Sunday, August 3, 2014


I like animals, but I never want to be a pet owner again. I've owned one pet or another for as long as I can remember, and I'm pretty sure my parents' house is still basically a zoo. Recently I started thinking about the idea of keeping pets, partially because Reid brings his dog Ruby into the office pretty regularly. I have fun with Ruby, which prompts me to reflect upon my aversion to having a pet of my own.

I had a dog of my own once. His name was Pedro, a black lab, who eventually grew to terrorize my yard until he disappeared one day. It was a long time ago, and I don't remember if he was actually a mean dog or if he simply frightened me, but I do remember him wearing a muzzle near the end. One day he was gone; my mom told me he had been stolen, but if he was as mean as I think he was then she was probably just sparing herself the trouble of explaining what "putting a dog to sleep" means.

As it turns out, raising a dog is a lot of work. If you want a good dog, you have to raise them well and give them attention. That sort of neediness repels me. Also, dogs are smelly. Like most children, I'm happy to spend some time playing with them for a while so long as they return to their caretakers at the end of the day.

That's why I took to cats as my preferred pet. They require fairly little attention to grow up healthy, being mostly independent by nature. There's still lots of duties to attend to as a cat owner: daily feeding and watering, cleaning a litter box, veterinary visits now and then... but all of that was bearable for the decade or so that I owned my cat Lily. It was worth it for her company, when she was in a lovable mood.

As it turns out, though, I'm allergic to cats. And dogs, for that matter. It's not a severe allergy (I lived with Lily for 10 years, after all), but the knowledge is enough to make me hesitant to go out and get another cat. Plus, I really don't miss cleaning a litter box.

The only non-dog-or-cat pet I've ever personally had to take care of was a rabbit called Noodle. For what it's worth, do yourself a favor and never get a rabbit. They are cute, sure, but that quality holds weight for a week at best. They are otherwise uninteresting animals that are uninterested in you. They're machines that turn food into poop, and they have no aspirations to be anything more. They are our prisoners, eating when we allow them to eat, and living their lives in a small cage.

In fact, that's true of most of the other animals I've had experience with: hamsters, guinea pigs, iguanas, chameleons, chickens, and all sorts of other birds. My family has spent some time trying out each of these types of pets to varying degrees of success, and I can't help but wonder why. These creatures are being kept in tiny cages far beyond their natural habitat, kept stationary for their entire, pitifully brief existence. It's almost a mockery of life. And who does this relationship benefit? Most of these things provide no companionship. They are simply "taken care of" until they die.

I have some issues with the very idea of pet ownership. Seeing a bird spending years in a cage depresses me, and I don't think I agree with the idea of "owning" another living creature.

That said, some people are like real-life Pokemon trainers, forming bonds with their pets that make the concept less depressing. Owning a pet is a commitment that I don't think most people take seriously. I don't think I can make that commitment, so I'll refrain from owning any pets for the foreseeable future.

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