Wednesday, June 10, 2015

This is a dog...

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.

Katie is much loved, and very well cared for/spoiled by every member of this family. But...Katie is NOT my child, she is NOT my “furbaby”. Katie fills the role of loved dog in the Evans family.

This is our Son Gabriel. He died when he was 7 weeks old. For 40 weeks he caused my body to grow and change. I had morning sickness almost constantly with this little guy, I got stretch marks in places I didn’t know it was possible to get stretch marks in, and my feet, legs, hips, and back hurt almost constantly as his birthday approached. Gabriel was also the first child I had without an epidural (NOT by choice). After he was born I lost a pretty huge part of my bodily autonomy because wierldly newborns like to eat a lot. While he was with us I was exhausted almost constantly and my world revolved around feeding and changing and cuddling my son while trying to make sure his siblings got mommy time too. It was hard, but I loved it. Gabriel is AWESOME (literally his life filled me full of awe and wonder)!! He could cry specifically for me, look around the room for his brother and sister, and melt his daddy’s heart.

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.

39 comments:

  1. I think your first problem is that because you believe in your god that gives you the right to place humans above animals. Everything is life your belief in a fairy tale has no relevance to the contrary. I am very sorry for your loss however saying that you would (i assume murder) your dog to get one more cuddle with your SON is sick and twisted. Your SON has as much right to life as a dog, cat, bird, flower, tree or what-have-you.

    Grow up

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, Aristotle has a pretty well fleshed out description of the modalities of life (plant, animal, and rational), so it doesn't actually have much to do with my faith. More than that it takes only simple empirical observation to see that animals and people - while sharing certain similarities - are not the same. I'm sorry that you are offended by reality.

      Delete
    2. All sentient life matters and plays an important part of life on a global scale.

      Delete
    3. You are a heartless crazy bitch. If you would consciously hurt an animal you could do the same to a child. I buried my first born at 3 yrs, my son died in Afghanistan----mess not over yet and last year my daughter--- head on by a drunk, still in court. I am thankful when I get home I have 2 rescue cats-furbabies I don't call them--- as they cuddle and give me solice. Pick up the pieces and move on or stay biter and hurt others. I am still in the middle of this disaster.

      Delete
    4. Sure, no argument there. Not even close to the point of the post, or of my reply. That A is more important than B does not deny the importance of B. That B is important does not imply that it is as important as A.

      Delete
    5. And Mary, I am so sorry for your loss, and I'm glad that you find solace in your animal companions, but they cannot replace your children, and you and I both know this. Nothing can replace a lost child, as much as we wish it might. That is the very point of the analogy, that as much as we love our dog, if in some fantasy land where her death would bring back our children, we wouldn't think twice, because she is not our child.

      But this is not the case. Nothing we can do can bring our son back. Not pretending that our dog is our child. Not pretending that she is equal to him in any way. Nothing.

      I am so sorry for what has happened to you. I hope you find healing and peace.

      Delete
  2. Wow. Well, agree that your first problem is you base your life value system on a fairytale. For someone who claims there is no comparison, you do a lot of comparing--even considering torturing your companion (that's just sick--yuck). If your biggest problem is people calling their pets their furbabies, you must live in a very, very comfortable world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did I get linked on /r/atheism or something? The fairytale maneuver is just... Man, I can't take you seriously if that's all you're going to bring to the table.

      Delete
  3. You profess to be a Godly person, but would torture an innocent creature for your selfishness. Give me Humanism any day over misguided religious dogmas and the lack of respect for other animals that we share on this planet,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pretty sure it is impossible to bring a child back from the dead by killing a dog, so I am simultaneously sure that our dog, who we treasure as a valued part of our family, is safe. Also, talk to Aristotle, and pretty much all of humanity ever who recognize that while sharing many traits, humans are separated from animals by the possession of reason, and humans are worth infinitely more than animals.

      Seriously though, what really bugs me is that first line: where did I say I was a Godly person? I profess to be legit, and that is totally different. I am legit, but Godly is like a whole other level above that, and I am in no way worthy to claim being Godly. Probably a typo, can you point out where you read that?

