Pet Parents - Doggy Daddy and Meow Mommy

The term “pet par­ents” has really taken off over the past few months. I’ve seen it appear­ing in more and more places, but one of the biggest abusers of this term is the pet food com­pany known as Blue Buf­falo. Their sappy com­mer­cials con­sis­tently refer to “pet par­ents” and “he’s our biggest boy”, the lat­ter stated by Mom as her bio­log­i­cal son in the back­ground looks down sadly.

So what started all this? I mean, you really are NOT their par­ent — you do real­ize that, don’t you? Did you ever stop to con­sider that if you’re claim­ing to be your doggy’s mommy, that makes you a bitch? Okay, so if you have a cat that makes you a queen — under­stand­able, I suppose.

Most of the peo­ple using the “pet par­ent” title for them­selves are child­less, or their own bio­log­i­cal chil­dren have flown the coop. I saw one com­ment on a dis­cus­sion board, in answer to some­one stat­ing that a pet owner is not a pet par­ent — the respon­der stated that they also have an adopted human child — does that make them any less that child’s parent?


It’s won­der­ful that peo­ple care so well for their pets and think so highly of them that they will spend an esti­mated $60 bil­lion this year on food, toys, hous­ing, cloth­ing, med­ical care and adop­tion / pur­chas­ing fees. That amount of money would buy a lot of human babies.

Oh, what — that’s a ter­ri­ble thing to say? Not any more so than call­ing your­self a par­ent to a four-legged furkid. Yep, that’s one of the many ways these pet par­ents refer to their “kids” — “fur kids” or, as I’ve often seen it spelled, “furkids”. All one small, com­pact, happy word. But to me it implies that your child has hyper­tri­chosis.

furkid1.jpg … and this is Gra­cie, our third furkid …

Think it over: if you refer to your­self as your pet’s par­ent then you are claim­ing that you either bought or adopted your child, since I doubt you are bio­log­i­cally capa­ble of giv­ing birth to them. If you adopted them, how do you know that they weren’t torn away from their mother at too early an age, or were part of some puppy mill that made “The Jun­gle” look like Club Med?

Or, if you pur­chased them, isn’t that the equiv­a­lent of buy­ing your child on the subway?

It would be all too easy to tell these peo­ple to get a life, but I’m fas­ci­nated by the psy­chol­ogy of the whole phe­nom­ena. On the sur­face it appears to be a cutesy-wutesy fan­tasy — “Oh, yes, come to Mommy, sweet­heart!” or “Mommy is SO proud of you for tak­ing a dump in the yard!”. Those are the kinds of expres­sions you would nor­mally expect to find being applied to human chil­dren (well, the yard thing not so much, but there ARE some weird par­ents out there).

It’s enough that we even talk to ani­mals — no, strike that. It’s enough that we even talk to ani­mals AND we expect them to answer in any but an instinc­tive way. In my work as a mar­tial arts instruc­tor I am con­stantly encour­ag­ing my stu­dents to return to such an instinc­tual level, to bet­ter respond in a self-defense sit­u­a­tion. Basi­cally what that involves is shed­ding our social con­di­tion­ing and return­ing to our ani­mal roots, where we respond directly AND WITHOUT THOUGHT to a cer­tain set of stimuli.

And that is how our ani­mals — not our furkids, but our ani­mals — respond to us. Instinc­tively. You call friends and fam­ily and take numer­ous snap­shots when your cat rubs against your leg, as if that is proof that he/she loves you.

No. All they’re doing is leav­ing their scent, their marker, on you. Basi­cally they’re putting a “SOLD” sign on your leg.

What about when Fido gets so excited to see you that he starts hump­ing your leg? A gen­uine dis­play of affec­tion, or a horny crit­ter doing what comes nat­u­rally? My roommate’s Pekingese, with the charm­ing name of Tig­ger, humps legs, pil­lows, the cat, the remote con­trol, 2×4’s, what­ever is avail­able — is he THAT full of love or is he just try­ing to rip off a quickie?

“Doin’ what comes naturally …”

Start­ing back around 2009–2010 was a strange trend even­tu­ally known and cat­e­go­rized as “dog­noir” and “cat­noir” — nov­els that high­lighted the phys­i­cal and spir­i­tual bonds between peo­ple and their furry chil­dren. I sit alone at night, won­der­ing whether the open­ing of such nov­els go:

   It was a dark and stormy night, and I was all alone in my pala­tial doghouse …

Or …

   Jin­gles felt the feel­ing com­ing on again. It had been two moons since his last 
   amorous adven­ture and he was hot to trot …

Sup­port­ers of the pet par­ent move­ment (cult?) point out that their hairy lit­tle charges are intel­li­gent. I’m sorry, but run­ning at high speed into walls, eat­ing your own vomit and doing the dirty with a rub­ber squeaky toy does not exactly qual­ify as “intel­li­gent” in my book.

“They’re lov­ing — they give love unabashedly” is another phrase I often hear. Again, is it REALLY love or just a tem­po­rary con­ve­nience? When Sylvester curls up in your lap is it a sign of life-long affec­tion, or sim­ply Syl’s way of stay­ing warm when you’re too cheap to turn up the ther­mo­stat? Or what about when Rex barks at scary strangers — he’s pro­tect­ing you, right?

Unfor­tu­nately I’ve known many dogs that will bark if the sun rises or the wind blows, so let’s leave that one out, shall we?

  • Do your furry prog­eny break your heart while they’re still alive? No.
  • Do they stay out late and come home at 3AM singing dirty dit­ties and wear­ing a pair of panties on their head? No.
  • Do they call you when they’ve just arrived at their new col­lege dorm? No.

Hope­fully we still treat our bio­log­i­cal chil­dren bet­ter than our adopted/purchased/stolen ani­mal friends. I know from first-hand expe­ri­ence that my sons did NOT respond well to being placed in crates, forced to eat table scraps or wear­ing shock collars.

The take-away here is that ani­mals are won­der­ful com­pan­ions. They are play­ful, curi­ous and serve as touch­stones when we are feel­ing blue. But they are NOT our chil­dren, and claim­ing that they are is an insult to bio­log­i­cal par­ents the world over.

Categories: Humour

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