Wine foil dragonfly:
I spent the weekend at a nearby beach, hanging out with an old friend I’ve known since 8th grade. She talked me into trying out a paddle board.
It was just around sunset, and I was in the drink before I got five feet from the dock. Then I remembered that sunset is feeding time for sharks and got my ass right back on that board.
Please feel free to discuss whatever.
ETA: Good god, what an awful article at Slate from a woman who doted on her dog until she had a kid: “The One Thing No One Tells You Before You Have Kids — Don’t get a dog.”
A friend of mine once told me that before he had a kid, he would have run into a burning building to save his cats. Now that he has a kid, he would happily drown the cats in the bathtub if it would help his son take a longer nap. Here is how I feel about that statement: Velvel [name of author’s unfortunate dog], avoid the bathroom.
It’s not that I don’t love my dog. It’s just that I don’t love my dog. And I am not alone. A very nonscientific survey of almost everyone I know who had a dog and then had kids now wishes they had never got the dog. This is a near universal truth, even for parents with just one child, though I have more.
“Near universal truth”? Maybe among the asshole author’s circle of asshole friends it is. I know plenty of people who manage to have both children and pets without secretly wishing their animals would die.
Wow, that dragonfly is amazing!
Regarding sharks, apparently you look like a seal (as seen from below) when you are on your board paddling. This might explain the occasional attacks of surfers.
c u n d gulag
Isn’t feeding time for sharks, whenever they’re hungry?
I don’t think they wear watches.
Though a few might have some fancy diver-watches in their bellies.
Actually we just had this discussion at the new parent/new baby group I help facilitate. To a woman the new mothers basically said “the cat used to be my baby but he thinks I’m going to give the real baby away and come back to him and I’m just not.” All the ways their cats and dogs act out, or become more needy just backfire and drive a wedge between the owners and the old pet. I’m sorry but that seems to be quite common. My old advisor told me that when I had my first child. She said she could never go back to pets once she had a child because (among other things) she didn’t find that pets were that interesting–they didn’t change and grow rapidly like a child, they weren’t intellectually stimulating.
I’ve loved cats, deeply, when I was younger so I get pet love. But I agree with her in a way–pets are static and that is very soothing to some people. Children are a challenge and their ever changing selves give you a lot to struggle. Some people like one thing, others like another. But its not really at all surprising that having two dependent, cranky, difficult, beings competing for fullownership of your time would result in some reassessing of the relationship.
@aimai: …”Junior used to be my baby but he thinks I’m going to give the new baby away and come back to him and I’m just not.” All the ways their older kids act out, or become more needy just backfire and drive a wedge between the parents and the older child.”
Some people have a limited amount of love to give in their lives. Those people should think carefully about having pets or children.
@greennotGreen: yeah, I see a lot of overreacting like yours to that essay.
Why is it so hard for readers to tolerate imperfections and jokes from writers of puff pieces? People actually do express complicated feelings about both pets and children without those feelings being reflected in cruel behavior or cannibalism, you know. And there are plenty of sentimental parents and sentimental pet owners whose behavior, though they imagine it to be loving, is tantamount to pet hoarding and/or child abuse. How is honestly evaulating your limitations, as a parent or a pet owner, in a joking essay somehow proof that you never should have had a pet or a child in the first place?
The woman wrote a funny puff piece about how her priorities changed w/r/t her pet when she had children. The response from pet owners is to start screeching about how she should “think harder about whether she can be a good parent” since she says of herself (man, have you people never heard about comedy?) that she is no longer a great pet owner?
At the risk of offending nearly everyone who enjoys this blog and its front pagers’ pets, there are those of us who just don’t “get” the whole undying love for animals thing. I have had pets, I like dogs, I tolerate cats, but I just am not capable of having the same type of emotional attachment to an animal that I have with people. It’s a difference in kind, not in degree. Perhaps this is a psychological problem on my part. I think the woman in the Slate article is probably like me but just didn’t know it until she had kids. That makes her kind of unreflective and dumb, which is not atypical of Slate writers.
How psychologically stunted must you be to not be able to love your kids and your pets? This is just about the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of.
Let’s hope the author doesn’t have another kid; she may not be able to love them both at the same time.
@mr.peabody: Oh for christ’s sake. She didn’t say she didn’t love or couldn’t love the pet and the kids. She said that circumstances had changed and that the amount of time and emotional energy she could give to the dog had changed.
People love their pets. They think of their pets as family. They care for their pets with devotion. They mourn their pets when they die. All true. But you know where the comparison breaks down? They go out and get another pet. Ask any parent of a child who died if they can go out and just get another child a fucking week later. My cat loving sister-in-law had the nerve to tell my other sister-in-law whose 9 year old child had just died of a brain hemorraghe “Oh, I know just how you feel. My cat just died.” She has a new cat. My sister-in-law does not have a new 9 year old.
