Want to know how to infuriate me, to shit me to the point where I have to walk away or hand out a personality reading you may never get over?
Just say this: “It’s only a dog!”
In the past it has always been a parent who has lobbed this vile volley at me, comparing my love for my dog Iggy and their apparent superior love for their biological offspring.
And so, when I started reading a New York magazine article this week titled ‘Pets Are Not Children, So Stop Calling Them That’, I counted how long it would be until the writer, one M.A. Wallace, would reveal they had kids.
The answer came in paragraph four, which reads:
“I have two children, and when I meet people with pets who equate their experience to mine, I don’t know how to react. I should be able to say, ‘Please don’t equate your pet with my children,’ but something stops me; it now feels rude, practically reactionary, to insist on the difference.”
Despite admitting this attitude is rude and hurtful to those who don’t have biological children, the writer continues.
“You can’t 'parent' a pet because you aren’t teaching it how to leave you and become an independent being. Your pet is stuck with no choice but to love you.
“When people with pets take the title of 'parent' and blur the line between pets and children, our language is distorted in a way that only adds to our confusion and anxiety. It may be a gentle delusion to think of your pet as your 'child,' but it’s still a delusion. Misnaming our relationship with pets isn’t just a lighthearted goof. It’s a retreat from the world.”
Well, M.A. Wallace, as much as I appreciate you are perpetuating the population and providing society with future taxpayers by choosing to procreate, I do not appreciate your assumption I am delusional or retreating from the world.
What I am doing is loving something with all my heart, nurturing a life as I would a child and protecting that said source of affection with all my might.
You might think my pet is stuck with no choice but to love me; however, I fear the same happens with children. Only, there’s a better chance my dog will love me to the bitter end, whereas humans may wane and waver in its affections.
Listen to Mia, Holly and Jessie discuss whether pets are children on Mamamia Outloud.
But most of all I want to say how dare you suggest my love for my pet is less valid or valuable than yours for your child. It is as rude, condescending and damn well intolerable, up there with the adage (only ever dealt out by parents), “you don’t know love until you have a child.” Do not tell me I don’t know what love is, or make out that the recipient of a whacking great slab of my heart is less deserving of said adoration because he happens to have four legs.