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Old 11-10-2013, 04:17 PM
opalescent opalescent is offline
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Originally Posted by ColorsWolf View Post
As much as I love creatures like dogs and cats, I can not bring myself to "keep them" as adults as every part of me is screaming not to.~ I will raise creatures to adults, but I will raise them to be more independent of me as they get older until they are completely able to take care of themselves as adults as I believe this is what being a parent who truly cares about their child's happiness will do.~
I'm a crazy pet lady. I totally embrace the label. I have called my dog and my cat my furry children. I think about their wants and needs a lot and try to give them the best possible life I can. I work on being a responsible pet owner.

But I do not actually treat my pets like human children. They are not. They are adult animals with their own distinct needs, emotions, wants, genetics, behavior and on and on. They are indeed people, not human, but people regardless. Anthropomorphizing pets as human children actually does animals a profound disservice. Anthropomorphizing pets puts a filter on our perceptions of pets where we most easily see the parts of pets that most easily match our own human-ness. It clouds our ability to see animals as animals, as people who are not humans, who are very different from us but with whom we have much in common anyway. It is actually anthropomorphizing to raise a pet to adulthood and treat it as a human child who has grown up and is now self-sufficient. As others have pointed out, this is not the reality of most domesticated cats and dogs. And treating them as if they were human children clouds one ability to see animals as they actually are.

It's human to anthropomorphize. We can't help it. And it can be useful in that it drives research to find the places where we and animals share behavior, emotions and so on. Empathy is partly based (I think) on seeing how the other is like us. Anthropomorphizing is important to empathizing with non humans. But I think it is important to realize that anthropomorphizing is a filter that allows us to see some things clearly and obscures others. It's good to be aware of it.

Humans have profoundly changed many animal species. We have animals that we raise to eat or consume their milk in some form. We have others we bred to be transportation or pull plows. It's tens of thousands of years too late to change this. (There is evidence that domesticating animals in various ways changed us too but that is a side note.)

What is new is the extent of domesticated animals serving as emotional support for humans. This is a new 'job' for dogs and cats. Dogs used to have jobs - they herded, helped us hunt, protected us and our other animals. Some kept us company. Cats ate rodents that ate the grain that fed us. Some dogs and cats still do these jobs. But most humans (in the West anyway, this is less true worldwide) do not have jobs or livings that require the jobs dogs used to do. But we do want someone around to love and pay attention to us. Jon Katz has written extensively about this change. I highly recommend any of his books. They are often available in libraries.

The reality is that pets are slaves. They have no choice. They generally cannot chose where they live, who they live with, how they live. And there is another level. They were bred to a point where choice was taken away from them - broadly, domesticated animals cannot survive at all or well away from us. (Feral cats perhaps being an exception.) In an extreme example, bulldogs would die out without humans. They cannot give birth except through C-section because breeders have bred for such a big head that vaginal birth is impossible. I think breeding this extreme is an abomination and utterly irresponsible. But it highlights the utter dependence and lack of choice and options of domesticated dogs and cats.

I am a slave owner. I try to be a responsible one. My slaves will never be able to be anything other than a slave. Yet, they are very individual and bring me much joy.

I think not wanting or having pets for ethical reasons is sound. Choosing not to be a pet owner is a choice humans can make. I've made the choice to be a responsible owner instead. And I do my best to see them as they are, not as human children or in other anthropomorphized ways.
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