Can we throw the author of that article to the sharks?
I feel like my boys and our dogs grew up together and love each other and can’t imagine our lives without the lessons and love that pets bring.
I found my 6’4″ 17 year old scrunched up on half the couch trying to sleep because our old dog was having trouble with the stairs and he didn’t want to leave him alone. The cats had the other half of the couch and he didn’t want to wake them. I moved the cats so he could stretch out, gave him a blanket and went back to bed a happy mom.
Yeah, maybe my house has not always been perfectly neat and pet hair is a constant battle but we also have plenty of love and empathy and I really believe that loving pets teaches that better than just about anything else.
And then there are people like my parents. When I was born, they had a dog, ~3-4 years old. When I was a few months old, my dad came home with a toy he had bought for me, a rattle or something. The dog got very very excited, and they ended up giving the toy to the dog (at that age, I couldn’t care less). My dad told various shocked relatives that he didn’t have a choice because “the dog had seniority”.
@Mr. Longform: I’m a parent and a pet owner, and it’s not the same kind of attachment, at least not for me. We had a dog when we first became parents (and have always had at least one dog ever since), and it never occurred to me for a second that the dog was a nuisance I’d be better off without. I mean, of course he was a pain in the ass in his way, but he was part of the family.
Aimai makes some good points — maybe I misunderstood the author’s attempt at humor as heartlessness.
I don’t have kids but I don’t get why this has to be an either or. When I got married it did not impact my feelings about my two cats because what I felt about my husband and what I felt about my cats were two entirely different kinds of feelings. Otherwise, eww.
There are people who expect a pet to fill the role of a human friend or child (which is both unrealistic and insulting to the pet) so perhaps once they have the child they don’t feel the need for the pet?
See image #34 –in MA (pay no mind to the expression on the kayaker’s face). Still think I’d rather be in the kayaker than on the board, though….
@aimai: I’m not equating the love for a child and the love for a pet. I’m saying that if you loved your pet before you had kids, you should be able to maintain that love afterwards. If not, then you never really loved it in the first place.
And by no means would I equate the death of a pet to that of a child. Losing a pet is very difficult, but it is nothing compared to the loss of a child.
Maybe I just have pets with more realistic attitudes, but the cats immediately began to curry favor by bonding with our new babies themselves, not competing for our attention, but the baby’s. Both our boys grew up adoring the cats, and the cats ended up with that much more attention.
@aimai: Holy mother. That is a seriously unconscious woman!
@dmsilev: Wow. Dad was a moron. /sorry
If someone has a pet, especially a cat, and a child is added to the equation it can be a problem. Crawling and walking children up to 4-5 years old aren’t good at understanding the small swats and bites cats give to warn them off. It then becomes real bites and scratches. Unfortunately the parents, who always side with the child for obvious reasons, feel the cat has to go. As an observer, ( I have no children), It seems the parents are so overwhelmed with trying to care for their crawling/walking ‘disaster zone’, whom they love to bits, that any thought of how to integrate the cat into the family goes out the window.
It really is a great shame as kids love their pets and I think can become better people growing up with them. But I have seen where parents who wouldn’t consider finding a way because to keep their pet because it was a ‘threat’ to their child and didn’t want the added stress of trying to take the time make make it work with the pet during that initial crawling/walking period. I have to admit my estimation of the people who do that goes down, but as I don’t have children and my family didn’t get pets until we were after the toddler stage, I try to not be too judgmental.
For what it’s worth, I’m not sure that the author made it clear whether it was humor or heartlessness, but why not both? I saw heartlessness in it in that her humor about now hating her poor dog wasn’t even funny. So she’s a sucky writer on top of being a horrible pet owner, a questionable candidate for a second child, and a failed comedienne. She should find a new forever home for that dog and I hope like hell she doesn’t have another child. Sadly, since she writes for Slate, she will continue to publish her sad attempts at comedy.
ETA, Betty that is an awesome sculpture! You are my favorite artist here.
Sadly, it’s true.
I’ve known at least two families that put down their dogs because they had kids. It just disgusts me that they didn’t accept offers to adopt the dogs, they just wanted them dead.
BD of MN
@geg6: I got out of the boat and read the article. The author has three kids 4 and younger and a border collie mix. Her life is uncontrolled and she’s trying to be funny by blaming the dog…
@currants: I mean, given my choice I’d rather be in a kayaker too….
