Monday, June 8, 2009

What's in a pet?

I was listening to This American Life on Sunday and there was a story by Jay Allison trying to figure out what he needed to get to make his new house a home (15-minutes well worth spending if you have the time). His children suggested a dog to keep him company. This was a very illuminated story.

Mr. Allison told a very captivating account of his three children explaining what kind of dog he should get, and why he needs a dog. He then called a few people selling dogs and talked with them about why they have dogs, and why he should have a dog. Most of the responses were about the dog filling an emotional need.

One man said his father was overbearing, and his dog was a steady source of affirmation. Another woman said she was in a marriage where he husband beat her and she sometimes went to bed not knowing if she would wake in the morning, and her dog gave her the love she needed to survive. All of them talked about the unconditional love and companionship one gets from the animal.

Now I understand utility animals, so I'm only talking about companion animals - pets.

I love animals. I love both cats and dogs. I've had both my whole life until I was married. But I'm married now, so why do I need a pet? I have all the acceptance and love I could possibly want.

I think this is why my attitude has changed over the past few years. I've been offered pets (even a purebred golden retriever puppy!) and I've turned them down. I think I've been justifying it from a monetary standpoint - I don't need to spend the money keeping an animal, nor the time to care for it. But listening to these interviews I think it's because I don't need the companionship of an animal anymore. Instead of what I could get from a relationship with a pet, I have been looking about what I would have to give. I've never done that before.

I've always known having an animal was work, but but it payed off in the companionship. But a marriage is also work, and it pays off more than any pet could ever give.


spinning said...

maybe someday you and your wife will want to bring a rescued animal into your family - who knows?

animals provide companionship for us, but responsible folks with animals are also giving of themselves to those animals. it's a two-way street.

and i do think there is a close relationship between learning to be kind and compassionate toward animals and the same with other human beings... there is much to learn from animals, overall. (I think.)

so i would suggest leaving your options open, perhaps. :)

e2c said...

one other though: animal companionship is different from human companionship. I don't think it's a substitute for human companionship. (I used to believe that, before adopting an animal as an adult... now, not so much.)