Re (from ColorsWolf
"There are many difficulties when it comes to living independently as any human who has just moved out of their parents' house can tell you and there are many difficulties when it comes to living dependently on someone else as any human who has yet to move out of their parents' house can tell you."
[bracing self] ... While this is likely somewhat off-topic, can I just say that I understand you're scheduled to start basic training in February? If that's true, and if you live with your folks right now, I'd like to suggest you seeeriously brace yourself for the jarring reality that lies ahead. You speak of the difficulties of "independence" (house-dwelling human independence being very different from wild non-human independence); well no offense but I fear that you probably have no idea. I think you're in for a dose of homesickness you'd never have dreamed you'd be capable of. Please don't "over-value" how wonderful independence (of any kind) is just becasue dependence sucks in its own ways.
The above paragraph contains *zero*
ridicule. I am seriously, sincerely concerned for your well-being here. I strongly believe that you'll see what I mean, come February.
"I just think that when it comes to non-humans, whenever and as much as we can we need to recognize, understand, and respect their decisions whether they decide they want to go outside without you or to stay inside lazing by the fire."
First of all, can we all recognize that at least one Polyamory.com member on this thread does indeed let her pets outdoors (virtually? always?) whenever they want, and said pets willingly and happily return home every time? So if you feel you must complain about people who "trap their pets" indoors, at least confine the complaint to those of us who really do so.
And having said that, how likely is it, honestly, that the "truly-trapped-indoors" pets, if they were given that freedom to go outdoors (by themselves) any time they wanted, that those pets wouldn't want to come back home after their outdoor romp? I tell you, if they didn't come back, the *only*
reason would be because they had become lost and *couldn't*
find their way back home again. Which is exactly why so many of us (especially the city-dwellers amongst us) refrain from exposing our pets to that option. We just don't think that there'd be that much point in doing so. It wouldn't enhance the pets' lives *that*
much and in fact, would probably prove to be their sad, slow, confused, hungry, cold, lonely (and quite possibly smashed by a car as you yourself mentioned) demise. Wow, yeah! Let's sign our pets up for that.
It's at least different for a pet who's already accustomed to regularly going out on its own, who knows the scent of its home well and is mighty good at wending its way back. I've had pets like that myself. But if a pet is already so immersed in their indoor environment that they could never pull off that trick, at the least their "human masters" would need to accompany them on their first, oh, say -- 100? admittedly don't know -- outdoor adventures to be sure that they had indeed learned the scent and location of their home.
Sounds like a great and cool thing for a human to do for his/her non-human friend, but for most of us humans it'd be too much time and trouble (especially with cats who have much built-in penchant for disappearing into the bushes and quickly becoming unfindable). Too much time and trouble (for our selfishly double-booked schedules), and too damn risky (for the cat at least), quite frankly. Could probably "train through supervision" the cat quicker if he/she started the training as a kitten, but an adult? "That cat's too old to learn that new trick."
Since we seem to agree that cats and dogs are genetically-malformed creatures in that they have the lifelong "mind of a child," I suggest comparing letting them out unsupervised to letting a four-year-old human child outdoors unsupervised. What, deprive that child of the chance to be fierce, wild, and free? Ummm yes as a matter of fact, that's exactly what a responsible human parent will do -- obviously.
FWIW, why not also chew on this food for thought: Back in the day when I lived in Michigan, I "owned" one of the coolest/sweetest cats of all time; Shipley by name. Shipley loooved (or was very used to, accustomed to, and comfortable with the routine of) going outside, even in the bitter Michigan Winter snows. Well. My wife and I indulged his adventurous spirit, and pretty much let him come and go freely as he pleased. Let me just say though, that he loved food as much as any of us, and loved coming home to bask in its warmth, food, love, etc.
Well: one day, he did not come home. For three days in fact, he was utterly missing. What had happened to him? Had he at last decided he wanted to be truly free of all dependence and live out in the wild?
When he finally reappeared, he was in our garage, resting by the food dish we'd left there in hopes of coaxing him into coming back. It was Winter -- of course, as luck would have it. And Shipley didn't look like he was doing well at all. He could barely stand up let alone walk. He looked emaciated.
As I'm sure you know, cats prefer to hide away when they're sick. Their instinct is to protect themselves in their weakened condition by sealing themselves away from all other creatures who might take advantage of them. But that instinct, in Shipley, after three days, had at last been utterly defeated. When we saw him in that garage we were overwhelmed with relief, and ohhh did he ever share in that relief. We could hear him purring long before we got close to him, right from the moment when he first spied us.
So here's what had happened. At some point while he was out there on his lengthy journeyings, he'd come down with FeLV. Possibly the result of us leaving that food out for him in the garage. A possum had been getting into that food; the possum might have been carrying the infection and passed it on to Shipley.
Whatever brought the infection on, it had literally ruined Shipley's life. After being diagnosed at the vet's, he returned home with us and chose a pillow on the basement bathroom floor as his new home. We walked down there daily to love, pet, feed, and water him. He was so weak he had to eat/drink without getting up. And so he remained, for weeks, and weeks, while we hoped and prayed he'd regain enough strength to live a normal life (sort of like modern AIDS victims can usually do).
No such luck for Shipley. And then finally came that wretched day when, upon arriving at Shipley's side in the morning, I observed that one of his eyes was filled with blood. He purred as sweetly as ever to see me (I, who had at times, back when he was healthy, *not*
treated him kindly). But it was clear that he was now much sicker than ever. We had hoped he'd be better by Christmas, but this cosmic sign convinced us at last that the only humane thing to do for this once so-very-free-to-roam-and-see-the-world cat, was to have him put to sleep.
At the local shelter, where euthanasia was done for free (our finances weren't doing well at the time), I held Shipley while waiting for them to come and get him. He purred and purred and purred. He loved me sooo much. He totally trusted me to keep him safe, warm, and alive. And they came to get him, and he still purred while in their arms, and then they all disappeared into another room, and I never saw my Shipley again. His suffering was finally over, but great God in Heaven, did I ever suffer that day, and at this instant I still ache from the pain left in my heart where Shipley's life used to be.
So you tell me how "great" it is to let your pets outdoors.
Yah, sure, teach them to avoid cars. I had an exclusively-outdoor dog as a kid -- Buffy -- who lived to please and obediently accepted our training that she was never, ever to chase or come anywhere near a car ... that if she crossed the street she must look both ways. She completely adopted those wise habits.
Well wouldn't ya know it: One day, some dog-hating bastard purposefully skidded far enough off the side of the road to hit Buffy.
Buffy then proceeded to live for three days (since my folks were too cheap and old-fashioned to get her to the vet and have her put down) with crushed innards (go ahead, tell me what a pleasant way *that*
is to die) -- with puppies that she could no longer nurse.
And what had she done to deserve this? exactly as much as Jesus had done to deserve to be crucified. Nothing. She was the sweetest, most obedient dog I've *ever*
known. If she ever "fucked up," we'd call her over. She'd know we were gonna smack her on the head (and say "No!" -- no affirming word even for a dog) but she'd come without hesitation anyway, her head bowed in true remorse for disappointing the humans that she loved.
Well, once again, there's life in the great outdoors for your pet. Oh yeah. That's a wonderful thing to do for them. As humans, knowing what we do about the horrors that lurk out there, I rather think it's easily as cruel to "free our pets" as it is to "incarcerate them."
Cars the #1 killer of pets? You may be right. Except of course, those pets who reside night and day indoors where no car will ever hit them. Ohhh the cruelty of confining your pets indoors. Am I dripping with enough sarcasm yet, or have I made my point and can shut up?