I might have more sympathy for the author’s “humor” if I didn’t volunteer for a rabbit rescue and see the near-constant non-joke cruelty of people who return their (now older and less easily adoptable) rabbits because they have or are going to have a baby. And we’re a rescue that requires them to come back to us and takes them back – those adopted from other places are often dumped or taken to the local shelter.
A lot of our screening process is a futile effort to balance recognizing and avoiding these people with the need to adopt out animals. So for me, an article that helps normalize such attitudes with “everybody does it” doesn’t get a pass because it’s a puff piece.
I don’t want to read the article, I’m sure it is hard to tell what tone it is, typical of Slate. But over and over again, I’ve seen women ruthlessly expunge both dogs and cats, even before the child is born.
While children suck up all available time, and then some, there’s no reason the dog can’t be walked with a baby on board, or the cat curl up with the baby. I always feel a little apprehensive when someone suddenly no longer loves. It indicates it might not have been working right in the first place.
I think it depends on who comes first. We have many young parent friends and, if they had a critter before the kid(s), they know they end up neglecting the pet. If they get a pet and it grows up with the kid(s) it different. Seems pretty normal that people that are juggling work, kid and pets would have less time for the pets. One of the reason’s my bride and I get along so well is that we are devoted to our dogs. It doesn’t mean one damn thing to us if other people understand it or like it.
That’s a red flag for me too. From reading the comments here, I guess this occurrence is more common than I realized. I’ve only known one person in real life who got rid of her dog when she had kids, and this was a person whose life seemed to revolve around that dog — maybe not the healthiest dynamic. Anyway, I always thought less of her after that and felt really sorry for the dog.
It’s the kind of argument I generally avoid: kids / animals. I also avoid the generalized differences between men and women. Everything is x until it turns out that y proves it wrong. But if you make a grand statement someone out there ends up feeling bad. Which is why I greatly prefer to go the anecdotal route.
I had a dog. I had to put him down. I am still devastated. I think I might want to get another dog but probably won’t for a good long time if I do at all.
Also, you can’t put a kid down.
My parents devoted their lives to raising children. That was their career path. Kids grown up and moved out, they’re madly devoted to their dog. My mother talks about dogs as a form of worship to God.
When I was young and my soon to be wife and I got our first dog, a friend who was the first of our cohort to breed said, “Kids are not dogs!” Which is true and I now see people comparing their dogs to kids. But before kids, dogs are as close as you get to that kind of unconditional, adoring love.
This nitwit author will go back to loving dogs once her kids become pre-teens.
Another thing that constantly comes up when one runs a cat blog is how hinky love interests will start their oppressive behavior with “If you really loved me you’d get rid of your pet!”
My mother still weeps over the death of her cocker spaniel, and doesn’t remember the names of her children.
@Geeno: Smart cats. Clearly they sensed babies are great sources of extra food; Either liberally smeared on the face or dropped on the floor.
And there is a long and possibly contentious conversation to be had about people who must have unconditional love and what happens when parents expect it from their offspring.
FYI – Balloon Juice is listed as malware by the service my local courthouse uses, and is blocked. They use Secure Surf Web Protection.
@WereBear: Eww. Yeah, big red flag that.
Conversely, when I see ads claiming someone has to get rid of a pet right away because they’re about to move in with someone who has allergies I find myself hoping the relationship crashes and burns while the pet is in happy in a new home.
I am child free and critter full of my own free will and I’m just throwing out two observations:
1) the “pets are not children” thing, while obviously true, is incredibly condescending. It inherently underscores the difference between critters and kids, but then always assumes that kids are the zenith of awesome and that any love compared to the love of a child is somehow lesser and/or those who have not experienced the love of their own loin fruit have not experienced The Most Grand Thing, ever, let alone the full spectrum of human emotion. But it never recognizes–it never even allows for–an opposing position. To me, love of critters is The Most Grand Thing because I just plain don’t like kids and have zero interest in parenting. A kid would not be epic love swell for me, any more than a lizard-phobe’s acquisition of an Iguana would complete his or her life.
2) I’ve got no beef with self-reflective puff pieces, even when they fail at the self reflection and the puffiness. What does bother me is when people create one, and then turn it into a universal “you’ll seeeee!” piece in order to justify, or feel less alone with, their dickishness.
Betty, I forget if it’s you or Anne that keeps those photogenic chickens. Or anybody here who might have chickens. Since we’re mostly animal lovers here…What do you do when a chicken gets too old to lay eggs?(or maybe they don’t.) Do you let them live out their old age? Does anybody get marked for the stew pot?
@shell: I’m the chicken lady. Some people turn their elder hens into pot pie. I’ll keep mine around, eggs or no eggs.
