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Relating to Our Pets

Relating to Our Pets

I heard an interesting story on NPR this morning that suggested that one of the reasons we Americans are so in love with our pets is that we no longer have a strong sense of community.

There could be some truth in this. Loving and respecting animals is always a wonderful thing. And I feel that many cultures have a history of relating to animals in this way – at least on some level. But there is something new about the phenomenon of carrying around tiny dogs in purses and dressing them up in frilly outfits.  Some of us anthropomorphize our pets in a way that we didn’t in the past – and in a way that fails to actually respect the animals for what they are.

And it is precisely this anthropomorphizing that suggests that maybe we are trying to replace human connections with relationships with animals. It is true that, for many reasons, we are not as connected with our local communities as we used to be. We work long hours and live far away from our friends and families. I love my basset hound and the cats and dogs I’ve had in the past. I know my life would be emptier without them.  But we should respect our pets for what they are – cats and dogs – not creatures put on the earth to fill our emotional voids. What is more, we must look at the cause – our lack of connection with one another – and address it as the serious issue it is.

 

Read more: Life, Pets

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Sarah Cooke

Sarah Cooke is a writer living in California. She is interested in organic food and green living. Sarah holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Naropa University, an M.A. in Humanities from NYU, and a B.A. in Political Science from Loyola Marymount University. She has written for a number of publications, and she studied Pastry Arts at the Institute for Culinary Education. Her interests include running, yoga, baking, and poetry. Read more on her blog.

92 comments

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10:36AM PDT on May 7, 2013

I love animals they are my babies and I do hat I can to fight for their rights

3:09PM PDT on Mar 12, 2013

Thank you Sarah, for Sharing this!

8:42AM PDT on Mar 12, 2013

I believe God intended for people to love and care for animals. That was the design from the very beginning. Of course, we are also supposed to care for people, too. The problem lies in the fact that many adults are seemingly not worth the dust they are made of. They have no respect for others, their love is not deep or true, they do not value the lives of other creatures. Naturally, most people will pull away from humans like that. Animals offer unconditional love and loyalty. When you see the abuses that they suffer at the hands of man, it does make you treasure and even prefer animals all the more. What we have to be careful of, is that we do not become what we see and hate in others. Apathy is such a very great sin. When you avert your eyes and pass by a homeless person as if they did not exist. If it was a dog, most people would stop to help. For all you know, that person could be the kindest soul on the planet. I have witnessed a homeless person leaving a food pantry and sharing their meager bread allotment with the seagulls and pigeons, because they are God's creatures and "They're hungry, too." Children all over the world are suffering and in want, just like puppies and kittens. When you don't show them kindness and assistance, they will grow up being hardhearted and distrustful of people. They may decide that they also love animals more than people, or they may abuse them because they themselves were abused and not shown how to love. Thus, the cycle continues. Teach

12:03PM PST on Nov 22, 2012

I can't imagine my life without my furry family of 2 indoor kitties!

2:15AM PST on Nov 22, 2012

Pets are always happy to see you.They don`t hate you, they do not argue with you.They never lie.They are important to people

10:03PM PST on Nov 21, 2012

Noted,thanks.

1:28AM PDT on Sep 1, 2012

I have to admit I prefer the company of my cats to people, I have been let down by humans all my life and can't relate to them. But with animals I feel a strong sense of connection and love

2:31PM PDT on Aug 31, 2012

Thanks

2:38PM PDT on Aug 24, 2012

I agree, anthropomorphizing pets is never good.

10:45AM PDT on Aug 24, 2012

I can't imagine my life without my furry family. They are wonderful in so many ways.

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