Monday, June 6, 2011

Pets are like Iraq

"Pets are like Iraq" I said this and I meant it, but not quite in the way it was taken. "We probably shouldn't have gone in there in the first place but now we are we can't just pull out."

I have a problematic relationship to pets. I love animals. I grew up in a family that valued animals more than humans. I slept beside one animal or another and always had more than one pet. My pet ferret was my closest companion for a while. I told him everything and took him for walks in the park on a little lead. Pets were important to me and my family still surround themselves with animals.

Animals make their lives smaller. They can't go out of the house for too long because of the pets. They can't all leave at once for a family trip because the dogs will fret. Cleaning the animal cages takes half their day. A replacement for work. A replacement for friendships.

When we domesticated animals we were playing god. We were shaping the world in our image. How sad for a pet to live its whole life without the pack or the paired union. Imagine being plucked from your natural family and kept alone amongst another species. A dog in the wild would hunt and mate and raise a family. A dog in a human house will live a sexless existence, infantalised forever. No matter how much you love it, its development has been arrested. Like Iraq, we should never have gone into owning pets in the first place, but like Iraq now we are in there how can we get out? We can't just abandon the dogs and the cats and the ponies. We can't just set them to roam free in packs through the streets. I also love the idea of a kitten or a puppy of my own, a child replacement perhaps, but still something vulnerable to love.

It is very complicated. Now that we have them, what are they to us? What if your pet Alsation wants to be sexual with you, the only other animal in sight? What if you want to be sexual in return? You in your loveless house judged too old or too ugly or too odd for the company of another human being? Who am I to say that your dog can not have sex with you? Sex is natural to all animals, a need and a desire. If this kind of inter-species love is reciprocated then who am I to judge. Now that we are in there how can we just pull out? What is the right thing to do? What is so wrong with it anyway?

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