Who's walking who?
|Why do we have pets?
This is a question I have been walking around for some time now, and I've finally come to the realisation that the reason I have been unable to answer satisfactorily is because the initial question has always been wrong. We don't have pets.We keep pets.
So why do we keep pets?
When I was a kid we had a dog that my father found in a hospital car park. My father assumed he was a stray and took pity on him. Dad bundled him into the car and brought him home. We called him Jack. He was a Jack Russell so it seemed appropriate. None of us gave any thought as to whether Jack had been known by any other name prior to his arrival at our home. Who cared? We had a dog that wagged its tail when we called his name. As far as we were concerned he was happy, which made us happy.
One day I left the front door open and Jack bolted. My father was devastated, and guilt dug a hole in my chest I thought would be permanent. He had come to love that dog. I remember Jack being sick under my parents bed and my father grabbing him by the scruff of the neck, pressing his muzzle into the discarded pool until he got the message and began to lick it all up. My father said it was the best thing, a lesson learnt, so that Jack would think twice about doing it again. Whenever Jack barked too much the best thing to shut him up was a clout across the bridge of his nose. He would whimper for a short while but it made him think twice about barking. Another valuable lesson learnt via the tutelage of love.
I wonder how Jack must have felt. I can only surmise his perspective but my guess is that it went something like this: Just out walking one day, sniffing around, his curiosity piqued by a friendly-looking man in need of some attention. Politely licking the man's hand and allowing himself to be picked up, all of which he was used to. Then things start to get a little strange. Perhaps this was his first ride in a car, swaying from side to side, but the man looks happy so things must be okay. Arriving at the man's house and his surprised children, enjoying the petting and attention. They even give him some food that he has never seen before, but he watched them eat it so it must be fine. Then the lights eventually go out and Jack is alone. This is not his home. He has no idea where he is. This is his life for the next six months. When he gets sick he is forced to eat it. When he protests he is slapped. When an opportunity arises to escape he is gone, never to be seen again.