By: Jeff Katz – June, 2016
I was asked recently why I hate animals and I must confess I was stunned. I could not understand how anyone could even imagine that I hated animals. I am a passionate supporter of conservation programs to help safeguard wildlife. I am both a dog and a cat person but I do draw the line at four legs when it comes to pets. Four legs and under it’s a pet. More than four legs it’s a pest. But I’m not alone in that so that couldn’t be the reason that someone thought I hated animals, right?
I asked this person directly what made them think that I hated animals. “I am a pet parent and you mock that idea” was their response. Ah, now I understood. Someone who believes that owning an animal is the same as being a parent was using their own faulty logic to make the outrageous claim that I hate animals.
The reality is that I do love animals and have owned many pets over the years. Cats with bad attitudes often hung out with this Katz and his bad attitude. Two of my favorite pets over the years were dogs that The Bride and I shared our home with early in our marriage.
Hogan was a mutt. Short, stocky, yellow. Part pitbull, part Labrador, part Buick. He was a brilliant dog. When we first got him, he hated me with a passion. He made that abundantly clear but I decided to change his mind. A few visits to the local drive through and a couple of burgers later and Hogan was all onboard with me as the leader of his pack.
Annie was our purebred Irish wolfhound. We bought her from one of Ireland’s leading breeders and had her shipped to the states. She was tall and regal and beautiful and truly dumb as a box of rocks. The sort of dopey that necessitated bringing her inside every time it rained for fear that she would look up at the sky with her mouth open and drown. She was also amazingly sweet and friendly and a great addition to the squad.
Annie and Hogan were a wonderful tag team. It always looked like Hogan was the brains of the outfit and Annie the brawn, but neither one of them would have inflicted an injury worse than a very wet face from a lot of licking. Annie stood six feet tall on her hind legs and weighed about 135 pounds but she was completely convinced that she was still a puppy and wanted nothing more than to sit in your lap. Hogan’s biggest regret in life was that he did not have opposable thumbs. If not for that, he’d be ruling the roost. They were our version of Pinky and The Brain.
We loved Annie and Hogan but we never once considered them our children. We also had two cats at the time, Bailey and Pudge, but at no time did we refer to ourselves as their parents. We owned these wonderful creatures. We adored them and happily took care of them, but never expected anyone to send us a card for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day as a result of maintaining our menagerie.
In recent years, some pet owners have begun to christen themselves as pet parents. Some of these folks are well intentioned I’m sure but using that title really demeans and diminishes the role of real parents. It’s insulting to all of us who are actually mothers and fathers.
The most ridiculous outgrowth of the inane pet parent movement is the call for “paw-ternity” leave, which is now a demand of some of the more delusional pet owners. The purchasers of pets are now demanding that they be given paid time off from work when they buy an animal.
The other day I read an article in the New York Post, which quoted a cat owner who said, “While my co-workers with kids walk out the door at 6 p.m., no one seems to care that I also have a child at home waiting for dinner.” Sorry to burst your bubble but you don’t have a child waiting for you at home. You have a pet. Not a “fur-baby” and certainly not a child.
Please take care of your pets. Love those dogs and cats and birds and fish. Don’t hurt or abuse them. Be responsible caring custodians and caretakers to those creatures. Do right by them, but unless you also have fur and paws you are not their parents no matter how many silly cards Hallmark tries to sell you.
Jeff Katz is a former police officer, former talk show host on Talk1200AM and won the Associated Press Award for Best Talk Show In Boston two years in a row. He is now an exclusive columnist for The Valley Patriot. You can email him at email@example.com.