High production hens average nearly an egg a day for the first couple of years and then taper off. In human terms, that would be like passing an egg the size of a watermelon every single time you ovulate! The way I look at it, those chickens have earned their keep.
But … but … but … it’s the best healthcare system in the world!!!!
Paul in KY
@aimai: Good point. Said by person with 4 cats.
Yeah. I grew up with lotsa pets around, not just my family’s but neighbors’ as well, and never particularly loved any of them. I like dogs, like cats fine. They like me. One of our cats had a litter in my bed while I was sleeping in it, which I thought was pretty cool. (My father decided they were too ugly to give away and euthanized them, which wasn’t so cool, but at that time and at that place not a horrific act.)
In adulthood, I’ve had one pet so far, a dog that I’d have to say I loved. Certainly haven’t tried to “replace” her. We’ll probably get a dog after we move, a date that keeps moving into the distance. But I expect that Gracie was, for me, that One Dog some people talk about.
I think it’s great that people work to reduce the number of unwanted pets, and try to place unwanted pets in homes.
But, no, I don’t get the appeal of starting every morning with a dog’s nose in my armpit. A pet necessarily requires you to organize your life differently; we love the WV state park system. We wouldn’t have found out that out if they hadn’t been so pet friendly. Gracie hated being kenneled, and when she became too much trouble for relatives to take care of, we took her with.
The last year or so of a pet’s life is something (IMO) you have to have signed up for at the outset.
But in the end, she’s the dog and you’re the people.
The dog is n+1 in the pack. The cat is a co-resident, but not a privileged one. In my house, anyway.
(resisting going off into a tangent about dogs and cats cohabiting given they have very different social hierarchies.)
We adopted a yellow Lab puppy [April] when our two girls were five and three. Twenty years later we adopted a chocolate Lab puppy [Gus] as my wife and I were empty nesters.
I have definitely spent more time with Gus than I did with April but it is not because I loved her less or differently because of our children.My wife was the opposite, spending more time with April than with Gus as she was a stay at home Mom then.
Circumstances in our lives had changed [obviously] and I learned a lot from April regarding how to be a better dog owner [I had never had a dog before April]. The importance of regular exercise for both me, my wife, and the dog was also a higher priority now, than it was then.
There was also a substantial “character” difference between the two dogs. April was quieter and sedate and almost perfectly behaved. She also had some health issues which proved a bit of a challenge. Gus is an energetic, needy, mischiveous, and fun loving dog that absolutely requires regular exercise.
April spent sixteen years in our family, and Gus is just coming onto his fifth.
I guess my point of that history is that yes, children change the time available to spend with the dog or cat, or other pet, but there is still time in the day to care and love for all in your family. And those pets [we had/have three cats over that same time period too] are always a part of the family.
I have never understood people’s ability to let a pet go due to some relatively minor changes in family circumstances. I have very little respect for those people.
This! It happened to me. I should have paid attention to the fact the cats didn’t like him much sooner. I learned I needed an animal lover like me and than the FSM I found him.
Also, I’m a shelter volunteer and we have two cats that I know of (some drop offs may very well be included) that were surrendered by owners who had babies and blamed the cat for reacting to the change in the household.
My mom got a cat when I wasn’t even a year old, she felt that as a kid it was good lesson for me to love another creature and experience some responsibility.
Betty’s hens are still quite young; as I recall, she has declared that cooking and eating chickens she has known personally is not how she rolls.
Some moments I find myself mourning the kids I won’t be able to have or adopt-since I was always waiting for the stability of career success. I also fret about keeping my cats for the same reasons I don’t have kids. They’re just different. But if I had a kid or two, the love I feel for my cats would not abate and if there was a fire, I have a plan to toss the two into a box, throw my drives into their nearby bug out bags and haul the kids out of the house. I don’t see how the people you love can somehow be removed as an inconvenience. I’d rather talk to my cats about how the kids need me a little bit more right now and train my kids in how to help care, play and generally spoil their pets in a appropriate manner. This article is… not for me.
@Betty Cracker: if she were sincere in her heartlessness she would have kept it secret.
And gotten rid of the pets. Which you can just do. They’re chattel. Not children.
I’d drown the neighbor’s kids so my kid could have a longer nap.
@Betty Cracker: I think that’s more likely to come from a cat person than a dog person. But I can certainly imagine some of the cat people I know saying that.
One of the hardest parts of condolences for me is avoiding saying “Oh I understand. I just lost my father in February.” Or “My mother died of breast cancer in her 50s.” You think you’re trying to demonstrate sympathy, but what you’re really doing is making it about you.
The closest thing these people have to a child is a pet. It’s a terribly thoughtless thing to say, but understandable.