      Delete
    2. She says wonderful things in gratitude for her dog companion. Her expression regarding what she would do for one more snuggle with her son is a normal reaction for a woman grieving loss of her infant whom she carried for nine months, birthed, then had to bury shortly after. You lack humanism if you can't have sympathy for that deep sentiment of grief, Jackie.

      Delete
  4. If you love anyone, how are you even capable of thinking of torturing a living, breathing creature who LOVES you? Dogs are NOT people, but they are more innocent than people, and therefore more deserving of our love and respect, whereas people are often vile, evil, and disgusting, the worst of the worst, just like Vick, and YOU would torture your dog to have one tiny amount of time with your child? How sick is that? What does that make you? I am very sorry for your loss and I can't imagine ever losing a child, but I HAVE lost people close to me, my father at an early age (11), and losing a pet is every bit as traumatic IF you are any kind of DECENT human being, which clearly, you are not.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, thankfully for my dog, it is impossible to bring a child back from the dead by killing her, a point which you completely failed to grasp in what I am forced to assume was a skimming of my post.

      When we discuss love, we need to think about the objects of our love. Certainly animals can have deep and abiding loyalty for their owners, and one can be truly blessed to have such companionship. However, an animal can never be as good a recipient of love as a person, because they cannot return that love on a human level, but only on an animal level. Sure there are some very vile people.

      And yet, each human has the capacity to love and be loved, and the capacity is not diminished by their lack of actualization, and their capacity makes even the vilest person a better recipient of love than an animal, because that love might change the heart, and that vile person might be transformed into a loving person, able to reciprocate the love they have received.

      Humans, no matter how big or small, how kind or cruel, are of infinite worth, and infinite more worth than any animal. We certainly have responsibility to care for animals, but yes, when faced with finite and infinite goods, you sacrifice the finite for the infinite. Basic math. Or logic. Or philosophy. Kind of this intersection of all three.

      Delete
  5. I'm sorry for your loss. I have children, grandchildren and have had fur babies. Yes, that is who they are to those of us who value them as our own. We adopt them, we love and nurture them and when we lose them our grief is just as deep as yours is for your son. I could not have loved my little fur baby more if I had given birth to her myself, as any adoptive mother feels. Species or DNA is not what measures live or grief. While you are put off by people who love their dogs this much, I too am out off by people, like you, who don't. My "baby" died in July and I'm still grieving. I would never presume to diminish your grief by comparing it to say, a mother who lost an adult child, one she's had longer than you had yours. How cruel that would be. You would need to understand that what you said is cruel to people like me. We had iur baby girl for 13 yrs before we lost her. They ARE like humans in the way they think and feel. They have the mentality of a human toddler. So for you to say you would go Michael Vick on your dog, for any reason, just shows what's in your heart and it's not pretty. Don't let your loss make you bitter. Let it make you better.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. See, that's a false equivocation. "You value the loss of your infant over the loss of a pet, so you must value the loss of your infant more than the loss of a grown child." That's what you said, and frankly it makes no sense. It's a non sequitur - it does not follow.

      Also, seeing as how it's impossible to bring back a child from the dead by killing or torturing a dog, pretty sure Katie's safe. Literally, what was written here was an IF AND ONLY IF (IFF) condition, implying not a general disregard for canine life, but a specific willingness to sacrifice one treasure for a greater treasure.

      Have you had toddlers? Because I have. I've also had many dogs, and been around many other dogs. And they're nothing alike. For one thing, toddlers are people, and dogs aren't. Also toddlers are developing into adults, and dogs aren't. Dogs are dogs. Dogs are cool. Dogs are cool dogs. Best pet, cats suck. Except for cats who are like dogs, but I digress.

      You are absolutely right that love does not know the boundaries of DNA, both of my brothers are adopted, and both my wife and her brother are adopted. We will likely adopt children at some point. But it's more false equivocation to leap from genetics in the same species to genetics in another species. Again with the non sequitur - it does not follow.

