My Dog Is a Pet, Not a Family Member

Prairie Gleanings

Don't confuse pets for family members. They are not even close.

Published on: August 23, 2010
Somewhere along the way, folks stopped treating dogs like pets and they started treating them like family members.

It seems like rural farm folks tend to let their dogs lead an independent life on the farm. On the other hand, urban dwellers pander to their four-legged friend's every need. It makes sense. If you don’t have 100+ acres to entertain your canine, the burden falls on you. In the process, it seems the city folk become so attached, the dog becomes like a son or daughter.

For the longest time, I thought I fell into the second category. Our little 5-lb. Chihuahua is completely dependent on us. While I love that dog, I realized where he stood a few months ago.

On June 10, my wife and son ended up at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. I drove down and handed the dog off to a family member, and went into the emergency room as they awaited a diagnosis. A few hours later, we learned our son has leukemia.

The doctors told us it would be a long stay. It was. We were there for more than 50 consecutive days. During that time period, our dog did not cross my mind. I was so consumed with caring for our son, I almost completely forgot about the dog.

I guess it’s all relative. I still love the dog, but he’s definitely not like a son or daughter.

Unfortunately, HSUS and PETA love to prey on people’s feelings for their pets. They take these feelings and transfer them to livestock. It’s a brilliant strategy. As long as consumers classify dogs along with siblings and children, it works.

And, let’s be honest, feeling the heartache from a dog dying after 10 years is a lot more likely to happen than experiencing the hurt that comes along with hearing your child has a life-threatening illness.

For all the “my animal is a family member” folks out there, before you jump on the animal rights band wagon, I have just one question for you. Would you rather your pet or a loved one be diagnosed with a life-threatening illness?

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  1. Farmgirl6 says:

    Just a pet -- nothing more. There's no comparison between the relationship we have with our children, spouse, parents, etc to one we have with an animal. Growing up on the farm -- and now married to a farmer -- we've gone through our share of pets (ran over on the road, got into rat poison, coyotes, etc). We briefly mourn the loss but get over it (in a relatively short amount of time) and look for another free good-natured mutt to fill the bill. Our farm animals have their role to fill -- either as a companion, someone for the kids to play with, chase off any unwanted critters or something to fill our freezer (cows/pigs) -- and we're perfectly comfortable with that.