This may well be the only standard modern journalism follows in the 21st century.
Hell, I’d drown the neighbor’s kids so I could have a longer nap.
dance around in your bones
It has been my experience that the importance of pets waxes and wanes as you go through the child-rearing years. I remember my kid and her soon-to-be husband adopting a golden retriever puppy and just lavishing attention on him and taking him everywhere and even getting his portrait painted.
My husband and I laughed to ourselves, saying ‘wait til the kids start coming – that painting will be relegated to the back room before you know it’. Well, guess what? That happened.
But they still have the sweetie ol’ goldie + 3 kids, and while he’s not treated like the King of Dogs anymore he is loved and well-taken care of and is completely kind and patient with the rowdy boys.
Once the kids are up and out, I have no doubt the animal companions will regain prominence in the household. That’s the way it’s worked for most couples I have known.
P.S. Didn’t read the article. And Betty Cracker? Your wine foil art inspires me! I gotta start drinking wine with foil tops instead of 3 buck Chuck pull off tops. When I win the lottery, which I don’t play – so, oh well. I will live vicariously through your art.
@gussie: Fortunately your second amendment rights permit a simpler solution than drowning. If you live in the right state.
I have always thought that a dog was great practice for having a kid. You have to potty train the dog, you have to train your dog, you have to consider your dog in your plans going out – do you leave him in the bedroom, kennel, whatever – you have to make time to have fun, and the list goes on. Thankfully, the learning curve with a dog is much shallower that with a child. You forget to have the dog in his place before you leave, you just have some food missing, and some cleanup to do when you get home. Try the same thing with a child, and you might do time for child endangerment. I thought that having our dog Calvin was a great blessing when we were raising our two daughters. Most of their issues we had already dealt with in some way with our dog.
Also, having a dog around taught me to put the seat cover down on the toilette. My wife never could.
True. Which is why I tend to keep it at “I’m sorry” and “Is there anything I can do to help” rather than airing a laundry list of the personal tragedies I’ve endured.
Herbal Infusion Bagger
What aimai said. My uncle and aunt lost their four day-old son decades ago. My uncle told me there’s not a day goes past that he doesn’t think of that son.
Losing a pet is sad and tragic, but you get over it and can go to the pound.
Losing a kid marks your life permanently. I don’t think you ever get over it.
I don’t care if that article is intended as a puff piece or not, it gives backup and justification to selfish people who dump their animals because of a new boyfriend/girlfriend/child. I had my cats and dogs before I had my husband or my daughter, and I would no sooner have given my pets away than I would give away any other family member. My dogs used to sit in my lap and let me rest the baby on their backs while I was feeding her. One of the cats used to nap in her crib with her. I think it has been very good for my daughter to grow up with pets, and if it all took a little extra work on my part, then oh well.
Sorry for the crankiness, but people like that author make me furious. I was at the shelter once and saw a very sad man turning in a beautiful cat while his mean-looking girlfriend looked on. I have to confess- I made a comment about how awful it was he was turning in his furry friend, which caused him to tear up and his girlfriend to give me a dirty look. I thought he should have turned the girlfriend in.
The larger issue here is how some people use the fact of parenthood as an all purpose moral get-out-of-jail-free card. Not just this stuff but working at heinous jobs for heinous companies and more broadly starting wars “to protect our women and children.”
One of my formative events, years ago, was answering an ad advertising a **17 yo dog** for adoption. We assumed the situation was that some elderly person was entering a nursing home and needed a new home for their cherished companion. We thought it would be a mitzvah to adopt under those circumstances, so answered the ad.
Unfortunately, we were almost right. There was an elderly person going into a home, and her tiny beloved poodle up for adoption. But the person who answered the ad was the woman’s son, who, despite living in the same town, with four kids AND a dog of his own in a big house, couldn’t make room for this tiny poodle, his mother’s cherished companion of nearly two decades. When I asked why not, I’ll never forget his total-nonsequitor answer: “Do you have kids? If you don’t have kids you wouldn’t understand.”
When we called back a week later to arrange the details we learned the poodle had died – probably of a broken heart.
@different-church-lady: See, I’m afraid to go down that particular road, because it’s my kid who mucks up my own personal naps …
@Hillary Rettig: That’s so sad. And yeah, you’re right about kids often being used as a moral “get-out-of-jail-free” card. It’s bullshit.
You know, if you discover after you have kids that you never really loved the dog or the cat, then give the damn thing away to people who will love it and take care of it. Why punish the poor animal for your own lack of feeling?
Yes, I know, pets =/= kids, but that’s not an excuse for neglecting the pet or “joking” about killing it because it’s inconvenient to you now.