      Delete
  6. P.S. When our littlest girl was a baby, she too could cry for me specifically, look around the room for her human brother and sisters and barked with utter glee whenever her daddy came home from work, greeting him with love and joyfulness. And when she was 6 she welcomed our 1st grandchild with love, nurturing and protectiveness, as she did the subsequent 2 others. She adored the little ones, and they her. She was our baby, our children's little sister and we were her pack and we ALL have wonderful memories with her and miss her greatly. That's just the way it is when people give love unconditionally. Which includes love being deeply felt and given equally to our adopted canine children as we do our biological or adopted children.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't doubt that you miss her, I really miss my first dog, Princess. She and her sister Missy helped me learn how to walk when I was a kid, they'd let me pull myself up by grabbing their fur, and walk along with them, and when they were done they'd dump me on my ass and walk away. Good times!

      Yes, dogs are pack animals, and can fit very well into the human "pack." We've been breeding them to fit that role for longer than we've recorded history. Our earliest ancestors probably had near relatives to the wolves as their hunting companions. Dogs are cool, easily the coolest pet.

      But those traits are animal traits. They bear some striking similarities to human traits, which only makes sense given that as Aristotle said we are possessed of all three modalities of life - plant, animal, and rational. We share the instinctive life that suffuses dogs (and cats - which suck - and birds - which are bitey - and fish - et cetera), but the dog cannot move beyond. The dog has no thought that is not instinct or conditioning. They do not compose music, they do not dream of a better world. They are not people, and they are not our equals, and I'm sorry if reality offends you but there it is. I cannot love a dog as much as I love a person, for a person is a more perfect object of my love than a dog is. Sentiment does not change reality.

      Delete
  7. What you've just wrote about literally makes me sick and is an embarrassment to people who have lost children, people and pets.
    You are sick in the head for saying you'd do that to your dog. I understand that you might do that to see your son again but what the hell. Taking your time to write about it is awful. People can call their pets fur babies or whatever they want and love them like they'd love a child. That has NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU! Weird.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now hold on just a dosh-garned minute. "Children, people and pets"? Are you serious with this? Are children not people? Oh, but wait, that's probably not what you meant, you probably meant to indicate that losing an adult and losing a child are two different types of trauma, for oftentimes the loss of (e.g.) a parent is expected, where the loss of a child is often not so, and while both cause us grief, the griefs are still different.

      That is called interpreting charitably, and is the principle by which serious philosophers maintain civility, and seek after actual truth. I'm not sure what you did, but I'm pretty sure it involved skimming the article because someone told you how evil I was, taking the money line out of context to support your pre-formed opinion of how evil my wife was, and in general wasting everyone's time.

      See almost all of my other replies for primers on modalities of life and love.

      Delete
  8. I am so sorry for your loss but I am so intensely upset at how ignorant your opinions are.. How can a child of God have such thoughts and even use God as an excuse / reason for such comparison.

    Life is life. Whether it is the life of a child or a life of a dog, it requires the utmost respect. Your dog would give its life for you, but for you to give it a second class rating just because "Pets ARE NOT PEOPLE", wow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, yes Andrew. If I had to choose between saving my child and saving my pet, I would save my child and let my pet die every time. If I could save them both I would, but I would save my child first. If - in the impossible world my wife concocted to make her point - killing our beloved dog would bring our child back from the dead, we would indeed trade our beloved dog for our more beloved son.

      What is presented in this post is not a general disdain of animals or dogs in general, nor of our Katie in particular. In fact, we highly esteem animals. I know we will lose Katie - she is after all a dog, and we will outlive her - but that will be a sad day for us. Take that, then, as a measure of the love for our son, that in the IMPOSSIBLE scenario described, we would sacrifice her for the sake of our son.

      But of course, this is only rational, for what father would save the family pet from the flames before rescuing their child? No father worth the name, I think.

      I wonder, Andrew, does your "life is life" philosophy extend to the child in the womb? Does it extend to the prisoner on death row? Does it extend to the senior citizen whose children have abandoned them to the nursing home, who are prime candidates for euthanasia for their lack of productive contributions to society? If it does, I at least commend you for your consistency.

      Delete
  9. I'm sorry for your loss... but you are so wrong.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your condolences... but I am so not.

