Or at least a very long time. Recently I have noticed an abundance of social media posts from friends, families, complete strangers that they finally gave in & got a family dog or other pet. Many of these posts allude to families being at home more often & finally having the time to invest in a pet. This gives me pause, for a couple of reasons – while I think it’s great to see so many pets being adopted, when things go back to normal will these families still have time for their pets or will they become neglected and/or rehomed? Pets can fill a void, I would be very lonely without my cats but animals are sentient beings & their singular existence is not to entertain, feed or otherwise serve human beings. I think that many people are feeling a variety of holes right now that a pet could probably fill but pets are a commitment, not a temporary void filler.
Growing up a farm kid, we often took in a lot of rabbits after Easter because families would purchase them as gifts for the holiday & then didn’t feel the need to keep them. It’s baffling that grown adults who thought they were intelligent enough to have kids would bestow a living creature on their child as a gift only to dispose of it. I always wondered how they explained the sudden absence of the rabbits to their kids? Oh, it’s OK to temporarily use another living thing for your entertainment & enjoyment…?
I have a softer spot in my heart for animals than I do most people. Why? Animals didn’t ask to be here. You could argue that people don’t ask to be born either but that’s a different discussion. Animals are at the mercy of their owners & unfortunately, human cruelty & ignorance has no bounds. See dog fighting, cock fighting, bull fighting…trophy hunting to the detriment of entire species. Animals trust us to protect them & we continually fail. We dictate what species are invasive, what species are subject to population control (or removal as the DNR calls it) while we allow our own species to propagate unfettered. The least that we can do for animals is to treat them with some compassion & kindness.
This is just a reminder that pets are a long-term commitment & a lot of work. I once read a snarky, mommy martyr post that said something like; Pets aren’t kids, I wish I could just leave my kid alone with a bowl of milk. Or something as ridiculously self-aggrandizing & ignorant. Are pets kids? No. Does someone treating their pet like a kid detract from someone’s motherhood? Also, no. Is social media a cesspool? Yes. My point is, pets can be a lot of work. They can have health issues, your home will require some pet-proofing, they need regular vet visits, teeth cleanings, food, sometimes prescription food, water, a clean environment & plenty of attention. If I just left my cats alone with a bowl of milk, we’d have some serious issues. I have one cat that eats anything it finds on the floor, I have to vacuum my apartment almost everyday. I’ve had to baby proof all of my cabinets to keep them from getting hurt or stuck – there is no end to amount of mischief they can get into but I appreciate their presence in my life. If you get a dog, it probably needs to be allowed into the house when it is cold – some breeds can survive outside but a family pet should be allowed in the house. I actually know a family that has a dog that is never allowed inside because it gets hair on the couch. Yes, dogs have fur that sheds…? I also know a family of sled dogs who live outside year round, we had sheep dogs growing up that rarely came into the house. I understand the difference between a pet & work or service animal. A labrador living in the suburbs probably does not fall into the work category. Anyway…
If you or someone you know is thinking of getting a pet as a result of this new pandemic life, just remember that this could be temporary & a pet will still be here when the pandemic is done. I know that is hard to believe but one day, things could be very normal & if that pet didn’t fit into that formerly normal life then chances are they just won’t fit in your life. Also, be sure to research the needs & best environment for your new companion. Is your family a good fit? Do you have enough space? Eventually they will pass away too which can be tremendously traumatic. My grandparents had a no pet rule after losing a family dog when my dad was a kid, I’ve never asked for the full story there but it obviously had a lasting impact.
I love to see so many adoptions happening, I hope that all of these people are in it for the right reasons & the long run & lots of happy homes are made 🖤