick-& we had to deal with things one at a time. I am pushing for another big dog, seems to me nobody would be intimidated by these Pugs as guard dogs.

The cats are Mike's-more than mine. The one cat quite literally makes sure I see him & then he runs away from me-not sure why, but he does not like me.

Our kids went through times of dressing the animals up, or putting them in doll strollers-with varying success. It was amazing to us to watch Adam-he'd quite literally never seen any real animals until he came here. And we never had less than 2 dogs and 2 cats, & sometimes up to 4 of each. So he had to get accustomed to them-but he did, he liked Budgies (Parakeets)so we had a couple of them over the years. And when Lady went, he informed us he was ready for a Labrador Retriever...which we did not get in the 4 or 5 weeks before he died.

Can I see myself without pets? Not unless I'm in a single room in a Nursing Home. (I even tried to sneak a kitten into Residence in school-but got caught).

But as replacements for my kids?-nope, as company for me? yup. I don't mind having the kids bring their dogs here-but we have room for them. But we aren't taking these 2 with us when we travel, they are country dogs who won't do well in the city. After losing a few cats to Fishers or Coyotes-our cats are indoor cats now. And the dogs have the 'invisible fence' collars so they don't go far from the house.

Nora

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
In reply to: sabrtooth
Fri, 07-12-2013 - 9:17pm

Many people around here utilize "invisible fences", but the sad reality is that altho they keep the pets in, they do NOT keep the coyotes, or the foxes, skunks, coons, etc OUT.  Owls, eagles, and bats have been known to drop in also (and the rabies virus remains active and infective in A DEAD ANIMAL'S blood and saliva for a couple DAYS, and in the brain for several MONTHS)  so I would NEVER let my pets out unsupervised, and I would never let a cat out, period.  

As for dressing my pets--the kids did that as a joke.  We DO have sweaters for the Bostons, because they are very susceptible to cold weather, but we do not do it because we regard them as children.  And we have been known to put bandanas on them!

We love our pets.  We have always had multiple pets.  We DO NOT take them with us when we visit, nor do we let them out when visitors are over, unless our visitors are VERY accepting of the idea.  Our kids do sometimes bring their pets with when they come to visit, especially if they are staying overnight, but we have ALL agreed this is OK, eapecially for the dogs that live in the city and appreciate the chance to run on our acre.  SUPERVISED.

   

Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
In reply to: suzyk2118
Sat, 07-13-2013 - 8:15am

Same here - cats don't go out, dog, when we had her, was in an invisible fence (no fences in our subdivision unless they're the ornamental type like around a pool, and many have pools so it's usually just around the pool). And yes, we have coyotes, foxes, deer, snakes, Cooper's hawks, owls, bats...a great reason to keep dogs, when out, supervised. And while ds is home, we do have his kitty - thankfully she gets along with our two! But none of them are ever dressed...or treated/talked about as 'kids'...

Avatar for nora_mcl
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-30-2011
In reply to: nora_mcl
Sat, 07-13-2013 - 12:30pm

Oh Sab'r-they are supervised-we have almost 5 acres-but they don't get far from the house-the fence is set so they aren't more than 25ft away. At night, I go with them when they do their last go 'round. The biggest threat this summer seems to be the noisy Screech Owl-& he's just that-noisy. They can't even reach the (detached) garage with the collars on.

Nora

 

Avatar for shirley_v
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-29-2000
In reply to: shirley_v
Sat, 07-13-2013 - 1:09pm

I certainly do think that pets provide an important positive emotional contribution to our lives.  Who wouldn't love to have the unconditiional adoration of a dog every time you arrive home?  My cat probably loves to be petted as much as I like to pet him, so even though I might like to imagine he 'loves' me (!) I think it's more a two-way street where both of us mutually benefit!  He gets stroked, and I like how it feels to pet him and give him attention (he giving me some sort of attention in return). 

I think the person I referred to in the beginning of my last post, who questions some people's attachment to their pets is citing where it goes to the point that people lose sight of the difference between an animal and a child.  Or that pet owners will treat their pet like a child - or that it takes the place of a child.  I guess there are levels of this sort of thing, from mild to pathological!  When I heard this blurb on the radio, I didn't get the name of the author...so haven't a clue who he is or what his book is, or whatever...But the question he posed remained with me and so that's what got me to thinking.  Also being a frequenter of that website of all things cute in pets, "Cuteoverload.com" - I have noticed that there is a certain quality to the submissions of photos people have put on that website, or rather, their corresponding commentary to the photos is well... more akin to a person talking about their pet like it was their child.  I think we do transfer some of those sort of feelings over to our pets...not all bad except maybe in the extreme?

Now my sister (older than me) and her husband decided some time after (or before, maybe?) they got married that they would not have children.  I believe one of the deciding factors was that her husband was an only child and I think he had a rather strange relationship with his mother, if that had anything to do with it?  Anyway they did not have any children, but they did have a dog, two, but consecutively.  The second one died fairly young of some disease.  My sister was a volunteer and then a paid employee of their local SPCA in the past number of years and one day (some time after their second dog died) she brought home a little black kitten who I think was ill with respiratory disease and could not be in with other cats so as not to spread the disease.  The kitten was eventually supposed to go back to the SPCA when it was better...but within that time it had bonded with my BIL who was home all the time now, after having retired.  So when it was time for the kitten to return to the SPCA, my BIL suggested they keep the little guy?  I mention this, because all the time they owned a dog, it never seemed to me that my BIL was that attached to the dog.  But when it came to this cat...WELL...I was actually surprised to see that sweet side to my BIL surface!  It took a cat, who followed him around and sought his attention, to bring that out in my BIL, the man who never wanted to have children!  In a way, that cat has been more important to them than any dog they had before - at least so it looks to my eyes.  And seeing how it brought out to show the sweet tender side of my BIL, to me, that is a good thing.

Shirley

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-22-2009
Sat, 07-13-2013 - 1:34pm

Red our Golden Retreiver died a year ago Jan.  DH and I had already made the decision before hand that he would be our last pet.  We like the freedom of being able to get up an go without having to make arrangements. 

When Stephanie got her cancer  diagnosis I started having feelings that I wish I had a dog again.  Found out from talking to DH that he went through the feelings. We decided that wasjust a knee jerk reaction.  We were trying to find something to take away the pain.  Not getting a dog was the best choice, both because having the freedom was even more important with the diagnosis and because even though it may have helped us in the short term neither one of us was ready to make a long term commitment.