I have a guest post for you today, penned by my beloved. Enjoy!
This is our dog Katie. This morning like most mornings I woke up with her cuddled at my feet. We got Katie shortly after our son Gabriel died to keep the mice away from me so I could actually sleep a little bit. It turns out that not only was she fantastic at keeping the mice away she has also been an amazing emotional support; I have cried into her fur more often than I can count. Katie is a great cuddler and would love to spend all day on my lap. This is a GREAT dog!! She is patient with my kids, she protects me in my scary basement, and she literally helped me up when I tripped over my own feet while walking her.
Gabriel is much loved, and was cared for by every member of this family. We miss him everyday, we see him in rainbows, and there is a hole in our family that nobody can fill. Our life ended the day that Gabriel’s did. We are still trying to figure out what life without him is supposed to be like (Our children bring gifts to the cemetery like its normal).
So maybe it’s kind of understandable that when our vet sends us mail about our “fur baby”, or I see people on facebook comparing the loss of their pets to the loss of a child, or I read stories about support groups for grieving for your furry child, I want to scream. Of course people love their pets, and of course they mourn their passing (I saw my dog run over as a child and it was awful).
But. Pets. ARE. NOT. PEOPLE. Full stop. They just aren’t. There is no comparison, and moreover it is exceedingly offensive when you try to humanize them. Its not great for your pets either; pretty much every “problem pet” show on TV starts with the humans learning to treat their pets like animals.
Let me say it again: Pets ARE NOT PEOPLE. I love Katie, but she would not be in our home if Gabriel still was. Katie can never replace my SON, and in all honesty I would go Michael Vick on her in a second if it meant I could have one more cuddle with my baby.
Pets ARE NOT PEOPLE… we expect that our pets will die and that we may even have several over a lifetime. The sadness of losing a pet is real, but it is not the deep ache of losing a person.
Pope Francis expressed concern recently that after food, clothing, and shelter, the fourth and fifth largest expenses in the developed world are cosmetics and pets. This bespeaks seriously disordered priorities, elevating pets to the status of children, or worse demoting children to the status of pets. Imagine if instead of the vanity of cosmetics, and the vanity that is much pet ownership (I’m looking at you, purse pups), we were actually funding children and family resource centers, or welcoming these least among us into our homes?
Pets ARE NOT PEOPLE, and treating them as such demeans both them and the people around us. Pets are awesome, and can be beloved members of a family - pet members. But referring to them as our “fur babies” or our “furry children” tells of a radical ignorance of the unique dignity of animals, and the unique dignity of people, and should be concerning to those who care both for the people God has made, and the creation with which he has entrusted us.