While visiting a friend (and mother of 4) a few weekends ago, I was asked the question about my dogs: “Are they your babies?”
My husband, a very straight and to the point kind of guy responded and said, “No, I’m not that guy.” I was then asked, “Are you that girl?” And for a minute, I was silent – almost as if I was searching for the politically correct answer for those of us who have not “fulfilled our duty” and helped populate this overpopulated world. I responded with a “They are animals, we love them, and they are a part of our family.” The conversation progressed into how some people treat their animals like their children, and how that’s just strange behavior, maybe even unacceptable in the eyes of those who have children, and did not understand the idea of treating an animal like a person.
Growing up, we always had animals – my mother worked for KOIN TV in Portland, Oregon and there was always a “Animal Rescue” of the day featured before the evening news. If nobody called, we were “surprised” with a new pet. I’ll never forget one morning, walking into the kitchen and seeing a handful of cats run across the kitchen table with my little brothers blueberry waffle (each holding a small part of it with their mouth), making a quick scurry for the sliding glass door that had been left open… my little brother (not more than 3 years old) watched in disbelief as his waffle quickly vanished from his breakfast plate. It was one of those moments, when all I could do is also stare in disbelief and laugh at what had just transpired. Yes, we had many animals growing up – cats, dogs, horses, pigs, goats, the occasional hamster and rabbit… they all added joy to our lives. We knew they were animals – as kids, of course, like most – when we had kittens, we carted them around in our doll strollers, dressed in doll clothing, wrapped up in our doll blankets – they were our “babies”.. and that’s what is great about being a child, there is no judgment, there is no politically correct answer, there’s just a child playing with her babies.
Every now and again when I drop off my Saint Bernard for her grooming appointment, I walk up and down the aisles of Pet Smart, and look at all the accessories, houses, purses, strollers even car seats that they have for all different types of animals. The strollers are specifically made for animals, and it makes me giggle a little. Although, I personally can’t justify a stroller, I’ll be the first to admit – when I do find my Tea Cup Poodle, I will be in search of the cutest and most girly purse to carry my little dog around in, and there certainly will be matching outfits involved… not because I believe animals to be the same as people, but because I just love to accessorize pretty much anything in my life, and why not – if it brings me joy and makes me smile, and I’m not hurting anyone, then why not?
And what about those “people” who treat their animals like their babies? Are they really hurting anyone? Do we honestly know what is going on in their personal lives.. and maybe, just maybe, these “babies” of theirs will be the closest reality for them to experience love, nurturing, bonding with another life. Who are we to judge or to call them crazy for displaying the act of love? Maybe they can’t have children and this is their way of coping with life situations, maybe this is their form of therapy, maybe they just love animals, and they want to enjoy the company of someone who doesn’t talk back, who doesn’t judge, who is always happy to see you at the end of a long day. Maybe, like those who have decided to have children, they have decided to have animals.
My husband and I don’t have children, we do have a Saint Bernard, a puppy, and a cat who “found” us a few years ago. Actually, a few years ago today – we had returned from one of our camping adventures (the last one before the end of summer). I looked out on our back porch and I immediately noticed this little kitten, skin & bones curled up to Destiny (our Saint Bernard). I had always wanted a blonde kitty with blue eyes .. and that day, he found me! We named him Tigger, fed him, gave him a little cheta print house outside, and the rest is history! We share him with our next door neighbors, who lets him sleep inside their home at night. He was meant for us though, just like our Saint Bernard, Destiny (who was born on the same night Nate proposed to me), and our newest addition, Penny the puppy (who found me outside of Target!) – we love her too, and we are happy with our life. We are lucky to have animals that bring us lots of laughter & entertainment.. and we are lucky to have friends who have kids, that we can visit and enjoy … and we are lucky to have eachother, to come home to after a long day .. and enjoy a quiet evening, a night out on the town if we choose to do so, an unexpected weekend away, or a planned out 2 week vacation abroad. For now, we are happy with the life we have – and we look forward to whatever life brings into our future.. because everything in life is what YOU make it.