Dealing with the death of a pet is, for some people, an event from which they never recover.  Where once we just buried pets in the backyard under a foot of dirt — or dumped the carcass in the trash bin like garbage–many now honor their deceased pets with cremation, mausoleums, headstones and other burial rites that were formerly reserved in the domain of people.


Why do you think we become so attached to our pets?

Is it because they rely on us and we enjoy the feeling of being needed?

Do we love our pets more than people because we know our pets will not betray us?

Or is our pet adoration the purest example of unconditional love?  Our pets love us without merit or want — while people always have a way of disappointing us and mitigating devotion and placing restrictions on human emotion?

Have we gone too far in humanizing our pets instead of continuing to find true humanity in other people?

18 Comments

  1. I remember when I was taking care of a cat for a girl I was dating and when the relationship ended, I was sad that I wouldn’t be able to see the cat anymore. That was a good cat. I did rather enjoy the feeling of being needed by the cat; that was somewhat absent in the human relationship I had going on at the time, so it seemed all the more prominent.
    I think I am the worst offender of humanizing non-humanity. See: a grown man who takes his three favorite bears with him to movies and concert events. See: a grown man who has put up an entire web site dedicated to one of the bears ‘giving advice’ as it were.
    Oh, the humanity. 🙂

  2. Animals have a raw sort of kindness that is appealing. They can turn on you or accept you. I think that’s the challenge within us all, David. How can we connect with nature again? We do it through the animal kingdom when we’ve had enough of each other.

  3. Love the analysis, Gordon! I think there is great pleasure in caring for animals. Sure, they’re wild, but without us they would be cruelly feral and they would not live very long. Domesticated animals round out the human experience, while, I believe, zoos remove us from the human experience they are trying to propagate.
    You’re right about fetishising your fake animal love! You are certainly goodly obsessed and I love it!

  4. David!
    I think we love pets for all those reasons and more! We stopped having dogs after our last one died suffering in the middle of the night. I think once we had three cats at the same time (not counting litters of course). There’s just the one cat now.
    between, cats and dogs? that’s a tough one to call!
    Do you have any pets at home?

  5. David —
    The one here is called Jhenu (which is Kannada for honey) and we inherited her from a friend who was moving and couldn’t take cats to the apartment she was moving to. She’s tri-colour and a regular housecat!

  6. Love it, Dananjay! I bet you have many stories about her you could share with us!
    I’m so glad you were able to take her in — it’s heartbreaking when we’re forced to give up our animals in order to be given housing. I’d never do it. No Jack? No me!
    During hurricane Katrina people were forced by rescuers to abandon their pets. Terrible! That federal policy has changed now and people, when being evacuated due to emergencies, are allowed to take their pets with them.

  7. That was a good read, David! Thanks! Although, I must say, I know a few dog people who don’t really fit that description! Is that Jack in the picture?

  8. I’m glad about that change in policy, David.
    for the sake of both people and their pets. not only are pets a great source of comfort and solace right after such disasters. but knowing that you’ve left your pet to die must make things worse for people who’re already in trauma and shock.

  9. Right, Dananjay! People are very attached to their pets now. Our Vet told us that 20 years ago if I dog took ill, people put the dog to sleep and got a new dog.
    Today, people want their pets to live as long as possible and they’ll spend $6,000.00USD on a hip replacement for a dog if necessary.

  10. David,

    Today, people want their pets to live as long as possible and they’ll spend $6,000.00USD on a hip replacement for a god if necessary.

    Was that an intentional or unintentional writing of the bolded word backwards? I would imagine unintentional but either way it really highlights the way that people treat their pets; as a higher being!

  11. Whooops! I’ve been doing that all day, Gordon! I corrected “god” into “dog” at least three times and one snuck by! I’ll go fix it now, thanks!

  12. Hi David,
    You either love “them” or you don’t!!!
    I am not sure if they are a substitute for human companion, human partners are easy to deal with because most of the time they are on the same emotional and intellectual level – so the reciprocation is mutual.
    Managing a pet needs more compassion and patience, makes a one a better human being.
    You can lose your cool with a human being around you, can’t do it with a pet for obvious reasons.
    Finding true humanity in others is a tough teamwork – can’t be done alone!
    Finally, Love the catchline!