Weenie Wednesday: Companion or Pet?

I have not thought of my animals as pets for years. Fur kids, companion animals, mute wards … but “pet” doesn’t really come close to describing either of my two current fur kids.

drivingmocs

Conrad has way too much personality for me to refrain from anthropomorphizing him. He is most definitely not just a pet. I have even contemplated getting the paperwork to officially making him a working dog and name him as my “emotional support” dog.  There are all kinds of things people do related to their pets that I would NEVER do to Conrad, such as flying an animal in the cargo hold of a commercial airliner, or leaving him unattended in the backyard. The thought of him feeling abandoned, feeling fear, or even just worry leaves a vacuous cavern of despair in my chest. Of course I am sure he worries all the time about regular dog things, like a car door slamming or how many cookies is he going to get today. But voluntarily placing my animal in a situation I would never subject myself or a child to? Probably not ever.

sniffy

With a horse, obviously the dynamic changes. Any of us who ride probably don’t consider our horses as just pets. But I also don’t consider Eli just a companion animal, either. He’s my partner in sporting pursuits … like doubles tennis … but not. He doesn’t get to snuggle up on the couch next to me because horses’ needs are different than dogs’ needs when it comes to human interaction. Remember that horses, like dogs, are domesticated animals and have been for millennia. Horses rely on humans–that is the nature of domestication. You can’t set Hidalgo free into the desert and expect him to make it a week (that ending was so freaking stupid and I saw it coming the first fifteen minutes into the movie). But at the same time, horses can’t curl up at the foot of your bed (except maybe minis?). This makes me no less responsible for making sure Eli’s needs are met. As my partner in sport, I also must make sure he is fit mentally and physically for the level of competition I expect out of the both of us.

zoomy

So for me, the relationship I have with my animals is not one of owner/pet, although for the most part that would be how the law treats it, and as an owner the law requires I take on certain responsibilities regarding my animals’ welfare. But even in the eyes of the law, animal welfare, and whether animals are property, and whether animals are sentient, emotional beings (we all say, duh, of course they are but the law doesn’t work that way) are being called into question and pushed into unknown territory, liberating some animals from horrifying circumstances. Under the law, animals’ rights are expanding.

squishy

Compassion is powerful. Empathy is powerful. I feel these for my animals. They are not my property, not my pets. Honestly, without my animals, my emotional depth simply wouldn’t exist like it does today. Animals are truly innocent beings, and to consider them anything less than loving companions and partners would fall short of my emotional commitment to them.

If you are interested in exploring the legal landscape of animal rights, I suggest starting with this LLRX post.

Most recently, the Oregon Supreme Court found that dogs are not merely property.

20 thoughts on “Weenie Wednesday: Companion or Pet?

  1. I love my boyfriend very much, but most of the times I’ve been irrationally angry with him stemmed from something that happened with the dog, like forgetting one of her meds, or forgetting to check her water bowl. I’m a super helicopter parent when it comes to Lily, and it broke my heart when she was sick for so long. I agree with all of this wholeheartedly, and I’ve definitely been tempted to get Lily registered as an Emotional Support Animal. If I could find a way to make Val work, I’d do it for him too!

    Also, the end of Hidalgo: I actually laughed out loud at the end when his shoes flashed in the sun. Poor dude is going to rip a shoe off in a matter of weeks, and his farrier won’t be around to fix his little feeties. So dumb.

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  2. Wynston is 100% a family member and not a pet. I am not his owner, he is much more like a child to me. Sydney on the other hand, is not on the same level as him, though I think she has as much personality and I love her just as much. She is just too big, and can hurt me too easily, for me to every treat her in the same “OMG I love you so much” way that I treat Wynston.

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  3. This post is amazing, Karen! I really loved reading it, and I agree with so many of your points! I can’t even imagine putting my dog in the cargo hold of an airplane–the fact that some people will do those things to animals (but not to kids of course!!) I’ll never understand.

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  4. Pingback: Looking Back on 2016 | Patently Bay

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