      Delete
  10. You are one sick human animal. And just so you know I have lost a child. I love my animals as much as I love my natural born children. You should not be aloud to have and animal or child, Maybe God knew this. Your sick of people like us. Well guess what I'm sick of people like you. You use the animal for your cowardness. Life whether it be a human animal or an 4 legged one has feeling. They experience pain and feeling and love as a human. Obviously you do not understand this concept. You are one sick Bitch and one who needs help fast.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She does indeed have a 'dangerous mind.'

      Delete
    2. I am sorry for your loss. This is a shitty, shitty club. I am sorry for your grief, and that you feel the need to lash out at me and imply that God took our son because we "should not be aloud [sic] to have and [sic] animal or child." These are the words of someone in pain, and I wish there was something, anything I could do to ease that pain. You have my prayers, and my sympathies.

      Delete
  11. if my comment offends you delete it. the truth will stand when the world is on fire. If it's sympathy she is seeking , she wont get it from the animals lovers of this sight.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are absolutely right, truth will stand. If I may, ask, what site are you referring to? I'm not aware of this being posted in any particular location so as to gain this attention.

      Delete
  12. I wish I could alleviate your pain, but we both know that that is impossible.
    I remember when my daughter was 6 weeks old and it occurred to me that so many mothers have to go back to work when their babies are that tiny. It broke my heart and I was so grateful that I could raise her myself.

    As with all parents, I am sure, the occasional thought of losing her would take my breath away. I still have no idea how people deal with losing a child-it seems impossible to me. I have two friends who lost adult children and I do not know how they carry on.

    I have been in love with dogs since I could sense the world around me. My interest in them has been lifelong and never flagging. I have had some very special dogs, too. I remember them all.

    It hurt me greatly to lose them, even those that died of old age. The few that died young nearly broke me with the unexpectedness of it.

    But, when I had my daughter, I realized there was a difference. As you said, we expect to outlive our pets. I have had huge emotional investments in my dogs and I have felt pain I did not imagine I could get through at their loss.

    I am here to tell all of the commenters that the thing I have loved most about dogs is that they are dogs, NOT humans. Dogs fascinate me, humans not so much. I have worked in nearly every aspect of dogs and their husbandry, from breeding and showing to grooming to vet care to boarding kennel and even a stint as an animal control officer. I do have a good idea both first hand and second hand the kind of legitimate GRIEF that people feel when they lose a dog. It is real, it can be devastating, it can ruin some of us.

    I still feel that if I lost my daughter (who is now grown) it would be the end of me. For sure. I have had so much tragedy in my life regarding dogs-and horses- that I thought I knew what real pain was. I do not think there is anything worse than losing a child. There cannot be.

    That being said, grief is grief and it is all real to those feeling it. I believe that I can understand that, in your pain, you wanted to lash out. However, trying to diminish the grief of others does not make yours go away or even feel better. I know that you know that. I believe that the commenters are lashing back due to feeling their pain is being belittled and delegitimized.

    Please, we are all in pain. Let's love one another instead of fighting over whose pain is worse.

    Commenters: I am an atheist. I value all creatures and do not think that humans are anything more than another animal-the first to destroy our own planet that sustains us. I abhor those that worship money above all else. I abhor the hatred and divisiveness that religion perpetuates.

    I do not believe that this woman's deep grief over the loss of her baby really has anything to do with her belief system. All mothers grieve their children above all else. I don't just mean human mothers, either. I think it would be the loving thing to do to give this woman some slack. She has suffered a loss that all parents have nightmares about. I also recognize the pain and grief that many of you are feeling over the loss of much beloved pets. It is real. I don't think it is any less FOR YOU.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your kind words. You are an isolated island of calm in an ocean of, well, not calm.

      There is certainly grief in the loss of an animal. Both of us have experienced losing pets, as was mentioned in the post for any who cared to read and not just skim. The affection we have for animals is real, and so likewise the grief we feel at their passing is real.

      That we feel grief at the passing of a child and at the passing of a pet does not, however, make the two equal. In an age where we are increasingly unable to connect with our fellow human persons in charity and mutual understanding, the humanization of animals - or the animlization of humans - is a worrying trend. If people are just fancy animals, what prevents us from treating them as animals treat each other, with tooth and claw and muscle and sinew? I reject this utterly, as did Aristotle, for one.

