I knew all the animals I ate by their names. Oh please, take your judgmental self somewhere else if that offends you- my story is definitely not written for your sensitive nose.
Where I come from, people are still living on farms, with no plumbing and off the land. Our animals are there with a purpose, respected for what they bring, and dearly loved. They roam around freely, have a job, have names and, when the time comes, they take their turn providing for the family. And when they die, nothing, NOTHING goes to waste- meat, bones, skin and feathers- everything is used. The simple act of transforming an animal into food is hard and ritualistic, and I remember my grandpa always saying a made-up prayer before every milking of Dumana, our cow, or every killing of a chicken.
No, the functional side of breeding and using an animal is not barbaric (but you know what is? Only eating chicken breasts, like that’s all chickens are made of. Or calling yourself a vegetarian while still eating fish, as if fish are not animals- for your information, they are. Look it up). There’s a bittersweet, primordial interdependence between humans and the animal they breed that is most organic, and as old as humanity itself. Butchering, although not sexy, is a part of life.
As far as pets go, well, let’s just say I’m aching for one in my no-pet-policy San Francisco apartment. Because I grew up in a house full of them, and my father owned a farm that became a sanctuary for all stray or abandoned or too-old-to-work animals in town. At this one particular time we had a bit under 30 dogs, 2 cats (Cleo and Mitzi), 3 sheep (One, Two and Three), pigeons, one limpy rooster (Puiu’), 3 noisy turkeys left over from Christmas (we just called them The Boys), one pretty cranky bull I got as a present (Costel) and one moody and very flatulent horse (Mishoo). Trust me, I know what it means to have someone who loves you unconditionally.
I also know how much you can love them- and, frankly, what happens behind your closed doors is your business- who am I to judge?- but when you’re in public, please, comply with the public and be sensitive to it. Remember, a person remembers. And they can walk away. Or sue.
To help you out, I put together a few neutral, objective rules to keep in mind when dealing with people without pets. Please note nobody says you shouldn’t feel certain things. What I’m saying is you should be sensitive to people who don’t feel the same way. You’re welcome.
1. Don’t say your pet is your child. Unless you secreted them in your innards and then pushed them through your private parts (in which case I’d REALLY like to meet you), you are very likely to offend mothers of humans, who usually don’t take lightly the comparison of your beloved bundle of fur with their beloved bundle of love. On the same vein, I it’s totally ok to love your pet as much as you love your children. But NOT MORE.
2. Spay and neuter. None of that “God made him this way”. None of the “Why, should he never feel the pleasures of life?”. None of the “I love her so much I want more of her”. Stop finding excuses. You took the animal in, you are responsible for its safety + its behavior toward others. Behavior is influenced by hormones. You can’t control hormones. Your pet is going to run after some bitch in heat and get flattened by your next door neighbor’s truck. You can’t love a flattened pet. Period.
3. If you only love pure bred pets, please don’t call yourself an animal lover. You’re making the rest of us look foolish.
4. When in public, act like you think of people first, and not your pet. If you’re a bad conversationalist, please don’t expect me to talk to Fido (what is Fido, your deflector?). Please don’t bring your muddy, just-met-every-puddle-in-the-park baby in my clean, mud- free, smell-free home and expect me to offer you two the couch. And when traveling, please keep the little one in a case- running around the airport, or a restaurant, or a Japanese garden is not ok. People have allergies, or fobias, or are simply too busy to love your dog as much as you do- be mindful of that, and don’t impose.
5. Positively, ABSOLUTELY NO PDA. If you don’t like to see high schoolers licking each other’s faces to death in a passionate, public transportation embrace that leaves their seats hot, crotch-y with hormones and wet with slobber, well… you tongue- kissing your pooch is kind of the same. The brain involuntarily makes a somersault and cannot stop imagining details of an earlier love, that between your pooch and its own private parts- and we know how much pooches loooooove their private parts!!! When you French- kiss your dog, THAT’S ALL WE SEE. It is endearing, but gross and somewhat indecent- so please, refrain.
(You can now follow me on Bloglovin, too.)