I hate it when people use their children as a justification for their selfish behavior and choices.
I hate it when people use their children as a justification for their selfish behavior and choices, oh I can’t to do xy and z because children.
Oh, please. I’ve had kids. And dogs. And cats. And a rabbit and a parrot and hamsters and turtles. All at the same time.
And the kids LOVED it. They were part of the impetus behind having so many pets. And I was a Mom who could not say NO to two pleading faces.
Growing up, we always had a dog. And I used to have friends over who loved the dog more than me; because they couldn’t have pets at their house. I’ve never met a kid who doesn’t want animals around.
And, yes, I have friends who gave their dog away after their first daughter was born — between their two full-time jobs and her daycare, the poor dog was spending most of the day in his crate. So they looked around and found a nice retired couple who could devote a lot of time to the dog and everyone was happy, including the dog.
If you discover you can’t handle having both children and a pet, there are ways to resolve the problem without being a neglectful asshole.
ETA: I guess that’s part of my problem with the article — IMO, a lot of pet owners assume their pet is a lot more attached to them than it really is and would never be happy in a new home, so the only choice is to keep the pet but resent it. If you resent having a pet, for god’s sake, re-home it!
Ted & Hellen
Yeah…that pet/child article is a little pathological.
Of course, that’s the trending style of writing on the Intertrons: Feign a semi outrageous/edgy stance on a subject touchy with a certain demographic, then watch the comments and page clicks pile up.
This style is very popular at BJ.
Also too. Love my dogs Ted and Hellen, but I do believe way too many pet owners emotionally connect with their animals as though they WERE human and expect and project human-style emotions and behavior and motivations onto their pets.
Which is not fair to the animals. They are, you know, animals, not humans.
This behaviot too is very popular at BJ.
This article has me so upset. I don’t care if it was a joke or not, as someone who does rescue, I see cats given up all the time because people are about to have a baby and it breaks my heart. The cats aren’t even doing anything, they’re being affectionate, they’re not in the way, but they’re dumped at the shelter and left to die.
Right now half of the fosters in my house are “baby on the way” give-ups. I’ve spoken to a few of these couples and they’re so matter-of-fact about it. Of course you give up your pets when you’re about to have a baby, along with cleaning out the spare bedroom and taking out the trash. I’m seeing this attitude more and more and I don’t get it.
For the record, cats aren’t humans. I don’t expect anyone to love them the same way, but they are deserving of love and humane treatment. And far too often, I’ve seen people use children as an excuse to be jerks in general. My brother, who is young and strong, just refused to help my mother, who has two bad knees and is in her sixties, move. He’s working on a family, he said, he doesn’t even have kids yet, and he’s just too busy to be able to help. So though I’m not nearly as strong, I’ll have to do the moving myself.
@Big R: argh. sorry.
I rescued an older beagle and she kept snapping at my toddler, so I found another home for her. Usually, though, dogs and kids are a great combination–especially when the kid is having a bad day. He/she retreats to the bedroom and snuggles the dog. Instant therapy. Also, one of my friend has taught his dog, “Find Bobby.” No matter where Bobby hides, the pup trots off and locates him. Another thing–t
he dog will save the kid from sitting in a TV coma: find the Frisbee and take it to the dog, who will keep nudging the kid until they go outside. And on and on…
Our genetic programming is scary powerful. Husbands? Never ask her if she would save you or the kid if only one could live. It’s like someone flipped a switch in the delivery room. And half the time, a husband would save the kid before his wife. Never have this conversation.
Ted & Hellen
You’re saying there were people willing, able, and ready to adopt the dogs and rather than let them have them, which would cost nothing and solve the problem, these alleged families went out of their way to have them killed?
Either there is a lot more to this story or you made it up.
I think this is really more about dogs than cats as they require much more time. In any event, as the father of 3 girls we have never been pet-less. At the moment we have 3 cats (a pound kitten we got on purpose 5 years ago and 2 more recent rescues). We also have a yellow lab, our second. On top of that we have a turtle and a 150 g aquarium.
Here’s the thing. Dogs need to get outside and kids need to get outside. These people need to put down the remote and spend their evenings and weekends getting outside with their kids and dogs. My kids know their Saturday morning cartoons are going to get cut off at around 8:30 am because we’ll be off doing some type of hiking adventure with the yellow lab. He is their dog too and I put up with no whining when it comes to getting the kids out of the house. Luckily here in Central Texas I have a wealth of places to take the kids and dog hiking that can be off leash at least in places. The kids have a blast and the dog has a blast. Win-win.
