In a society that values change and strives to evolve, it is seemingly simple to go along with any new societal convention of the world, often mindlessly.
While I appreciate so many of the advances our society has made as a whole, there is a certain aspect of “normal” life that frightens me: people who treat their dogs like humans and believe their pets are their babies.
I grew up with dogs as pets, and I enjoyed it; however, they were just that—pets.
Our family dogs stayed outside unless it was extremely cold, they ate pet food and not people food, they didn’t ride in our car unless we were taking them to the vet and they certainly didn’t get clothing, Starbucks drinks or their own presents at Christmastime.
The amount of times I have been heckled, laughed at or given dirty looks for telling someone I don’t want to pet their dog, play with it or let it crawl in my lap and lick my face is a bit appalling.
I am not someone who likes to be touched by a human, let alone a dog, but the root of my frustration goes deeper than things like the smell, the shedding, the germs and the potty training that come with an animal (though I am not a huge of fan of those characteristics, either).
The problem I have comes when people choose to value the life of an animal over their own or the life of another human.
I do not think it is wrong to love your dog or care for it; dogs are living creatures that deserve respect and require a large commitment and high level of responsibility to nurture.
However, I cannot bring myself to understand why people who are incapable of caring for themselves think it is a good idea to add a pet into the mix.
The familiar scene of a homeless person standing on the corner, begging for money, food and help with a dog or two at their side breaks my heart; I understand they are more than likely looking for companionship, but it does not make sense to take on the duties and high price tag of having a dog when not having the resources to provide necessities like food and shelter for themselves.
Situations like this are also unfair to the animal, who is more than likely not receiving all of the proper care it requires.
Additionally, it does not make sense for low-income families who have trouble providing meals, clothing and care to their children to own multiple dogs.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates that the first year of owning a dog can cost over $1,000 and $500 for each additional year, and that is assuming no major medical issues arise. If a dog lives for 12 human years, one could expect to spend more than $6,000—that is quite a lot of money that otherwise could have been spent on caring for a child.
Of course, these conditions do not apply to everyone; there are many households capable of owning and caring for a dog.
That does not mean people have to bring the dog into their homes, let it sleep in their beds, eat their food and wear their clothes.
Actually, the fact that humans do those things is anthropologically a little odd.
If someone was to bring a cow or chimp into the home, care for it as a human and try to have a cognitive relationship with it, that person would be deemed crazy; dogs only seem different because of the culture surrounding them and their domestication.
Dogs do not have the same capabilities as people in a mental or physical sense; they are not human.
They should be cared for and valued, just like all animals, but they should not replace our human relationships and interactions.
In the age of technology and social media, we are already lacking in face-to-face communication skills, and replacing humans with dogs only hinders the issue further.
I believe it also impedes upon the human ability to empathize with one another: If people care about their dogs more than other people, an important part of our pathological human connection is lost.
It may be an unpopular opinion, but dogs are not our saviors, they are not people and they cannot replace humans, no matter how badly society wants them to.
Alyssa Cravens is a junior communication major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]