PERSONAL PET PEEVE: Pets Are NOT Kids

Just sharing a little "pet peeve" (pun totally, shamelessly intended) of mine.

It drives me completely batty when someone sends out an e-mail or does a blog post announcing a "new baby girl" and it turns out to be a female bulldog they've added to their home, or in some other way refers to a pet as a "child" or a "new baby". It happens all the time... you go visit a young couple who laughingly says, "here are OUR kids", while gesturing towards their two golden retrievers. I know, it's often done supposedly "in jest" or in a cutesy, wink-wink sort of way, but it is indicative of a deeper problem in our culture.

Namely, it points to the lack of maturation and willingness to accept responsibility that is a hallmark of this American generation. Pets used to be the purview of 8-12 year old boys on a farm. Now, it's "the" accessory to have, whether you're a young-married couple who just "isn't ready for kids yet" (who is?, I want to ask!), or single who isn't ready for marriage, or a married couple who has reached the max of 2.3 kids and just can't handle any more children.

Now, I'm not knocking on pets. If you want a dog, get one. If you love gerbils, by all means, fill every nook and cranny in your home with the smelly little vermin. But please, don't, at least to me, introduce said dog or gerbil as the "new baby in your home". While I get that pets are special and add a neat element of fun and relaxation to a home, and do require some level of selflessness (although not anywhere near the level of children), they are not children.

They do not have eternal souls.

They are not called "blessings" in the Word of God.

I repeat, they ARE NOT CHILDREN.


We will now return to the normal, collegial, inquisitive, analytical tone you normally find here at Making Home. I just had to get this off my chest. :) If you have anything you need to get off your chest (whether or not it involves pets), please feel free to leave a comment.

24 comments:

Britt said...

Hahahah Jess...EVERYTHING you said, I completely agree with. A couple things you forgot to mention though: when dogs are carried around in those little purses or when they are dressed up in outfits. THAT drives me nuts!

Now, I like dogs...we have two dogs: a German Shepherd and a Black Lab. But we also live out in the country, have plenty of room for the dogs to go exploring with dad and the kids, and they serve as a form of protection - they know when people are in our driveway before we do and they've scared off other animals (foxes, wild dogs, raccoons, etc) from our property.

We have two children (and prayerfully will have more in the near future). I couldn't imagine calling our dogs our "other kids." There's no comparison...lol.

Anonymous said...

Agreed.

And here's something more shocking...

Link

Japan has more pets then children. Japanese women are choosing pets over motherhood.

Result : Japan's fertility rate is 1.3 per woman - way lower than the replacement level of 2.1 and they are facing a demographic collapse.

Terry said...

Jess, In the sidelinks at 'Amy's Humble Musings' is a link to an article about a couple who grabbed their dogs while running out of a burning home, but forgot their son. The D.A. charged them (god for him!), but I think this is just indicative of the low value and opinion our culture has of kids.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jess!

So true. Our dog is our dog, and we are his owners, not his parents. What gets me is when people take their dogs to the grocery store or clothing store and can't understand why I don't want their dog there.

:)
Emily

MInTheGap said...

I'm with you here, Jess. It seems that we've replaced actual people with animals. Of course, I'd never advocate people treating children like animals, but come on!

Kyla said...

Well as a prayerful future mother I have to say that my dogs are my kids. I understand that they are not the same as children and my love for my future children will way out weigh my love for my pets but for now I have dogs. Maybe because I am not a mother I can't understand your offense but I am not sure how the fact that I love and treat my dogs as my present family could possibly upset anybody else. I am thankful for the chance to care for God's creatures ( I understand that they do not have souls but they are God created living things) they bring joy into our lives and company into a childless home. I also take my little one with me to run errands when I don't really have to get out of the car. Occasionly he will run into a (non food) store with me but stays in his bag or my arms. Usually people don't even notice that he is there. He is much less disruptive then some children. Calling my dogs my kids or my babies in no way negates my desire to be a mother but it does soften the hurt a little to have something depend on me and adore me.

Mrs. Brigham said...

LOL!! Great post, Jess!

When Peapod was about three months old, we were at a store & my husband had her in one of our baby slings, with a blanket on top, so she was quite hidden. As we were walking around, two women approached him and asked if they could see....HIS DOG!!! They seriously thought that he had a dog in the sling! *baffled*

Katy-Anne said...

I totally agree! It's always annoyed me, and it annoys me when people totally spoil their animals too.

Mary Brooke said...

Kyla,
I think it's the replacement of animals for human relationships that saddens me. There are so many lonely *people* made in God's image in our country.

The twistedness of the dog-loving thing became more apparant to me as I watched a Nancy Campbell video where she talked about puppies/dogs being loved more than babies. She said a lovely little girl was out at a garage sale with her mamma, no one cared about the little girl, but went crazy when a bunch of puppies came along. Also, she remarked about seeing a precious new babe in an airport bathroom where no one could be bothered to stop and admire the baby. I have been having babies for the past 5 years (3 babies) and do get admirations, but I pass a lot of dog walkers who will go on and on about their *animal* and then say, "oh yes, and your baby is so cute too". Mary Brooke

Anna S said...

Hi Jess... am I delusional, or was there a guest post you removed? :)

BTW... I totally agree with you on this one. I love animals and I'm the proud owner of two cats, but that doesn't even come anywhere close to having children!!

Chad and Sandy said...

I totally agree! We took our kids, yes, they are REAL kids to the pumpkin patch this past weekend. A couple brought their dog to the pumpkin patch, he was getting the full experience! Oh my.....

Brenda said...