In the evenings when it is time to walk the dog I usually take at least one kid with me, especially if the weather is nice. They know it is part of their duties. Gives me a chance to spend an hour or so with one of my kids talking about the day or whatever. I don’t make them get up at 5:30 for the morning walk though….that is my podcast time. And when I am out of town the older ones are responsible for dog walking. It is how they earn their allowance. In fact, I helped my oldest make up business cards saying “_______’s Dog Walking Service” which she took around and put in the mailboxes of all the houses in our neighborhood and how has regular clients every holiday who pay her excessively to show up 2-3 times a day to feed and walk their pets. Her pet money is actually better than her babysitting money and the work is easier.
@FoxinSocks: Doesn’t “working on a family” in that case, if it’s even true, mean “I can’t help, I’ll be busy fucking”? Ewwwww.
I did not need that mental image! It means his wife had a miscarriage a few months ago and I suspect she’s pregnant again and yes, he’s been keeping busy reading parenting books but come on, he can help move some boxes. That’s what it means.
@WereBear: yes, and a few years later we had four foster kids and four dogs and managed to accommodate all. Moreover, the dogs brought out love in the kids. Love is not simply a renewable resource but a self-generating one.
@Mnemosyne: yes the probably with her shitty article is it’s going to give uncaring people even more cover and justification for ignoring or abandoning their companion animals.
btw, to everyone on this thread, one of the best things you could do to start alleviating situations like this is to start referring to your dog/coat/etc. as your “companion” (not pet) and yourself as his/her “guardian”. “pet” = property.
@dinah: one of our teenaged foster kids was super isolated, surly, etc. hard to get near him. in fact the only one who *could* get near him was our sweet little baby dog Comet – one of those ubercute dogs who looks like a stuffed animal in real life.
No one was allowed in B’s room *except* Comet, who was allowed free access. :-) one reason was that Comet was being picked on by one of the other dogs and so B gave him sanctuary, and so B was able to express his softer side. it was a win/win for everyone.
@FoxinSocks: agreed. what an ahole.
@Hillary Rettig: Here’s a hearty “kids need pets” vote. Did I receive pet therapy as a kid from my cats and dog? Yes. Was it extremely valuable? More than you can imagine, especially if you’ve never had a pet.
Lack of empathy seems to be an issue these days, and learning to care for animals while a child certainly helps with that. Our neighbors are a mix of “never had a pet” (husband) and “always had tons of animals on the farm” (wife). He has zero empathy for their two cats; it isn’t active hostility, just a complete lack of caring at all. I hope that as the kids get older their mom will do a good job of teaching them to care for the cats (the kids love the cats), and I hope that why the litter boxes are always awful when we pet sit is because she’s a busy mom with 2 little kids. Dad’s lack of empathy tweaks me though; I hope the kids don’t pick it up.
Before I had children, there was Cody. When I die, if there is a heaven, there will be Cody, waiting patiently – at least until he’s said hello, after which he will sigh dramatically and turn his back, because I made him wait. He was the uber dog. He was dog colored (everything save blue, but maybe if I’d looked harder, I could have found some). He got Christmas cards from people we’d met in our travels. I cannot imagine ever wishing harm to the the companion who kept me safe and sane throughout most of my 20s. He did not like children, but he tolerated mine with great sighs and eye rolls and looks that said “Really? You had to?” But when my son was sick, Cody slept under the crib, so he could tell me if the boy stopped breathing.
Anyone who wants to murder their animals simply because they now have children should not be allowed anywhere neither either.
I got a cat from neighbours who gave the reason that the son’s girlfriend was going to have a baby. I even offered to help train the cat to behave around the baby, but they said no. (Turns out he’s an eminently trainable cat, too.)
Given the shape the cat was in when I got him (half-starved, half-feral, not neutered, and not vaccinated), and the number of animals they’ve cycled through in the five years or so I’ve been living here (three cats, two dogs, some kind of caged rodent, and who knows what else), I’ve come to the conclusion they’re just serial animal abusers and that was just their excuse. So there is that, as well.
(Of course, that leaves me in a kind of ethical bind: I really rather want to report these people for abusing their animals — the number of animals isn’t the whole story by a long shot — but I’m afraid they’ll find out it was me and bad things will happen.)
I hate people who give up their animals because they have kids (my parents had a five-year-old cat when I came along), and I’m thoroughly in the camp that says publishing this article was really irresponsible, because it gives cover to people who think animals are disposeable.
I used to tell the teen-age Girl Scouts in my troop that there was much in common between training dogs & small children, and that if people would realize that, there would be better-behaved children in the world. The ones with good parents got it. The ones with the parents who never set limits & let them run wild till they crashed & burned were always sort of confused.