      We are responsible for each other, a fact which each and every commenter knows intuitively, else they would not have commented. If we are not talking about real and important things, and if there is no importance in the opinions held, then we ought to let it all go. But we recognize that there is something fundamental here, a right and a wrong, and consequences either way. It is not out of bitterness or lashing out that my wife composed this, but out of concern for others. Certainly, this composition touched a raw nerve, but perhaps that is a good thing - we cannot grow and we cannot become better without a little pain, and without discussion on the hard topics.

      Of course, you seem to be the only person who actually read the whole post, so maybe I'm giving the rest of 'em too much credit. Kudos to you.

      Delete
  13. If it offends you that people relate to their pets and use the word 'furbaby'- that's your issue to deal with. One harsh truth you should have understood at this point is that the world does not cater to you. The emotional attachment others feel toward their pets is not for you to judge. If it hurts your last feeling that they regard them as their children, you simply have not experienced the deep commitment some have for their pets. And why would you? You capriciously entertain the idea of torturing your dog. Nobody with that disposition could possibly get a grasp of the loyalty and love that can exist for a dog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, Butterfly, you really must have nothing better to do. A post completely devoid of any indication that you understood the points presented, and several one or two word assents to other similarly lackluster posts.

      Delete
  14. In this comment section:

    1) A bunch of people REALLY late to the party. Commenting on a 6 month old post? Really? Did you have absolutely nothing better to do? Like, how boring is your life? Seriously, take up knitting or something. Or maybe take a class in logical and critical thinking. You clearly have the time on your hands.

    2) Ignorance of what is apparent to the majority of all people ever, namely that as Aristotle noted there are 3 modalities of life: Plant - which pertains to respiration and cell division; Animal - which pertains to instincts and motion; Rational (Human) - which pertains to cognition, intellect, and will. In other words, humans, animals, and plants are all different. Radical, I know.

    3) An inability to maintain basic human dignity in discourse. Seriously, saying that maybe our son died because God knew we shouldn't have animals or children. Foul, in all senses of the world.

    4) Some really upset people who just needed to take a breath. Go outside maybe, it's kind of a cool place. I take my dog there all the time. You should try it.

    5) Some random person who despite disagreeing with me managed to maintain civility. Go figure, not everyone's nuts here.

    Just to be clear, you are all freaking out because my wife would be willing to kill our dog IF AND ONLY IF (IFF for the logicians in the crowd) doing so would bring our son back from the dead. Which she said in context of how much she loves our dog, and how important Katie is to our family. In case y'all missed it, being cooped up on your computers, that's literally impossible. Like, not just a little impossible, majorly-not-how-any-of-this-works-impossible. Can killing Katie bring back our son? No. So the dog is safe. But is our son worth infinitely more than our dog? Since everyone here seems to be confused on that point, the answer is yes. Yes he is.

    Also, to double down as agent provocateur, I would do the same to her if it would save any one of your lives, because even in your hatred and your ignorance, you are worth more than she is, even though I like her way more than I like any of y'all.

    Well, except that atheist who defended me. I like you. You seem like a decent person.

    Also, to all you who decided to waste your time commenting here, you are literally why my wife wrote this post, so I guess thank you for vindicating us in the necessity to bring up this topic?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To be honest I do not care what you or your wife thinks. My life, my fur~baby and nothing will change that.

      Delete
    2. If you didn't care you would have stopped reading at least, and certainly wouldn't have read this comment, nor replied to it. You do care, an perhaps part of you agrees with me. In any case, have a nice day.

      Delete
  15. I love our dogs... and they are the best dogs they can possibly be. But I agree, they are not people. In some ways they are better than a lot of people, but they remain dogs. I love my friends who work so hard to save stray dogs and promote their adoption. But the refugee problem here in Greece is so severe, so many babies are dying... I have the sad conclusion that it's much easier to save an animal than a human. My loving friends save animals because it is possible. But for all the babies that need us -- it's nearly impossible to do anything.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would agree that it's easier to save animals than people. People make demands upon us that no animal can. They require so much more. There is so much more we can do. Thank you for your comments!

      Delete

Keep it civil, keep it thoughtful. Vulgarity will be deleted immediately. Thanks for reading!