I've seen both sides. Before I was a mother, I had a dog and she was my baby. I didn't call her my baby, or introduce her to others that way, or send out Christmas cards with her picture, but I was practicing for motherhood. Even getting up in the night (and realizing that my husband did NOT hear the dog--which stood true when he became a father!) :) After my daughter was born, the dog took a huge nosedive down the ladder to dogdom. I completely felt differently about the whole thing. If you don't have kids, you can't be prepared for how you will feel about them.
But I agree--it can be annoying.

CB said...

Ugh. I've got a good one for you ... a couple of years ago I was teaching m my son's pre-K Sunday School class. The curriculum was, in my opinion, dumbed down and weak. Our first lesson was about Abraham's servant making the journey to find a wife for Isaac. You would think the lesson would be about prayer, since the servant prayed for direction. Or even about how God provided a wife and designed marriage. But no ... the application from this very watered down, one paragraph-telling, was that Rebecca cared for her camels! And then we were supposed to talk about how we care for pets and love them! That was really the extent of the lesson. Ugh! I couldn't believe it. Needless to say, I read the story from a children's Bible and we talked about how prayer is talking to God and how we can even pray for our future spouse.

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with your post somewhat. To the families who are unable to have children and who are longing for children who do not come, their pets ARE their children. Now, dressing them in dresses and such...yeah thats too far. But babies dont come easily or quickly for everyone. A beloved pet sometimes fills that void, at least temporarily.
A proud mommy to a four legged "baby"

Serena said...

Amen, Jess! Pet "children" drive me batty. To put it mildly.

Kris said...

Having just spent nearly two weeks visiting my family and seeing "family" pictures of my brother, SIL, and their three "babies" that they have chosen instead of the "burden" of raising children, I can say I agree 400%, wholeheartedly, and unabashedly!!! To be told I'll have to settle for "neices" with fur and tails because my selfish family would rather have babies that don't require any self-sacrifice is reprehensible to me. And to sit there dumbfounded as I'm told that at least their "kids" don't tear up a house and aren't hyper like MY real-life children are was the icing on the cake.

And of course, to top the whole thing off was the ad DH found in the paper yesterday for a pet "spa" where furbabies of every species were treated to room service, massages, and round-the-clock podcasted 'baby monitoring' to the tune of $85 a night...that's more than we spent on a hotel room for ourselves!

It's ridiculous, I tell you, that people would CHOOSE (I'm not referring to infertility here) to have soul-less pets over children. What a selfish society.

Anonymous said...

Children do not come easily for some people, true, but what does a Christ-following woman do in that situation? Raise a pet as her substitute 'baby', or rather invest some time in visiting an orphan child that nobody visits in the orphanage and playing with him? Or helping out a busy woman from her church who might be very glad to have the time to go on a special date with her husband, knowing someone trustworthy is with the her child/children? Or visiting someone elderly? Or..... So many options are there. Which makes for a more profitable and godly response to infertility or childlessness? Again, that is not to say having pets is in any way wrong. But at no time and in no way should pets be treated and even thought of as 'children substitutes' - at least by a Christian.

Before anyone accuses me of being insensitive or anything, I do have pets which I am fond of, and I have been there, wishing for children and finding that they do not come easily. I still am. God has been so good as to bless us with one son.

Mrs. P

Allie said...

I agree with you, Jess! Recently we had two guests (a young married couple - my age, actually) stay with us for a while. They brought their two "kids" or ferrets. I have to say it irked me when I would drag my morning-sick self out of bed after being up at night with my one-year-old son, and they would talk about their "kids." :) It was kind of funny in a not-funny-way. But I do agree with you: it's a sign in our culture of a deeper problem.

Anonymous said...

When pet owners treat their pets like kids, they aren't treating them like cats, dogs, ferrets, etc. In other words, it seems these people don't love their dogs because they are dogs. I love dogs and would never think of marginalizing them by dressing them up or talking to them in "baby talk". The same goes for cats. I love cats for all the personality quirks they have as cats, not surrogate babies.

Another thing I've noticed is many of these pet owners have terribly behaved pets. They're spoiled brats, allowed to run rampant and undisciplined. I was at the home of a family member who "loves cats" and has several of them. I observed them running on the kitchen counters and table, scratching furniture, knocking over their food bowl, even running and jumping on me in their play as if I weren't there. I was invited to have dinner with her, but I had to respectfully decline, because all I could think of was the cats walking all over the counters while the food was being prepared, or trying to eat off my plate. That doesn't seem very sanitary to me!

And in the vein of treating pets as accessories, sometimes I get the feeling that some celebrities have children for that reason, too. Very saddening.

Marissa

Queen said...

ITA! Funny you should post about this. I just had a conversation with my son about how we are not to be intentionally cruel to animals, yet we must not put animals on equal footing with humans. Animals were not created in God's image - people were!

I find it strange the way some people seem to be obssessed with animals nowadays. Showing pictures of their "babies" and cooking them special foods and such. It just seems odd to me!

Jazzy

Dave Carrol said...

THIS I LOVE... it's insanity that people even PRETEND it somewhere.

Ludicrous

Preach it sister

MG said...

Thanks for being brave enough to save this. I can't tell you how many times I have seen "announcements" on forums I frequent, only to discover that they are talking about pets.

LisaM said...

Ditto - I'm so glad you had the wherewithal to post this one. It does go along with the other post about the choice of people to have a pet instead of taking a responsibility for something much more difficult to deal with - a human being created in God's image. My first response to this article? WOOO HOOO!

Ticia said...

I think that people who have never had a child are unable to comprehend the difference between the love of a child and an animal. As much as it annoys me I do understand they want something to love.
I am not an animal hater at all. I have 2 children and cannot have anymore. I got a pet every time I longed for a baby. I was not a replacement but it helped.
I have 6 pets!