@Kent: Great attitude. We have 3 kids, 3 cats & one dog, and I agree, the pets made parenting easier and life generally better for the kids. I always thought it was sad when I’d be at the store buying the jumbo size of cat litter, & someone always had to comment about scooping the litter box. I’d say “my kids do it” & they’d be astonished: “How do you get kids to do that?”!!
I say “Whose turn is it to clean the box?”
I mean really, if by the time they are 10 they don’t have some sort of responsibilities around the house, you are out of hope.
@aimai: I just read it. By the end it doesn’t sound like she’s joking, much:
“I never heard them yell, “GOD WHY ARE YOU ALWAYS UNDER FOOT?” They never regretted him.
I cannot in good conscience tell you every thing I think on the subject of my dog Velvel. Yes, there’s more.”
Which do you recommend: paper training the kids or toilet training the dogs?
A friend of mine once told me that before he had a kid, he would have run into a burning building to save his cats. Now that he has a kid, he would happily drown the cats in the bathtub if it would help his son take a longer nap
He sounds like he shouldn’t have pets OR children.
Less Popular Tim
particularly in that having (your own) children isn’t exactly the most selfless thing one can do in the first place.
I swear, rich Americans (the kind who write for Slate) are the most useless people on God’s earth. Mankind has had pets for thousands of years, and womankind has been cleaning up hairballs and yelling, “Ahmed, don’t let the baby pull the cat’s tail, he’ll scratch!” for just as long. But these yuppie college-“educated” life forms can’t figure out how to manage an extra household member or two. And these are very often the kind of people who end up being your boss.
As a young adult I irresponsibly got a dog that I didn’t care for enough. I had a poor understanding of what it took to provide for a dog.
It isn’t that I didn’t love the first dog. I was immature. The dog suffered for it, and eventually I gave the dog away.
As a middle-aged adult, when I decided to get a dog I knew what I was doing. I adore my dog. She is a Pitt-lab mix, mostly black with white on her paws and tummy. I dress her in pink tutus and sparkly collars. She is vaccinated, fixed, and cared for, unlike my first dog that I neglected.
Maybe her issues aren’t heartlessness, but lack of wisdom–the kind you acquire with age. Or maybe she just doesn’t get it. Whatever. I choose to make my dog Pearl a big part of my life, and I hope she’ll be there for my 65th birthday. But I recognize to a lot of people a dog is just an animal, like any other farm animal. I think their lives are a little colder, but it takes all kinds.
I love stories about an author’s psychosis that they are desperately trying to convince us is normal and common.
@cckids: Same with my students.
I’m a nonbreeder and I’ve always loved basically any animal (obvs I have a thing for birds). What bothers me most about this article is how breeders seem oblivious that some people do love animals more than humans. And moreover assume that such a predisposition must be wrong somehow. And they act all surprised that somebody might be offended about “jokes” that they want to kill their animal so they can focus on their ankle biters – like the earth needs more humans.
My brother and his wife treat their cat, dogs, turtles, and human babies all the same. I love them for it! They are awesome that way. Some other members of my family don’t get it. Well, deal with it. Some people give a shit about animals. If you don’t, then don’t adopt one, or worse, BUY one. And don’t aact surprised if animal lovers call you out when you joke about senselessly killing them.
@FoxinSocks: Parrots, being basically undomesticated but tamable wild animals, get the same treatment and end up on Craig’s list. But they are so expensive. Makes no sense. Why spend 500 bucks in the first place? Humanity’s treatment of animals, especially with the excuse of the upcoming baby, makes me sick. Kudos to those who have at least half a heart and figure out how to make mixed species families work. It doesn’t seem like it would be hard to me but what do I know, I don’t want human kids lol.
And my final comment on this stale thread. “I know pets are not the same as kids” is the new “I can talk about gun regulation because I own a gun.”
I grew up with cats (and a dog until I was 4). I had three cats when I met my wife-to-be, and she is just zero with any animal; had a dog growing up and ignored it. I found good homes for the cats, but she still doesn’t understand what I gave up for her.
I hit the bookstore for cat laptime, and the neighbor’s dogs all love to see me come by. I have no kids, but bringing up my cats does help me with my grand-nieces, who often come for long visits. If I can train a cat to leave a cuckoo clock alone, anything is possible.
@Ted & Hellen:
You’re right. The breeder offered to take the dogs back so long as they weren’t sterilized, but they were sterilized and the dogs went to the pound where presumably they were euthanized.
@soylentH: “I love stories about an author’s psychosis that they are desperately trying to convince us is normal and common. ”
And what’s worse, this loathsome little pinhead is actually “the managing editor of Slate’s Double X.”
Wonder what she’ll do when the kids get too tiresome. Maybe they should avoid the bathroom as well.