My dogs are pretty indulged. Even (dare I confess?) spoiled. They have soft little beds in their kennels, fleecy things I wash regularly, and replace when the dogs chew holes in them. There is an American-made brand of good dog food, and shots, and pill for allergies & arthritis.
But my dogs are NOT my children. And my husband & I have faced the spectre of vet bills for ageing dogs, as well as what our responsibilities to these two members of our family are.
Today I read a post about a family in Norway that recreated their dining room for their bulldog in his boarding kennel. And yes, you read that correctly: they moved a sofa, tables, a dog bed, and other things into Igor the bulldog’s boarding space. Just so he’d be comfortable while they went on vacation.
I see this in acquaintances, and (of course) online. People are taking up collections to give artificial joints to dogs, organ transplants, etc. And I have mostly unmixed feelings about it. Yes, it’s your money. And yes, my dogs ARE beloved members of my family. But the woman who took her daughter’s school funds to buy an extra year or so for her dog? I’m not cool w/ that. Nor do I think that we should be spending $58+ BILLION on our animal friends. We have kids starving to death, folks.
Please don’t misunderstand: I have two beloved dogs, two beloved cats, and I spend a crazy amount on bird feed. So I get it. But I also donate to many children’s organisations, and work HARD as an advocate for the homeless and the poor, here & overseas. And I won’t prolong my dog’s life unnecessarily. Nor my cat’s.
When our dogs and cats have become unable to live full lives, we’ve ‘put them down,’ as the euphemism goes. And I wish with all my heart this was an option for people who are unable to go on. It’s not, at least not in most states. So if I inherit my mother’s Alzheimer’s, I will have to go to Oregon to die with dignity.
Dignity. What a loaded — and vague — word. Not one we usually apply to our pets. But when my cat can’t make the letterbox by himself, and my 14-year-old dog has pneumonia that would leave him unable to breathe w/out intervention? We decided for them: dignity (and a normal animal life) outweighed our desire to keep them with us.
In addition? I don’t feel that my dogs are more important than my grandson. Nor my beloved cats. And on a fixed income, choices can come down to just that. But for those of my friends & families who have animal children, I get that this is just my decision. I wouldn’t impose it on anyone, even if I had that power.
And yet I still think starving children are the saddest thing in this country of so much plenty. This doesn’t lessen the sadness of homeless animals, and animal abuse. I just wish some of the many $$ going to do things like create a living room for a pet in a boarding kennel were going to help a child find a meal…